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SethG

"Turning" the dough

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"Turning" seems to be all the rage among artisanal bakers. The technique, which involves mixing/kneading less than all the way, and then stretching and folding the dough several times as it rises-- at intervals of 20-30 minutes or an hour-- was designed, I think, to counteract the oxidizing/bleaching effects of big commercial mixers.

Whatever its origins, many now recommend the technique to home bakers (Maggie Glezer's book comes to mind). Do you think it has much to offer home bakers, or are our mixers too wimpy to do the kind of damage the big ones do? (Also, is there any reason to use the turning technique if you knead by hand?)


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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"Turning" seems to be all the rage among artisanal bakers.  The technique, which involves mixing/kneading less than all the way, and then stretching and folding the dough several times as it rises-- at intervals of 20-30 minutes or an hour-- was designed, I think, to counteract the oxidizing/bleaching effects of big commercial mixers.

Whatever its origins, many now recommend the technique to home bakers (Maggie Glezer's book comes to mind).  Do you think it has much to offer home bakers, or are our mixers too wimpy to do the kind of damage the big ones do?  (Also, is there any reason to use the turning technique if you knead by hand?)

I'm a big fan of the "turning," also called stretch and fold, technique for certain breads such as ciabatta, focaccia, pizza, and French baguette. You nailed it when you explained that it's all about minimizing the oxidation of the caratene pigments (which add flavor and aroma to the baked loaf). But even more importantly, it's used to minimize over-organization of the gluten network. Some breads, like sandwich loaves, brioche, challah, soft enriched doughs, etc. require well organized gluten networks to create even-sized holes. But hearth breads are better with large irregular holes. If we develop the gluten just enough to hold together but not to the point of full organization of the strands, you have a better chance for large, irregular holes. These, again, translate into better flavor since the larger holes tranfer heat faster into the loaf, and thus it gels the starches, caramelizes the sugars, and roasts the proteins more thoroughly. It's always, in the end, about flavor and large irregular holes, simply stated, cause the bread to taste better. The turn, or stretch and fold method, allows additional strengthening of the gluten without additional mixing. It wouldn't make much diference in long mix doughs but is very important for short mix doughs.

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Thank you, Peter, for that explicit explanation on the gluten reaction.

One practical advantage to turning the dough for home bread bakers that are mixing and kneading by hand is that due to the gluten reaction the dough is easier to handle when it rests between your manipulations. This might not be a big issue for many of you, but for people with less than steel grip hands for dough hooks it can make the difference between baking bread a joy, or not at all.


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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"The technique, which involves mixing/kneading less than all the way, and then stretching and folding the dough several times as it rises-- at intervals of 20-30 minutes or an hour...

Hey Seth,

I've been following Jack Lang's instructions for sourdough bread on e-gullet and his recipe says to let the dough have a first rise for about two hours and then start turning. Does it make a difference whether you start turning during or after the first rise?

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You only turn the dough during the first, bulk fermentation, rise

JL

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All of these responses are helpful, but if I may follow up, Chef, I'm interested in one other thing. You recommend this technique for wet, Italian doughs, and for French baguettes-- what about for a standard white country sourdough/levain bread? In your books you recommend thoroughly kneading such doughs, and I don't think I've seen you mention turning with regard to these breads. But I believe irregular hole structure is always a plus. Should I knead my next sourdough loaf a lot less, and not even try for the "windowpane," but "turn" it a few times instead? Or are you saying that it won't make much af a difference unless the dough is wet enough to produce golf ball-sized holes?

Thanks again for your advice!


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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You only turn the dough during the first, bulk fermentation, rise

JL

Oh, hi, Jackal! Quickly just wanted to let you know that I've been happily following your sourdough lesson to practice my breadmaking--thanks so much for it! Sorry but just to reconfirm: the first rise is also the bulk fermentation? I thought it went first rise (don't touch), then bulk fermentation (turn dough).

