Nice looking pies Larry!
As a follow up to exchanges with Peter on hydration of dough, I wanted to post my results. In this experiment I compared an effectively hydrated (EH) dough (ie extended autolyse with flour and water) against a straight mixed (SM) dough.
For this test, I used 100% HG flour with a 72% hydration, 10% starter, 2.3% salt.
For the EH dough, I premixed the water (minus 10 gm to dissolve salt in later) with the flour, covered and allow the mixture to sit for 6 hours). After the 6 hour extended autolyse, I dissolved the salt in 10gm of water, and mixed the salt water 10% starter with the EH dough. It took about 4 minutes of hand mixing to fully integrate both the salt solution and starter into the EH dough. This EH dough was allowed to rest for 15m before kneading began.
For the SM dough, I dissolved the salt in all of the water, then stirred in the starter, and then quickly added the flour and handmixed to an even mixture. The SM mixture was covered and allowed to rest for 25m before kneading began.
After their rest periods, both doughs received the same hand kneading regimen, along with rest periods, and any stretch and folds deamed necessary.
Upon initial handling of the dough, I was surprise to find that both doughs felt very similar. I was expecting the EH dough to be much more fluid or feel as if it had a higher hydration than the SM. It was only marginally softer in feel.
Upon balling the 2 doughs during the kneading process, I did note once again that the EH dough was stronger in that the dough was not breaking under pressure to the extent that the SM dough was. See pic below.
By the end of the kneading, resting, and folding, I did not that the SM dough did feel a bit tougher/drier/stronger/stiffer BUT that the gluten structure was still weaker than the EH dough. I allowed both doughs to rest an additional 15m before doing the final balling. In the proofing chamber both doughs looked identical. Both doughs were allowed to proof ferment until they were baked around 5pm.
When I went to assess the doughs prior to baking, the EH dough indeed did show a higher rise/expansion when allowed to free rise without the assitance of side wall as would be the case if they were proofed in containers.
When I went to open the doughs, the SM dough was more extensible and opened much easier showing it's weaker gluten matrix compared to the EH dough.
Pic 1 shows the EF dough after 5m kneading, 15m rest, and 1min of folding.
Pic 2 shows the SM dough after the same treatment. Notice the difference in gluten strength
Pic 3 both doughs balled and ready for proofing.