I recently tried out and took interest in the "slap and fold" method when I made the hamburger bun recipe suggested by Craig (who todl me he uses the kneading approach from time to time, especially with wet doughs):
The dough - http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/2008/03/sweetdough.html
A video showing the method - http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough.html
I had fun with it and liked the buns and ended up buying the book "Dough" by Bertinet. He typically suggests hydration levels of about 70% and teaches you to use this method. I have made a few breads and breadsticks using his recipe and approach and have been very impressed.
I decided to give it a try with pizza dough - Neapolitan dough at 62% hydration. 62% is not very high but the rated absorption for Caputo is pretty low - I think about 57 - 59%. So, it is a sticky dough but not at all outrageous.
I really, really liked it and, aside from a few bread doughs, have used it for 2 successive pizza dough batches. Each time, I got the same results:
- a nice airy crumb. A lot of air is captured with all the folding
- a very nice balance of extensibility and elasticity
- an efficient mix. It is all over in 10 -12 minutes and the dough goes to sleep for its bulk ferment with a nice smooth, well developed dough ball.
- little waste. I have found my residue waste to be right at about 2%. In my mixer, it is about 1% so a bit more dough gets lost in the cosmos. Although stretch and fold (rather than the constant folding in this method) can probably get similar results, you have to hang around longer. Wait however long you wait (10 or 20 minutes), stretch and fold, do it again, maybe do it again. And, you can end up adding water to manage the stickiness (or flour I guess).
- gets some energy out.
Watch the video if you have a few. You get your hands and the counter totally sticky and there is no bench flour. When you are done, the counter is almost completely clean and, although you have to wash some bits off your hands, there is little there either. The dough just gets firmer and less sticky over the few minutes and ends up just a bit tacky.
I did find with the pizza dough that I ended up doing some simple kneading the last minute or so. The dough was too firmed up and not slack enough to really stretch out - it was ready.
If you used this method, tell me if your impressions are similar or different. If you have not used it - Try it!