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I now turn all my doughs. Helps lots

Bulk fermentation is the first rise, before you divide the dough into individual loaves

Proof is the second rise, with the individual loaves rising

There are ten steps in a typical sourdough:

1) Sponge. A proportion (maybe 30%) of the flour and water is mixed with the yeast (or starter) and fermented (maybe 6 hours or overnight) to give flavour and generate a large culture population. However the gluten in this flour will be somewhat degraded by the acid conditons, and some of the available sugars used up. For large batches you can build the sponge in two or even three stages, adding twice the amount of flour and water each time

2)Mix: Mix the remaining flour and water, but not the salt with all of the sponge. Need only roughly mix until the dough is homgeneous as it is time, rather than mechanical work, that develops the gluten.

3) Autolyze. Leave in the mixer (or mixing bowl) for half an hour. This allows the enzymes to break down some of the starch into simple sugars. Salt jams this process. Some claim the enzymes are present in the flour, not the yeast, so just mix the flour and the water, adding the sponge at the next step. They claim this gives less time for the acid to degrade the gluten, and they leave the water and flour mixed for a long period, like overnight in the fridge.

4) Second mix: Add the salt, and mix or knead until evenly distributed

5) Bulk fermentation: Leave in a warm (85F) place, TURNING about every hour for four hours, at least for my sourdough. Handle gently - the dough is expanding, and bcomes increasingly fragile, and you want to retain as much of the gas as you can

6) Divide and scale (weigh) into individual loaves, Leave 15 mins or so to recover.

7) Shape, and put into bannetons or linen folds for baguettes. The dough is now quite tender, and needs minimum disturbance.

8) Prove (second rise) in a warm place to prove, and/or retard in a cool place. I don't prove but put mine for between 8 and 24 hours overnight in the fridge. Retardation allows you rather than the dough to choose when you bake, and since it drys the outside somewhat gives a better crust. The cold dough is also stiffer and a lot easier to handle.

9) Bake. Turn out the loaves and slash the tops The loaves will almost double (oven spring) in the hot oven. An initial burst of steam gelatanises the outside and helps bith the rise and the crust

10) Cool

Enjoy!


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Thank you so much for the clarification, Jackal! I'm actually waiting for my starter to reach its peak right now so that I can bake up another batch of bread. Your detailed instructions came just in time. Yay.

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All of these responses are helpful, but if I may follow up, Chef, I'm interested in one other thing.  You recommend this technique for wet, Italian doughs, and for French baguettes-- what about for a standard white country sourdough/levain bread?  In your books you recommend thoroughly kneading such doughs, and I don't think I've seen you mention turning with regard to these breads.  But I believe irregular hole structure is always a plus.  Should I knead my next sourdough loaf a lot less, and not even try for the "windowpane," but "turn" it a few times instead?  Or are you saying that it won't make much af a difference unless the dough is wet enough to produce golf ball-sized holes?

Thanks again for your advice!

You can use this method for any bread dough but the results are more dramatic with wet dough breads like ciabatta and focaccia, and also with baguette-style doughs--wherever large irregular holes are called for. It is less an issue in enriched doughs like sandwich bread and such, but anytime you feel that your dough is not quite developed enough a turn can dramatically strengthen it.

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2)Mix: Mix the remaining flour and water, but not the salt with all of the sponge. Need only roughly mix until the dough is homgeneous as it is time, rather than mechanical work, that develops the gluten.

Jack,

I've been putting your advice to work over the last couple of weeks on my basic rustic loaf (which is a reliable but unexciting Cooks Illustrated recipe that has been slowly tweaked and improved.) I had already learned to cut back on the kneading in favor of turning, but eliminating kneading altogether? Revolutionary! But it totally works. That whole kneading the dough thing, it's so over. I'll miss it though.

michael


"Tis no man. Tis a remorseless eating machine."

-Captain McAllister of The Frying Dutchmen, on Homer Simpson

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I learnt it from Dan Lepard...

A short knead is still helpful to ensure the dough is homogenous, but the purpose is to mix, rather then stretch.

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I learnt it from Dan Lepard...

A short knead is still helpful to ensure the dough is homogenous, but the purpose is to mix, rather then stretch.

