Omid is there a quantitative time that you use for effectivity hydration dough? Would autolysing with flour and water for say...4-5 hours be considered effectively hydrating the dough?
Dear Jackie Tran, you asked, “Omid is there a quantitative time that you use for effectivity hydration dough?”
As a prefatory remark, the chief objective of “effective hydration” (sometimes I like to refer to it as “hylozoic hydration”), not disjunct from quantity of hydration, is to make flour fluid enough
(notice the adverb "enough") in order to be animated. As I have used the following analogy before, your hair (cf. flour) would not be responsive enough to shampoo (cf. culture/yeast) if it is not hydrated or fluid enough. Just as we are not able to consume hard, raw pinto beans, I hypothesize, in light of my experiments, that the fermentative micro-organisms within dough tend not to uniformly ferment the dough if it is not effectively hydrated. Un-hydrated flour is of no use to bacteria and/or fungi; the more fluid the particles of flour are the more fluently the micro-organisms can ferment the dough. So, I use this peculiar method of hydration in order to copiously exploit (explicāre
, “to bring out the best”) the flour.
In my estimation, which could be erroneous, the timing—not exclusive of temperature—is indispensably critical in carrying out effective hydration, which I view as a musical overture to the opera of fermentation! “Overture” because it significantly sets the mood for the opera to follow. A poor overture can jeopardize a good opera! In regard to timing effective hydration, one should not just haphazardly pick an amount of time, such as 20 minutes or else. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts in this thread, according to Aristotle such natural processes, e.g. hydration, are “rational” (derived from ratiō
, "ratio" or "proportion"), meaning that one needs to proportionately ratio-nalize
time, temperature, and portions of flour and water in relation to one another. With that in mind, the amount of time depends on the following factors:
1. Strength of flour (stronger flour needs more time),
2. Quantity of water (lesser quantity of water requires more time),
3. Absorbency rate of flour (less absorbent flour needs more time),
4. Temperature of water-flour mixture in relation to ambient temperature (enzymatic reactions need proper temperatures to be activated and maintained),
5. Native moisture of dry flour,
6. The rate at which the starch content of flour is enzymatically converted to sugars,
7. The rate at which the protein content of flour is enzymatically restructured as gluten strands, and
While keeping the above factors in periphery of your mind, employ your senses of sight
, and touch
as a trustworthy implement to alarm you as to when enough is enough. There is really no set time. When the water-flour mixture is inspired (īnspīrāre
, “to breathe in”) enough, it is no longer a mere mélange of water and flour, but quasi-pasta
which immanently percolates an implicit pasta-esque aroma, color, and corporeal constitution—that can be learned mainly by repeated trials. Also, make sure to watch the temperature!
If you add a factor to one side of a mathematical equation, then the other side of the equation will suffer if you do not add a counterbalancing factor to it. Likewise, effectively hydrated dough requires less kneading afterwards, for the pasta-esque dough has already generated amino acids or gluten strands that can be over-fortified by superfluous kneading, which can oxidize dough beyond necessity. Therefore, effective hydration not only contributes to the flour being more responsive to cohesive fermentation, but also it reduces oxidation and its unpleasant impacts on dough by reducing the kneading time.