The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Difference between Slap & Fold vs Traditional Hand Kneading

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Difference between Slap & Fold vs Traditional Hand Kneading

I am making my first Vermont Sourdough today.  Watched a video yesterday where Hamelman used slap and folds for mixing and for the folds during bulk ferment.  I have never tried them (usually do a traditional hand knead), so I tried it today (I mean it is his recipe, right?)  :-)

I did about 15-20 slap & folds at 50 minutes, and the dough was soft and supple after the 3rd or 4th one.  Did not stick at all to the work surface.  Stayed that way throughout the remaining S&F's.  At that point, I decided to do a few hand kneads that I usually do, just so I could compare the feel of the dough to what I usually experience.  After the 2nd or 3rd knead, the dough became very stiff.  I did 4 or 5 more, and it stayed that way, so I just put it back in the bowl and moved on with the bulk fermentation.  For the second S&F, I only did S&F's, which kept the dough soft and supple for the 20 or so that I did.

Any ideas?  Is the dough getting stiff a sign of better gluten development, or is that a sign of the gluten breaking down with that technique?

albacore's picture
albacore

It is extremely difficult to break down gluten with hand kneading. Even with a domestic planetary mixer eg KA/Kenwood you will find it very difficult.

 

Lance

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Lance,

I'm glad I read your comment. Thanks for posting it.

Do you think it's possible to over-develop the gluten network such that the dough just locks up, stiffens up, and just won't rise before the dough starts to relax and threatens to over-ferment?

Murph

albacore's picture
albacore

I don't think so Murph. If you read Hamelman or Suas, they talk about short mix, improved mix and intensive mixes, depending on mixing time duration.

Intensive mix will give you a close crumb, but still good rise. If you continue (and I've never done this) I think your gluten would degrade and you would get a sloppy strandy dough that won't windowpane. I don't think there's any inbetween stiffen up phase.

Suas reckons 8 minutes on high speed in a spiral mixer for an intensive mix. I would guess 15 minutes before you degrade gluten, probably equivalent to 30 minutes in a Kitchen Aid.

 

Lance

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Hey, Lance!

I saw the same thing regarding mixing. It wasn't Hamelman or Suas... probably BAKERpedia on YouTube. I can't put my finger on the episode.

Is anyone else viewing this channel? I think they're very informative and especially valuable given the focus on commercial bakers. These producer/bakers have to make money with their efforts.

I love the videos but dislike having to get through the sponsorship plugs. It is what it is and even Dr. Lin of BAKERpedia has to make the effort worth her time. I can't blame her one bit.

Murph 

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Maybe this will help...  This is the dough after I did the hand kneading and put it back in the bowl..  After the slap and folds, the dough was supple and the surface was smooth.  After the hand kneading, it had a "rough" surface.

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Hi, HelHel29er,

Your first post had you worried about a stiff dough. That's no big deal as you have seen after letting it sit around. Your dough just chills out, stretches out, and waits for your next command.

What's your command?... Bake? More fermenting? Shape up?

Your big worry and focus should be on fermentation. Watch the fermentation. The gluten will take care of itself.

Lance said you can't wreck gluten. We know you can tear it by stretching it too far but it should knit back together with some gentle stretch and folds. I think you shredded your gluten with kneading.

Slap and folds are good for incorporating unruly ingredients or large batches. Likewise kneading or machine mixing. For your basic flour, water, salt, and yeast loaf in a home kitchen, I'd be all about stretching and folding.

Which reminds me... I'd like to try some coil folding. Have you done any of that yet?

Murph

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Still very early in my SD journey.  Have not tried coil folds yet.  :-)

Good to know that it can't be wrecked, and you're right, it did come back together after relaxing.  Will have to do some more reading on the two techniques and when to use which one.  I was just surprised at how quickly the dough changed.  Slap and Fold isn't necessarily a gentle process...   The learning continues!

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Hi, HelHel29er!

New? NEW?!!? Hah! I know just enough to burn my house down with a 500°F (260°C) oven. Join the club.

I can say this, though... see if you can get onto YouTube and watch some of the long videos at The Sourdough Journey.

I don't know Tom Cucuzza, that guy from the "Internationally Acclaimed Sourdough Bakng Institute of Cleveland, Ohio" (AKA his kitchen), he doesn't owe me anything, but he does make some great videos for beginners like me.