I know Dan--he's a serious, dedicated baker and teacher in England. Thanks for sharing all your great tips, Jackal. Are you baking or teaching professionally or just a passionate home baker? Whichever, you seem to have a true "grok" on bread. Thanks!

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I know Dan--he's a serious, dedicated baker and teacher in England. Thanks for sharing all your great tips, Jackal. Are you baking or teaching professionally or just a passionate home baker? Whichever, you seem to have a true "grok" on bread. Thanks!

Thanks I stunned by your high praise, but I'm just a bread amateur. It is much easier to make money from computers, and to bake for friends.

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Thanks I stunned by your high praise, but I'm just a bread amateur. It is much easier to make money from computers, and to bake for friends.

You got that right!!

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Greetings,

I would like to add a few comments about stretch and fold. All of the above statements are quite accurate, but other factors are, a stretch and fold strengthens the dough, expels excess gas, and can even out the temperature in larger batches. There is a school of thought that oxygen is incorporated at this time which enables yeast reproduction. Doughs with a higher percentage of water often require more than one or even two manipulations at regular intervals. For example, a Ciabatta hydrated at 73% or higher will receive three stretch and folds over a 3 to 3 1/4 hour bulk fermentation. James McGuire taught a baguette recipe this summer with 78% hydration using an autolyse, no preferment, and two minutes of mixing. It received two stretch and folds during a bulk fermentation of three hours. As you might imagine, the dough was very wet and very slack coming off the mixer. It reached proper development after primary fermentation and produced a loaf with a beautiful and open crumb with a creamy color. Regarding doughs less hydrated, I almost always include a stretch and fold during the bulk fermentation, but only once. This would be true for naturally leavened bread as well as those employing commercial yeast.

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I'm really so grateful for this Q & A. I tried turning a sourdough loaf-- bulk fermentation Wednesday, overnight retardation, baked off yesterday morning. For me, what was new was that I kneaded (by hand) as little as possible-- I added flour and kneaded just until the point at which I felt the dough was fully mixed together and had the right amount of hydration, which only took a few minutes. Usually, I knead by hand for ten minutes or more until I see the windowpane.

I turned it four times in the first two and a half hours of bulk fermentation, leaving it alone to complete bulk fermentation for another two and a half hours (five hours total).

After baking, this loaf had much bigger and more irregular holes than I usually get. Taste: great, but better than usual? Hard to say without a side-by-side comparison. But I'm a convert! I love the holes.

Thanks everyone.

(I'm still waiting for Brother Peter's wisdom on the autolyse, by the way!)


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Greetings Seth,

In response to your query concerning autolyse: This is the incorporation of the flour and water in a recipe. The flour and water are only barely incorporated to the point of what looks like and is referred to as a "shaggy mass." This mixture rests for 20 to 30 minutes. After the resting period, other ingredients are added (salt and yeast). The benefit of autolyse is improved links of starch, gluten, and water resulting in a more extensible dough. That is why autolyse is most commonly, but not exclusively, used for ciabbata and baguette processes as the dough will be extended in the shaping step. Naturally leavened breads benefit from autolyse as do any other prefermented breads. When mixing resumes, the dough reaches development more quickly and easily, thereby reducing mixing time (and oxidation). The axiom is, oxidation equals a loss of flavor due to, among other things, the destruction of the carotenoid pigments. Remember that the dough will continue to develop throughout the entire process up until baking, so take care not to develop the dough fully in the mixer. Development will continue through (and as a result of) stretch and fold, pre-shaping, shaping, and even the final proof. A dough that is less mixed will produce a creamier and more elastic crumb, greater volume, and a more open and irregular cell structure. I employ the autolyse baking at home and in commercial applications. Remember, this was a development by Professor Calvel who wanted to see what would happen when he mixed only the flour and water. The results were observed and noted by him and the procedhre has been incorporated into production schedules around the world because it works. The one drawback in commercial situations is that it does monopolize the mixing bowl for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. A creative mixing schedule will circumvent that issue. Good luck with autolyse -- it's a beautiful thing.

