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Autolyse is a technique devised by Prof. Raymond Calvel, an expert and writer on French bread, for use in improving the qualities (flavor, color and texture) of bread. In its most basic incarnation it involves combining flour and water and letting them rest for a period of 20 minutes or more after mixing. This allows for better absorption of the water by the flour (hydration). Occasionally yeast (commercial or a starter) is also added to the flour and water, although in the purest technical sense they are added later in the kneading process. Then the salt (as well as any oil called for in the dough recipe) is added and kneaded into the dough.
Over the years, the term autolyse has come to be used by many bakers as a more or less generic term for a period of rest to which a dough is subjected. The period of rest can vary in duration, from a few minutes to over a half hour, and it can take place shortly after the dough kneading process begins, somewhere in the middle of the entire kneading process, or at the end, or some combination of these. Although originally intended for use in breadmaking, the autolyse and similar forms of rest periods can also be used in pizza dough making, as some of the members at this forum have demonstrated. Several members have incorporated rest periods in many of their dough recipes, and many members are currently experimenting with the use of autolyse and other forms of rest periods in order to determine where such rest periods are most beneficial.
If you are interested in learning more about autolyse and its use, as well as other forms of rest periods, you may wish to do a site search on this site on "autolyse" or "Calvel", which should lead you to many postings on the subject.