The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Bassinage vs straight dough

tttt1010's picture

Bassinage vs straight dough

I'm watching this video on Pan de Cristal by Bread by Joyride Coffee

He uses the bassinage technique to add water little by little to increase the dough hydration. I'm wondering what the purpose of this is versus mixing all of the liquid with the flour. Does adding water bit by it help develop the gluten more somehow?

gavinc's picture

Bassinage method is used when mixing wetter doughs. Hold back about 10% of the liquid. The gluten will develop more readily in this drier environment. When the dough has attained the degree of strength you seek, slowly add the remaining water. Hamelman says that he finds this to be particularly effective technique when he mixes at home with doughs whose hydration is above about 70 percent.


tttt1010's picture

Disregarding the cost of time, would this technique be superior to all others for high hydration doughs? Or is there some scenarios where this would create a worse bread?

gavinc's picture

I only know of this technique. I don't know the others, so can't comment on them.

JonJ's picture

I've had doughs where I started too hydrated for the flour and could never recover, it just never built the gluten.

Think that, with bassinage, I could get those same doughs to the same hydration and the outcome would be much stronger.

So, I do believe that the order in which you do things matters even though the final dough will have the same recipe/hydration.

mariana's picture

Sure, there is at least one such scenario. At 110% hydration "all in" mixing method gives you a variety of pourable batters and batter breads, including pancakes, waffles, crumpets, muffins, and yeasted batter breads baked in loaf pans. 

Using bassinage method of continuous hydration will dramatically change the structure and the very nature of the dough, it will no longer be a batter, and will make all the resulting breads "worse", not typical, let alone prohibitively expensive to make. 

Continuous hydration technique of mixing dough or resulting breads are not superior to anything. If you look at the recipes for such breads, you will see that they have more water than flour, i.e. the baker essentially charges you for the weight of water when they sell you such bread. They are also very empty, airy, the baker sells you a large batch of air inside crust. These breads would be very time and labor consuming to make, i.e. expensive both for the baker and the consumer, similar to croissants, where layering and airiness is created by tons of fat, a total opposite to batter breads at 110%hydration which are quick and easy.

albacore's picture

Bassinage is just a technique for effectively developing gluten in high hydration doughs, especially if using a mixer.

Say you have a recipe with a final hydration of 80% then if you mix straight away at 80% hydration, you will struggle to develop hydration effectively with such a wet dough.

Much better to mix at 68-70% hydration, first at low speed, then fast, until gluten is developed and then trickle in the last of the water (bassinage) to bring the hydration up to 80%.

I guess the same technique can also be applied to hand mixed dough, though it's always messy to get the bassinage in by hand.



dcm1988's picture

The mixer you are using matters as well. A typical planetary mixer will struggle to incorporate the bassinage while a spiral mixer typically has an easier time of it. I have known bakers who would add the bassinage by hand, then head back to the mixing bowl after incorporation.