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Greetings,

I would like to add a few comments about stretch and fold.  All of the above statements are quite accurate, but other factors are, a stretch and fold strengthens the dough, expels excess gas, and can even out the temperature in larger batches.  There is a school of thought that oxygen is incorporated at this time which enables yeast reproduction.  Doughs with a higher percentage of water often require more than one or even two manipulations at regular intervals.  For example, a Ciabatta hydrated at 73%  or higher will receive three stretch and folds over a 3 to 3 1/4 hour bulk fermentation.  James McGuire taught a baguette recipe this summer with 78% hydration using an autolyse, no preferment, and two minutes of mixing.  It received two stretch and folds during a bulk fermentation of three hours.  As you might imagine, the dough was very wet and very slack coming off the mixer.  It reached proper development after primary fermentation and produced a loaf with a beautiful and open crumb with a creamy color.  Regarding doughs less hydrated, I almost always include a stretch and fold during the bulk fermentation, but only once.  This would be true for naturally leavened bread as well as those employing commercial yeast.

Great info, Boulak!

Jamie's baguette technique sounds like a variation of the pain a l'ancienne method that I've been using for so many wonderful products like baguettes, ciabatta, pizza, and focaccia. This technique has great implications for the next wave of craft baking in America and beyond. We've only scratched the surface of it's possibilities.

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I am reading this with interest, because my croissants are coming out a little more bready than I would like. By this I mean the grain is tighter and not as holey or stringy as others I've seen and tasted. I'm wondering if the stretching and pulling method is applicable at all to laminated doughs, and if so, how I would apply it. If not, how do I achieve a more open texture? The only thing I can think of is mixing the dough less initially, making the dough wetter, and maybe doing less turns. Currently, I'm mixing for about 30-45 seconds in my Hobart, which brings the dough away from the sides of the bowl. I do 4 double turns before shaping.

Chef Reinhart, thanks in advance for your help. I discovered your books last summer, and they literally changed my life (your pain Poilane rocks). I also grew up on Murray's corned beef sandwiches and Mama's pizza, which made your books even more enjoyable.

Marjorie

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I'm really so grateful for this Q & A.  I tried turning a sourdough loaf-- bulk fermentation Wednesday, overnight retardation, baked off yesterday morning.  For me, what was new was that I kneaded (by hand) as little as possible-- I added flour and kneaded just until the point at which I felt the dough was fully mixed together and had the right amount of hydration, which only took a few minutes.  Usually, I knead by hand for ten minutes or more until I see the windowpane.

I turned it four times in the first two and a half hours of bulk fermentation, leaving it alone to complete bulk fermentation for another two and a half hours (five hours total).

After baking, this loaf had much bigger and more irregular holes than I usually get.  Taste:  great, but better than usual?  Hard to say without a side-by-side comparison.  But I'm a convert!  I love the holes.

Thanks everyone.

(I'm still waiting for Brother Peter's wisdom on the autolyse, by the way!)

See Boulaks's response above (or is it below?)--I don't think I can top that. Remember, this technique is more significant in lean, plain doughs that rely totally on the flavor of the fermented grain (as opposed to enrichments). It doesn't make much of a difference in rich or enriched breads where the flavor comes from sugar, dairy, or fat. It all comes down to what I call the Bread Baker's Mission: "To evoke the full potential of flavor from the grain." These various techniques and tricks must have some impact on flavor or texture, even if subtle, or they're a waste of time. That's why Boulak says he uses it primarily for ciabatta and baguettes--it wouldn't help soft roll dough, challah, brioche and the like.

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I am reading this with interest, because my croissants are coming out a little more bready than I would like.  By this I mean the grain is tighter and not as holey or stringy as others I've seen and tasted.  I'm wondering if the stretching and pulling method is applicable at all to laminated doughs, and if so, how I would apply it.  If not, how do I achieve a more open texture?  The only thing I can think of is mixing the dough less initially, making the dough wetter, and maybe doing less turns.  Currently, I'm mixing for about 30-45 seconds in my Hobart, which brings the dough away from the sides of the bowl.  I do 4 double turns before shaping. 

