Author Topic: Two methods for hand mixing dough, The Fountain Method & The Bowl Method  (Read 173 times)

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Offline mkevenson

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I found this interesting, perhaps you will too.
From the book, The Village Baker
published in Berkely, Ca by Ten Speed Press 1993
The Village Baker
 <blockquote> Hand Kneading or Mixing In bread making, where technique counts for so much, even the elementary step of combining the basic ingredients may be taken in different ways. At home, because a baker is actually kneading the bread on a worktable, the activity is referred to as kneading; in the village bakery, because most bakers use mixers, they usually refer to the process as mixing, even though the mixing arm is in fact kneading the dough. Furthermore, professional bakers because they use mixers to produce large batches rarely hand mix any bread dough. The exceptions might be a small batch of experimental or specialty bread or a small batch of starter or levain. Nevertheless, the two main methods of hand kneading -- the fountain method and the bowl method are techniques that both the home baker and the village baker should have in their repertoire. The Fountain Method La fontaine For the fountain (or well) method, the flour is placed in a mound in the middle of a worktable, and a well to contain the mixing liquid is made in the middle of the flour, If a starter is used it is broken up, placed into the middle of the fountain, diluted with a little of the water, then mixed with a little of the surrounding flour to make a paste. If yeast is used, the yeast and water mixture is first placed in the middle of the fountain and the rest of the water added.
Gradually the baker, using two or three fingers, swirls the liquid around the perimeter of the fountain, picking up flour to make a thick paste. At this point, while there is still about half of the flour left around the edges of the fountain, the baker uses sweeping motions of the hand to whip up the dough. Keeping one hand clean helps the baker to keep the operation tidy and also helps in containing the walls of the fountain.
The rapid motion of whipping the dough develops the gluten. The more the dough is whipped at this stage, the better the gluten will be developed and the dough will need less actual kneading when the rest of the flour is incorporated.
After the mixture has been developed in this stage, it becomes so elastic that it can be stretched like taffy from the middle of the fountain. Then more of the flour can be slowly brought in until an actual bread dough is attained.
The hands and bench are then cleaned with a plastic dough scraper or the back of the blade of a small knife and a little of the remaining flour. Finally, the dough can be kneaded on the worktable in the traditional manner of turning, folding, and pushing with the heel of the hand. The Bowl Method I developed this method myself as an alternative to the fountain method. It achieves the same results and is much easier and tidier for beginning bakers.
When the bowl method is used, the flour is gradually added to the liquid in a medium-sized bowl. If a starter is used, it is diluted in some of the water, then the rest of the water is added to the bowl. The baker starts adding flour to the liquid, a handful at a time, while mixing with a curved plastic dough scraper. (A wooden spoon can be used, but the large surface of the dough scraper helps to control a larger amount of the dough, especially in the batter stage.)
When half of the flour has been added, the baker can start using wide, sweeping motions of the arm to whip the dough (imagine you are pulling taffy). When the batterlike dough is picked up with the dough scraper and beaten in a circular motion, back onto itself, the gluten in the flour is developed. (Keep one hand free of dough.)
After about ten minutes of mixing, the batterlike dough will become noticeably elastic and the dough strands that are pulled out of the bowl will want to spring back like taffy. It is hard to overdo this action in hand mixing. Usually the baker's arm will become tired before the dough becomes overmixed.
After the dough has been developed in the batter stage, more flour can be added gradually until all but about a cup is incorporated. Use this remaining flour to coat the worktable and to finish off the kneading.
The dough is scraped from the bowl and onto the worktable. The hands and bowl are then cleaned with the plastic dough scraper and some of the remaining flour and the dough is kneaded on the worktable in the traditional manner.
Parmentier described the fountain method over two hundred years ago so we know it has probably been around for a long, long time. When village bakers mixed bread by hand in a rectangular wooden trough [madia] they used to add the flour first. Then they would make a fountain in the flour, at one end of the mixing trough, in which to pour some of the mixing water and to dilute their levain (natural wild yeast). The rest of the water was added, and the baker started the laborious practice of incorporating the flour and water, then hand kneading it. (Much of the work was done with the legs, back and, finally, by the arms, in lifting out masses of dough and throwing it back onto the dough still left in the trough.) Hand kneading in the mixing trough was backbreaking work but, thanks to the mechanical mixer, no village baker needs to do it today…</blockquote>
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