It finally clicked with me that everything is fermentation- bulk fermentation. He begins to conclude that the yeast makes the bread, not the baker. Bakers just get in the way.

Fermentation is a fancy word woven throughout this site but never hitting you between the eyes with a two-by-four. I need the lumber. You'll hear "proof" and "rise" and "altus" (har, har). It's all fermentation. Gotta get that right.

That guy, Tom from Cleveland, Ohio, shows you why bulk fermentation will pull it all together for you - using an impossibly high (for me) 85% hydration dough with the Tartine Country Bread recipe.

Watch a few of those videos. I don't think you will go far wrong if you start with When is Bulk Fermentation Done? - Episode 1: "The 30 Minute Effect."

It helped me immensely. It might help others, too.

Murph

 

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Thank you for the links and the heads up!  Will definitely watch them.

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Slap fold is my preferred kneading method. 


There are limitations on hydration when using slap fold.  I haven't explored the edge of hydration, but it's probably in the mid-70s percent with white or whole wheat all purpose flour.    I would say there is also a lower limit on slap fold, because the dough needs to be hydrated enough to extend during the slap acceleration.  Hydration in the mid-60s is not extensible enough in my experience, with white or whole wheat all purpose flour.   70%-72% hydration seems to be a sweet spot for slap fold with the recipes and flours I use, in my kitchen which is on the cool side all year. 

I like slap fold because I can do it one-handed with a 900g flour weight loaf.  It allows me to keep one hand clean.  I  have a clear feeling and view on when the dough is becoming more elastic.  I'm not a believer in stretch-fold with higher hydration dough.  It doesn't develop gluten to the same degree in my experience, again with the recipes and flours I use.   I bake poolish non-sourdough breads.

The mechanics/dynamics of the slap fold use the mass and inertia of the dough itself to do the stretching.  The stretch is accomplished as the dough is accelerated during the slap, before it hits the counter.  It amplifies the human effort. 

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Semolina_man,

I very much like your comment because you remind us of the importance of...

"...with the recipes and flours I use, in my kitchen which is on the cool side all year."

That's key. Using your recipes, your flours, and your kitchen.

This can't be overstated. Everybody... and I mean EVERYBODY... tweaks a sourdough recipe according to "your."

I've been around here long enough to notice the "but I did...," "except that I..." and the "but I substituted..."

This is what makes SD baking so much fun and endlessly interesting.

Your experience with slap and folds suits you perfectly. One-handed, no less! Very cool! And then you read dabrownman.

Here's a guy in nosebleed territory for add-ins and hydration. He slaps it around and stretchs it out with a careless ease. But that suits his recipes, his flours, and his kitchen.

Can't be overstated.

I'm glad you posted your experience because it is so very helpful to newer bakers who need to learn techniques and processes before tweaking a recipe that suits their environment.

All my very best,

Murph

 

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Interesting...  I see what you mean by the acceleration providing the stretch and I experienced it yesterday firsthand, but going into yesterday, I thought the exact opposite.  I was treating the dough more like silly puffy.  Stretch it slowly and it’ll stretch to a thin thread.  Jerk it apart and it snaps.  

Thank you for the response and the insight!

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Think of the dough like the old paddle game, where the rubber ball is connected to a flat wooden paddle via a rubber band, and you slap the ball back over and over.  The difference with dough is that the rubber band doesn't snap back, and the "ball" analogy is approximately 2/3 the weight of the dough mass. 

There is a stage before slap-fold and after mixing.  The dough needs to be well mixed and brought together, and kneaded on the bench until it holds together very well.  Then gradually the slap folding can begin, and the dough will become more extensible and slappable as the gluten develops.   After the kneading and before strong slap folding, is a phase where the dough can be slapped, but it is tight enough that the 2/3 dough mass needs to be pushed away using a knead motion. 

Lots of youtube videos on this, hard to describe in words. 

I just made a loaf this morning.  55% rye meal/45% white unbleached all purpose wheat, so not much slapping going on because of the lack of gluten development vs 100% wheat flour.   However, I did use the general slap-fold motion, it just required assistance with a kneading motion because rye is rye.