The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The Science of Rest

Brotnik's picture

The Science of Rest

Why is always rounded to the hour?  Isn't this somwhat arbirtary?  Does nature get paid by the hour?

What is going on with an unleavened dough during an rest, with flour, water, oil, and salt?  Maybe this way I can decide just how long to let it rest.



fancypantalons's picture

Well, if I'm not mistaken, a rest period does these three things:

1) Further enhances gluten development.  As the dough sits there, the proteins in the flour continue to hydrate and form gluten, which knits together into a nice little web.  Often this is referred to as an autolyze phase, although normally an autolyze involves only water and salt (though, IMHO, that definition is overly restrictive :).

2) Gives time for the gluten structure to relax.  This simply makes the dough more extensible, which means it's much easier to manipulate and shape (my tortilla recipe uses a rest period in order to make the dough easier to roll out).

3) Provides time for enzymes in the flour to break out starches into sugars.

'course, whether or not a long rest makes sense in your case depends entirely on the recipe.  My suggestion:  experiment.  Try shortening the rest period in order to see what effect it has.  It may be that you can get away with a much shorter rest, or that a longer one improves the result... but you won't know until you try. :)