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Kneading moderately-high hydration doughs by hand?


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#1 HowardLi

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 09:18 PM

I'm talking about the kind of dough that's got enough water in it to be extremely sticky, and yet, not enough water to stretch easily. How best to handle these by hand?

I looked at Reinhart's video on YouTube with the pouring of the dough and the oiled surface, but e.g. the rustic Italian bread by CI isn't pourable at all and is very, very sticky.

#2 Shalmanese

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 09:36 PM

I think with wet doughs, it's easier to go with the no-knead method and just let the hydration develop the gluten. I've given up trying to knead extremely wet doughs, either by hand or in a mixer.
PS: I am a guy.

#3 Lisa Shock

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:14 PM

I've managed on occasion, in emergency situations, to get by with stirring with a large sturdy spoon. I just kind of pretended to be the mixer. It's tough on the wrists. And, you'll need to make sure the bowl is secure.

#4 HowardLi

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:41 PM

I think with wet doughs, it's easier to go with the no-knead method and just let the hydration develop the gluten. I've given up trying to knead extremely wet doughs, either by hand or in a mixer.

How long can a dough develop gluten at room temperature before it can no longer be shaped and baked

#5 Mjx

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 02:40 AM

I make bread from high-hydration dough on a regular basis (in fact, I make little else), because I love the finished consistency of the bread.
I tried kneading this stuff by hand exactly once. I then switched to mixing loop, which gave great results (and great arms), but the wire broke, which is when I switched to a handheld mixer with dough hooks.

I just combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, let it sit 20 minutes (a sort-of autolyse; the yeast is in there, too), then go at it with a the handheld mixer. Then I let it rise (I seldom give the dough a long rise), transfer it to a pan (or banetton, if I'm going to be doing this in the Dutch oven), give it a second rise (alsoo usually short and at room temperature), and bake it.

The results are inevitably good; I adapted an America's Test Kitchen recipe, and they're very reliable.

Longer rises give even better results with a more complex flavour, but usually, my boyfriend casually mentions we're almost completely out of bread, so I end up making it at the last minute.

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#6 weinoo

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:24 AM

The results are inevitably good; I adapted an America's Test Kitchen recipe, and they're very reliable.

Tell us your secret, Michaela :wink: .
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#7 pkeibel

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:28 AM

I have had some success using wet hands and using the fast method of lift and slap. It does make a mess but works

#8 Mjx

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:51 PM


The results are inevitably good; I adapted an America's Test Kitchen recipe, and they're very reliable.

Tell us your secret, Michaela :wink: .


Eh. It's just the skeleton of their sandwich bread recipe, which I posted about back in July:

. . . . I use a reworked version of The Best Recipe’s sandwich bread recipe (since most of it ends up as sandwiches). I scrapped the sugar, since neither of us likes sweet bread, and either use no fat, or olive oil instead of melted butter (this is due to unrelenting sloth on my part). My basic recipe is 500g/17.6 oz. flour, a cup and half/355 ml of water, 3–5 g/0.1–0.18 oz salt, and 10g/0.35 oz fresh yeast. After proofing the yeast, I just mix everything together and let it sit about 20 minutes (a sort-of autolyse, but with all the ingredients), to give the flour time to absorb water, then use a hand mixer until the consistency feels right.

This gives me a very loose dough:

Dough.jpg

Once it’s risen, I transfer it to a loaf pan, oil the surface, and let it rise again. I slash the top with scissors, bake it for 20 minutes with a pan of water, then about half an hour longer (I really need to keep an eye on this oven, since it tends to have weird heat spikes than can char things in just a few minutes) with the convection on.

This is the quick-and-dirty version: often, I have to fit bread-baking around a tight work schedule, so this is pretty stripped down. When there’s time, I extend one or both rises, but even when that doesn’t happen, I’m surprised by how well it comes out, so I’m quite grateful to The Best Recipe for this one.

Bread.jpg

. . . .


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#9 HungryC

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:33 AM

"Stretch and fold" will develop the gluten as effectively as kneading in a high hydration dough. It is easiest to perform in a large container. Stir the ingredients together, allow to sit for a bit to auto lose, then grab one side of the mass and pull it upward. Fold this section over to the opposite side, then do the same motion about a quarter turn from the first "grab". Chad Robertson promotes this sort of kneading in his Tartine Bread book. If you google stretch and fold, you will find videos, etc. his doughs are made with a young sourdough leaven, so the stretch and folds are performed every 30 minutes for several hours.

The length of time a dough can sit at room temp depends on its composition....doughs with very little yeast can go 12-18 hours. Check out the famous Lahey no knead bread to get an idea about long rises.