Author Topic: window pane test - how/when to perform?  (Read 3069 times)

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Offline ratana

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window pane test - how/when to perform?
« on: January 30, 2007, 06:03:18 PM »
Hello, I am a bit confused about the windowpane test, either that, or I'm just doing things plain wrong, right now.  I am attempting to prepare a dough similar to Di Fara style, 3 cups 00 flour and 1 cup All Trumps.  after about 2 minutes of mixing in my kitchenaid mixer, I let it sit for about 20 minutes.  Then I slowly add the rest of the flour and maybe a bit of water if it seems like all the dough is clumping on the hook.  After another 5 minutes, I tried to perform a window pane test. I broke off a small piece of dough and tried to stretch it between my fingers.  it pretty much shredded.  Does this mean I have kneaded the dough too much? Or not enough?  I would greatly appreciate any advice as far as how and when to preform this test.. can anyone help? I know there are a lot of variables involved when it comes to making dough, but any a general advice would be helpful.  thanks,

Adam


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: window pane test - how/when to perform?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2007, 06:49:49 PM »
ratana,

When I started making pizza dough, I routinely performed the windowpane, or "gluten window", test on the dough. It was a technique that culinary notables such as Jeffrey Steingarten, Peter Reinhart and Alton Brown advocated, so I thought I was in good company. Subsequently, I stopped using the windowpane test after reading the writings on this subject by Tom Lehmann, of the American Institute of Baking and an acknowledged authority on pizza dough. He advocated against the windowpane test, but recommended a simpler test, as described here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg28694.html#msg28694 (Reply 440).

There is nothing particularly wrong with using the windowpane test but it is worth keeping in mind that there doesn't have to be a perfect window and, in fact, if you strive for a perfect window, you may end up with an overworked dough when what you really want to be trying to get is a slightly underkneaded dough. As noted in the above post, I also discovered that with some flours, such as 00 flour, or flours containing cornmeal or other grainy flours, and especially whole wheat flour, it is hard to get a good windowpane.

Peter


Offline varasano

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Re: window pane test - how/when to perform?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2007, 07:20:41 PM »
I talk about windowpaning on my site, but if you read through carefully, I say it is something you should know how to do as you grow as a baker, but not something that you need to do to make the pizza. In any case, if you wait 20 minutes after mixing, the ability to windowpane will be much, much better than a test right off the hook.

Jeff

Offline ratana

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Re: window pane test - how/when to perform?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2007, 12:07:38 AM »
Thank you for the responses.  Based on the "test" suggested in the above thread, it seems that by the time you get to do the test (after it has been cooled for 24 hours), it may be too late to correct it?  Or is the whole purpose to learn, and refine the technique on the _next_ batch?

Jeff, I was blown away when I first encountered your page via a post from sliceny.com a few months ago, want to say that I am very inspired, I share your extreme passion and dedication for pizza!  (Though I'm just getting started now when it comes to making it, versus eating it!)  I just carefully re-read your section on mixing the dough.  I did get much better results right away when I started doing a rest period like you suggested (I have only been making pizza for 3 days total!).  But I must have missed the window-pane piece until just now.  When you suggest trying to wait 20 minutes after mixing, is it too late at this point to fix it? or could one just then mix for a few more minutes (if it fails the test) and then wait, and try again?  Again, is the purpose to learn what to do better _next_ time or, is there an opportunity to repair the current batch ?  I am assuming based on your page that it is the former, but maybe I have some wishful thinking going on..

I would apologize for the "newbie" nature of this question, but, this is the newbie forum :)  Thank you for your time and responses guys, I have seen both of your posts in many other topics on here so I know I am getting quality responses!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2007, 12:19:26 AM by ratana »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: window pane test - how/when to perform?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2007, 09:30:59 AM »
ratana,

Jeff can correct me if I am wrong but I believe that windowpaning has greater significance for him at the later stages of his dough management, as noted by the photo at his site showing the windowpaning effect at the time of working the dough. That is consistent with Tom Lehmann’s discussion of the windowpaning effect. I also agree with Jeff that it is hard, and maybe too late, to do much with a dough that is not of the best quality coming out of the mixer. The biochemical gluten development will help but it is unlikely to overcome all of the physical shortcomings of the dough.

Jeff has an advantage over those of us who use KitchenAid mixers because he uses a DLX machine which, according to those who have owned both types of machines, apparently does a better job with preparing the dough than a KitchenAid mixer. I don’t view the KitchenAid mixer as being particularly good at making pizza dough, although the models with the spiral hook seem to be an improvement over the units with the C-hook, which is what my KitchenAid machine uses. Because of what I believe to be mediocre performance of my KitchenAid mixer (as compared with better machines), I recently re-engineered the dough making processes of that machine by using sifted flour and the whisk and flat paddle attachments, as well as the C-hook (if necessary). I described several experiments along these lines at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.msg33251.html#msg33251. Since adopting the measures described in that thread, my dough quality has improved significantly, so much so that I no longer use the processes I formerly used with my KitchenAid machine.

Peter

Offline varasano

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Re: window pane test - how/when to perform?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2007, 05:27:43 AM »
Hey,

Let me clarify:

"Yes, this dough is so thin, you can read right through it. This is what is meant by 'windowpaning'. You never actually stretch it this thin when making a pie. But I just want you to see what is achievable. In fact, you can make an excellent pie without getting it this well kneaded. But you should know how to do this as part of your overall repertoire." - Me

What I mean here is that there are plenty of excellent pizza recipes that would never ever pass the window pane test. I don't run this test on my dough anymore and many of my doughs would fail if I did. But as part of your training as a baker, you should know this is out there and know the range of what is possible for the materials you are working with. It's like learning scales as a musician. You don't play scales in concert, but if you ask most musicians you'd find they played a lot of scales at some point. One easy way to get a dough to pass a windowpane is to mix the dough in a wet dough/battery state after autolyse, at a super high speed for a short time, maybe 3 minutes. Add the rest of the flour to dry out only in the last 1 minute. That's it. Wait 20 minutes. It should windowpane well. Now that's not what I do for my dough, but knowing that tells me something.

Jeff