How do you make your dough ?

celia's picture
celia

I had a conversation with friends last night which I thought might make a nice forum discussion topic.  Years ago, when I first tried to make bread, it was following the instructions in a Jamie Oliver cookbook.  It was quite a traditional method, which involved proofing a sponge of yeast, sugar and warm water, then piling a whole heap of flour on the benchtop, stirring in the salt, making a well in the middle, then adding the yeast liquid in a little at a time, using one hand to work the liquid into the walls of the flour a little bit at a time.

Frankly, it was all too hard, and it used to cover my kitchen with flour.  Because it was such a "take deep breaths and build up your chi" process, I really didn't do it much, and I was always surprised by people who baked often, because it seemed like such a laborious thing to do.  It wasn't until I was given a copy of Richard Bertinet's DOUGH, and subsequently Dan Lepard's THL that I really started to bake regularly.

My process now is to whisk together the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and the wet ingredients in a large one, and then to add the dry to the wet, and mix it in the mixing bowl with my hands.  I then turn the dough onto an oiled bench, and knead lightly, with several rests and folds during the long first rise.  I noticed in the video on the spelt thread that Graham was doing something very similar when he was mixing the spelt dough, and I wondered if that was the new home bread baking process ?

What about you, how do you make your dough ?  I'm curious if anyone still uses the old "well of proofed yeast in the pile of flour on the bench" method ?

Cheers, Celia
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Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey 2008 April 17

Hi Celia.
The "well of proofed yeast in the pile of flour on the bench" is only one of many ways to give you a decent loaf of bread. That's how most people learn to make bread.
It's called the direct method of making dough. It works well for flavoured bread (e.g herb flavoured, cheese bread, sweet stuff, like brioche).
I love baking and I embrace the mess. I've got hairy arms and fingers and it's painful unsticking dry dough off the hairs of my fingers, but I don't mind. I scrape dough off the bench surface etc.
You can make it neater , by mixing in the bowl. While you're kneading, moisten your hands often to reduce dough sticking to them. Oiling the kneading surface also prevents dough from sticking.
Afte you finish with bowl, just scrape the bits of dough down to the bottom of the bowl and add water and let it soak. The bits of dough will come off easily.
I mix my ingredients in a bowl first. When I work with moist dough, I drop some oil on my bench surface and I keep a scraper near by.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 April 17
My mis en place is as follows:

1 medium sized bowl
2 big stainless steel bowls, oiled (grapeseed oil or EVOO depending on the bread)
My biggest cookie sheet pan (14"), lightly oiled
Kitchen towel for covering bowl
Plastic scraper

1. I first weigh all the dry ingredients, and use a balloon whisk to mix them in a one big bowl.
2. All the wet ingredients go into the medium sized bowl.
3. Tip wet ingred into dry ingredients and have fun squishing them together.
4. Scraping fingers of all sticky goo, I let this rest while I wash the medium sized bowl. I like to wash things as I go...I don't have a dishwasher.
5. Scoop dough and plop on the sheet pan. Do 10 sec kneads.
6. Plop this into the other big bowl. Lightly oil surface of dough. Cover.
7. Lightly re-oil sheet pan.
8. Wash first big bowl. And do other light non-breadmaking related tasks.
9. Repeat steps 5 and 6 twice, re-oiling bowl if needed.
10. Wash pan. This way, I don't have a large surface area to wipe and clean. And it's portable, I can do the kneading anywhere I want.

This thread is fun! Thanks for starting it, Celia. I'd love to peek into everyone's kitchen and see how you play with your dough.
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 April 17
[quote=Bushturkey]
[snip]
I love baking and I embrace the mess. I've got hairy arms and fingers and it's painful unsticking dry dough off the hairs of my fingers, but I don't mind.
[snip]
[/quote]

Ouch! and Eek! and imagining all sorts of things....
PaddyL 2008 April 17
I have all my father's old baking cards from his days as a home baker; he kept very detailed records of every batch he made, including the weather, temperature, etc.  And I remember when he went through the "wet to dry or dry to wet" debate with himself, and me drawn in to speculate.  We both came to the conclusion that it was safer adding dry to wet.  Neither of us dared use the heap of flour on the board method, preferring to do all the mixing in a large bowl.  The kitchen was basically my mother's turf, and we were given "windows of time" in which to do our baking, after which everything had to be cleaned up and tidied away so she could do her own thing, so the thought of heaps of flour was not to our liking.  My father would have been fascinated by all the bread-baking going on today, by all the bread stories being tossed around, and even more fascinated by the sourdough discussions.  He was a chemist, and would have thrown himself into the talk of bacilli and bacteria with great fervour.  I swear I can "feel" his smile every time I stir up or feed my starter!
canadianmountaingoat's picture
canadianmountaingoat 2008 April 18
Hi folks,

Thanks to Celia for this thread - it's been very helpful! I'm still trying to work out exactly how to get on with sourdough and I've wondered about the "wet to dry" or "dry to wet" question as well. So far I've been adding flour to the starter + water in a large bowl. I then tip the mess into a mixer with dough hook but that spreads the flour all over the kitchen - it's not a gently process! So today, when I bake the next batch, I'll try to mix most by hand and use the dough hook only at the very end, and for a very short time. I am using a recipe posted here somewhere as a link with whole wheat, white, and rye - the latter of which I'll replace with the tiny bit of spelt I have left.