Chef Reinhart, thanks in advance for your help.  I discovered your books last summer, and they literally changed my life (your pain Poilane rocks).  I also grew up on Murray's corned beef sandwiches and Mama's pizza, which made your books even more enjoyable.

Marjorie

Hi Marjorie,

Thanks for your kind words and sorry it took so long to get back to you. I love Mama's cheese steaks the best (and David Rosengarten agrees--see his newsletter report on Philly cheese steaks).

As for croissants, Iusually advise undermixing the dough (that is, just until it barely develops gluten) since it will continue to develop during the laminations and resting periods. Yes, make it slightly wetter as this will make it easier to roll out (with proper flour dusting during the roll-outs) and, perhaps, allow you to use less downward force. My guess is that you're squeezing your layers together by pressing too hard. A double turn (aka bookfold) is hard to do manually and takes a lot of pressure. I'd suggest you do 3 single turns (aka, letter folds), which will still give you plenty of layers (at least 81, up to 135 depending on how you incorporate your butter). If this works, you can then add one more single turn the next time and see if you notice an improvement. I'd guess not. Let me know if this helps (you can write to me after this Q&A ends at peter.reinhart@jwu.edu ).

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I add the yeast (but not the salt) before the autolyse, on the grounds that at least one of the effects is the breaking down of starches into sugars by the enzymes in the yeast, (hence the name "autolyse"), which is inhibited by the salt. Is this wrong? I certainly get a better rise if there is aperiod wit the yeast, but without he salt.

Also in your adaption of the Gosselin process (which I agree is revolutionary) you do not de-gas, and only cut rather than shape and fold the baguettes. Other people empahsise the importance of proper forming techniques for baguettes. Are both right?

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Hi Marjorie,

  Thanks for your kind words and sorry it took so long to get back to you. I love Mama's cheese steaks the best (and David Rosengarten agrees--see his newsletter report on Philly cheese steaks).

  As for croissants, Iusually advise undermixing the dough (that is, just until it barely develops gluten) since it will continue to develop during the laminations and resting periods. Yes, make it slightly wetter as this will make it easier to roll out (with proper flour dusting during the roll-outs) and, perhaps, allow you to use less downward force. My guess is that you're squeezing your layers together by pressing too hard. A double turn (aka bookfold) is hard to do manually and takes a lot of pressure. I'd suggest you do 3 single turns (aka, letter folds), which will still give you plenty of layers (at least 81, up to 135 depending on how you incorporate your butter). If this works, you can then add one more single turn the next time and see if you notice an improvement. I'd guess not. Let me know if this helps (you can write to me after this Q&A ends at peter.reinhart@jwu.edu ).

Marjorie,

I wholeheartedly concur with Peter. You should mix lightly (known as a short mix) as the lamination process is by definition a series of stretch and folds. I would like to add that the holes you refer to (which I like to call a honeycomb) are due to the lamination, not dough development. I also agree with Peter that you might be pressing with the pin too hard. Another consideration is maintaining the same consistencey between your roll-in butter and the dough itself. I like to freeze the dough for thirty minutes before the first roll in. Minutes before the roll in, I pound the butter square (previously formed) and get it to a plastic state. Remove the dough from the freezer and roll in the butter and give a book fold. If the dough is still in good shape, roll out and give the second fold. Otherwise, freeze for thiry minutes and then give the second fold. After the second fold, freeze for 30 minutes and give the third (and final) fold. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and then freeze for thirty minutes. Now fabricate the croissants. By doing this, the roll-in butter retains its consistency and ensures proper layering. When folding, be sure to brush out the excess flour. Bon appetit.

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I tried this whole turning the dough business -- maybe I did it wrong - I dunno but it seemed a lot like a lazy mans way of kneading bread.

I also did something else new which was to put the dough in the fridge overnight.

I have to say that I didnt notice any big difference from my regular way.

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