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bulk ferment and autolyse

dinner@me's picture

bulk ferment and autolyse

Hi Freinds, those with knowledge of baking.

What is the difference between Autolyse and bulk ferment?

gavinc's picture

Professor Calvel advocated the use of a defined rest period, or autolyse, between the incorporation of ingredients on first speed and the gluten development on second speed. The interval of rest was typically 20–30 minutes. When the dough is allowed to rest without agitation, the gluten-forming proteins in the flour begin bonding and organizing on their own in a completely passive manner. As a result, the dough does not need to be turned so much by the mixer’s hook. Less turning translates to less air being absorbed by the dough (oxidation), thereby preserving the precious carotene pigments in the flour.

The other major advantage of using the autolyse period during mixing is that in the temporary absence of salt during this period, the enzymes in the fl our can become much more active. Protease, especially, can work to degrade some of the elasticity that might result from using large amounts of pre-ferment and this subtle weakening of the protein bonds makes the baguette dough much more extensible.

Bulk fermentation is the term applied to the period just after the dough has been mixed and during which the dough is allowed to mature before division into portions. Typically, it can vary in length from 0–15 minutes for so-called no-time dough to 4–5 hours or more for some traditional baguettes or sourdough.

mariana's picture

Hi David, welcome to TFL!

The difference is that there is no fermentation during autolyse. All fermentation happens during bulk fermentation when yeast or sourdough starter is added.

Autolyse is just water and flour blended and rested for a while. It is easier to knead it later then while adding everything else in the recipe. 

First, autolyse. Then add yeast and ferment one large piece of dough (bulk). After that, divide into loaves, etc...


gavinc's picture

Hi, Mariana. Your reply is much more consolidated than mine and probably a more appropriate reply. However, can I suggest that the autolyse can include a liquid levain where it contains a considerable amount of water from the overall formula? That has been my practice for years, following Hamelman's formulas (125% hydration levain).



mariana's picture

Hi Gavin.

Of course. 

Autolyse these days means million things to million people.

It essentially means a pause before kneading. Mix-> pause ("autolyse")-> knead-> bulk ferment.

So these days autolyse can be salted or not, yeasted or not, with or without sourdough starter or levain in it, etc. 

Calvel discovered it when he worked with a very strong flour which needed to be predigested by protease, it was for yeasted bread. Normally, that flour was so strong that the bread wasn't rising, no extensibility - too much gluten and gluten was too strong. So he predigested flour, broke down some protein in it by autolysing it, and it became supple, giving breads good volume. 

These days "autolyse" is mostly used for other purposes, to hydrate flour, wait until gluten forms before kneading it, etc. It is no longer used to destroy gluten, to weaken it.

When you use your levain, mix your dough and let it rest before kneading it, you do autolyse in a sense, especially if your levain's acid load is not too high, not high enough to block enzymatic activity, because sourdough microbes need about one hour to adjust to the new environment before they take off and start fermenting at full speed. 

best wishes,