Thanks for sharing your experience here. It's ever so useful!

goat
celia's picture
celia 2008 April 18
[quote=Bushturkey]
I love baking and I embrace the mess. I've got hairy arms and fingers and it's painful unsticking dry dough off the hairs of my fingers, but I don't mind. I scrape dough off the bench surface etc.
[/quote]

LOL !!  Which is why bakers never need waxing..  :D
celia's picture
celia 2008 April 18

...is almost the same as yours, TP, except that I don't use the oiled trays.  I'm also lazy, so instead of a clean bowl to rise in, I just spray a bit of oil into the one I've mixed in originally, and then cover the top with a saucepan lid.  I'm thinking of investing in some large plastic containers to rise in, though, so I can check how much it's risen without opening the lid all the time.

Goat, have you ever considered just kneading by hand instead of using the dough hook ?  It's quite an easy process, particularly if your dough is fairly hydrated. In case it's of interest - here is the method I use to knead, as taught by Richard Bertinet.  He's making a sweet dough here, but I use that kneading technique (lift, slap and fold over) for all my wet doughs, and it works really well. What I do differently from his video is the prep (because I'm using a starter rather than yeast) - I whisk the wet ingredients in a large bowl first, then add the whisked dry ingredients, and mix them all together with my hands.  And secondly, I always put a little oil on the bench before I start kneading .. :)

Cheers, Celia


PaddyL 2008 April 18
I just scrape out the bowl as much as I can, then grease it and plunk the dough back into it, but I cover it with plastic wrap so I can see how it's rising.  Even on those necessary occasions when I've had to use the dough hook, I always gave the dough a bit of a hand knead before setting it to rise.  Most of last summer it was a one-handed knead with plenty of yelps whenever I inadvertantly moved my right, broken, shoulder, but I have to get my hand (s) in the dough.
celia's picture
celia 2008 April 18

Paddy, you're a trooper, I can't imagine kneading with a broken shoulder !!  Hopefully you're all mended now.  I love your story about your dad - I hope one day my kids will be saying the same sorts of things about me (as opposed to "my mother was insane, the house was always full of flour..")  :D

Cheers, Celia
canadianmountaingoat's picture
canadianmountaingoat 2008 April 18
This is so helpful! Your video links in this thread and in the loaf shaping one have really caused the light bulbs to go off in my head!

Yes, I am definitely going to try hand kneading next time. For now, I am crunching on a fresh loaf that just about sprung out of the oven! The crumb is great, I've never made a bread with a crumb as professional looking and tasting as that! I used Dan Lepard's recipe from a link here somewhere, so now I have two recipes that worked well for me.

Thanks!
goat


celia's picture
celia 2008 April 19

Goatgirl, I can't get over how much rise you're getting in your loaves - that looks fantastic !  Did you follow the 24 hour process in the recipe, and rise the dough in the fridge overnight ?
canadianmountaingoat's picture
canadianmountaingoat 2008 April 19
Hi Celia,

I did follow the recipe, yes. BUT, I started by making a leaven overnight to give me the full amount of starter required in the recipe - 475g - from the 50g starter I had. I then prepared the dough as the recipe says with all ingredients in it, and let that sit in the fridge for 8 hours. After that, I did the fold and rest every hour for 2 hours.  Then I was meant to leave the house so I put the two loaves in the fridge for about half an hour, but I decided not to leave. So I pulled them out of the fridge and let them prove at room temp (20C) for an hour until they had doubled in volume.

These loaves rose more than those with the higher spelt content I posted on the spelt bake-off thread. In fact, they cracked open on the side - another shaping error I think. I just can't get the dough to be as soft, light and malleable as what's required to do the stretching technique properly!

These loaves are made with my own starter, which took AGES to get going! I followed Dom's instructions from this site; a good 17 days I think until the bubbling was consistent every morning and the volume was increasing. It's a whole wheat starter with tap water that lives in 20C temps. Perhaps there is quite a bit of wild yeast in the starter and that's why they're rising so well? I really don't know.

I am surprised myself at how well this is working! :? But of course it's great! Tastes very yummy too.

Next, I want to try a 100% spelt loaf. I intend to sieve it becaues I have read up on how spelt is milled in Germany, according to norm. There is a spelt flour of what's called "type 630" (scroll down to Dinkelmehl) that is equivalent to strong white wheat flour over there. I don't think this type of flour is available in Canada. All I can find here is whole grain spelt.  So I wonder if sieving the spelt to remove some of the bran will leave me with a better candidate flour for a 100% spelt loaf. Has anyone tried that?

goat
cass 2008 April 21
[quote=celia]
I hope one day my kids will be saying the same sorts of things about me (as opposed to "my mother was insane, the house was always full of flour..")  :D

Cheers, Celia
[/quote]

Somehow Celia,
I think it's most likely going to be a little from column A, a little from column B. It's certainly the way I remember my own parents...

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