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rans6andrew
2nd Jan 2015, 21:23
hand bread makers....

when I first made bread by hand I was too gentle with the kneading. The gluten didn't form effectively and my loaves lacked shape and texture. Since then, I have seen a professional bread baker at work and noticed how much effort he seemed to be applying. I was not close enough to see just how much stress the dough was suffering.

Can any of you hand bread makers tell me, when kneading the dough should the dough be stretched until it tears (as it does if stretched too far)?

The other secret that took me a while to find out is that the amount of water given in a recipe is only a guide. Don't add all of it at the beginning of mixing/kneading. Only add as much water as is needed to for the dough to take up all of the flour. Any wetter than this and the dough will not be stiff enough to rise without turning into a pizza base (this applies to loaves cooked on a flat sheet rather than in a tin).

Last thing, when should the slits to top of the dough be cut? Some say before the final proving, some say just before putting into the oven. When and why?

Thanks,

Rans6.......

foresight
2nd Jan 2015, 22:11
No need to tear the dough when kneading. I find it is a question of 'how long' rather than how much force.

Water - as much as you dare!

Prove in a banneton, score immediately before putting in a very hot oven. Preferably on a pre-heated baking stone. I use a granite "worktop protector" from Tesco.
I find this gives maximum oven spring and good crust.
Turn oven down after 5 mins.

All my bread is sourdough, so technique might be different.

Solid Rust Twotter
3rd Jan 2015, 06:33
The purpose of kneading is to fold air into the dough and stretch it. I use one hand to fold and stretch while the other just rotates the bowl after each action. The recipe I use is one I've developed at the brewery and uses beer along with water, salt and yeast. It takes about three to five minutes to mix and knead, then into a plastic bag and bunged in a corner to prove. Makes everything from pita on the braai (barbecue) and dumplings, to flatbread to pizza base and vetkoek as well as turning out a pretty good loaf.

I slash the top about half an hour into the second prove to give it room to expand. I don't glaze the bread, just as is with the residual flour from knocking it down.

Second prove not required when making pita/pizza/flatbread (on barbecue)/vetkoek/dumplings et al.

oldchina
3rd Jan 2015, 09:30
Why not just pop out to the boulangerie, or whatever it's called where you are?

Rossian
3rd Jan 2015, 15:02
....as an alternative to all the suggestions here, seek out on the Utoob "Paul Hollywood's bread recipes" and you can watch close up and see how much effort he puts in. Big shoulders he has, since he's been kneading dough forever.

The Ancient Mariner

mixture
3rd Jan 2015, 18:19
Can any of you hand bread makers tell me, when kneading the dough should the dough be stretched until it tears (as it does if stretched too far)?

You don't want to tear the dough as part of your kneading process because you are merely doing the opposite to what you wish to achieve.

Using a repetitive process of your choice, you want to stretch the dough, lengthening those gluten strands until you can successfully carry out the window pane test.

Try the Richard Bertinet Slap & Fold method if you've got dainty girls's arms !

Any wetter than this and the dough will not be stiff enough to rise without turning into a pizza base

Or at least that's what you think.... :E

Truth is stiff dough is for beginners. High-hydration doughs are for the masters !

But don't run before you can walk. Master stiff doughs first !

Beware though, water plays a crucial part in binding starch and gluten during kneading .... so too little water and you might find yourself overworking your dough ! I would be careful in reducing the recipe quantities too much.

Last thing, when should the slits to top of the dough be cut? Some say before the final proving, some say just before putting into the oven. When and why?

At the end. The purpose for the slits is to control the expansion of dough in the oven rather than it tearing randomly at some point.

You can also use it for decorative purposes (i.e. to bake patterns into the bread), the French call it the "bakers signature".

Either way, the point is the same ... at the end before you stick it in the oven.

Preferably on a pre-heated baking stone.

You don't need to faff around with a baking stone. I use a thick sheet from a French cookware supplier ... it doesn't warp or bend and heats up nicely.

foresight
3rd Jan 2015, 21:28
I do find I get a better rise from the baking stone than the sheet I used previously. Presumably because it stores the initial heat (250C) after I have turned the oven down to 190C.

As regards hydration, my everyday loaf is about 62% hydration. This is perfectly kneadable by hand, though a little messy for the first minute or two. Wholemeal flour tends to be easier.
Anything much over that, one of the various stretch and fold methods are better - plenty of info on the Internet.

The cuts decide the final shape of the loaf - it does take practice to get them right.

The potential for argument re-bread making is as great as anything on threads about religion or Asian air crashes! What matters is that it works for you.

ChrisVJ
4th Jan 2015, 04:38
I use a bread maker about four times a week but bake my bread in the oven. (I have a loaf getting its second rise as I write.)

After about nine years I learned a couple of months ago that Ciabatta is made with about 40% more water, come out really sloppy, second proofs for longer, gets misted before going in and comes out nice and crusty. (But if you leave it too long it collapses!)

I think you would seriously have to over hydrate your bread to ruin it.

sitigeltfel
4th Jan 2015, 05:51
.............Can any of you hand bread makers tell me............

........The other secret that took me a while to find out..........

.........when should the slits to top of the dough be cut?.

That you have to ask all this means your security clearance in such matters is not at a high enough level to warrant disclosure.

You must surely have heard of the "Knead to know" principal?

;)

PingDit
4th Jan 2015, 12:42
I agree with Rossian. Paul's been making bread for ages. Here you go...


BBC - Food - Recipes : How to make easy white bread (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/paul_hollywoods_crusty_83536)

rans6andrew
4th Jan 2015, 20:13
I now remember where the tip about just enough water to allow the dough to take up all of the flour came from. It was on one of Paul H's recipes.

Incidentally, the recipes in the book supplied with our bread making machine mostly call for 70% water to flour. This makes a very sloppy dough but I think it works because the bread tin constrains the shape. It would slump to a pizza base if left to prove on a baking sheet but it does make it easy for the machine to knead it.

My best tin-less loaf to date used just 54% water and 8% olive oil (zero butter or other fat). Plenty of height and a good crust.

Rans6..............?..

mixture
4th Jan 2015, 20:33
This makes a very sloppy dough but I think it works because the bread tin constrains the shape. It would slump to a pizza base if left to prove on a baking sheet but it does make it easy for the machine to knead it.


No, no and no. :E

One of the many things I regularly make is a lovely Ciabatta recipe that's 70% (62.5% water, 7.5% of Italy's finest).

No slumpage in sight, its last rise takes place on a baker's linen, holds it shape and bakes on a sheet.

Hydration level is nothing to do with making it easier for machines anyway !

Amongst other things, quality of flour has a lot to do with liquid absorption abilities ! Most flours can do 60% without much of a problem, maybe 65% if you're lucky. But if you're looking to make the leap up to the 70-80% range then you'll need to pay more attention in the flour procurement department !

ChrisVJ
4th Jan 2015, 21:29
Percent? What's a percent? For Pete's sake, a slop of this, four or five lumps of that and squeeze or two of the other. No problem.

mixture
4th Jan 2015, 21:31
Percent? What's a percent?

A Baker's Percent.... where everything is expressed as a percentage of the flour content.

Makes it much easier to scale up and scale down recipes.... e.g. if your recipe needs, say, 1kg of flour but you've only got 734g in the bag ... much quicker to work out the rest of the ingredients with percentages.

It is also a useful tool to compare different recipes..... or indeed comparing the water absorption qualities of different flours.

So when we say 70% hydration, we mean 700g of water for 1kg of flour.... or 513.8g for 734g of flour :E

foresight
4th Jan 2015, 21:53
It would slump to a pizza base if left to prove on a baking sheet

It will lose it's shape if you prove it on a baking sheet. Use a banneton or linen to hold its shape. You can then turn it onto silicon baking paper and slide it onto the baking sheet (or stone) to make life easier.