Author Topic: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?  (Read 1850 times)

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Offline pnj

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Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« on: August 29, 2007, 07:36:56 PM »
I'm back on the pizza train. Or off the pizza wagon...:)

I've been using a bread machine in the past with fine results but I'd like to start mixing by hand to mix things up a bit...

I have never done the Autolyse technique and thought I'd give it a shot with this next batch.

Any reason why I shouldn't do this? I'm using a basic dough recipe (close the the one on this site for NY style) I don't have a scale so I can't get as technical as many of you do.

Thoughts/suggestions?

thanks


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2007, 08:22:29 PM »
pnj,

There is no reason at all for not trying the autolyse method. In fact, if you plan to use a high-protein, high-gluten flour, such as the All Trumps or KASL, you may have to use autolyse or similar rest periods. I would also use a high hydration to make the hand kneading easier. I personally would use 63%.

Peter

Offline pnj

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 08:42:49 PM »
I'm using AP bread flour, I think. I keep my flour in a plastic tub and forget what type of flour it is, exactly. I do have some KA whole wheat though.

How do I figure out my hydration percentage?

Also, about high gluten flour. I see recipes that say to add gluten and some that warn against over kneeding as kneeding can cause more gluten. So what's the deal? Is lots of gluten good or bad?

Thanks.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 09:11:23 PM »
pnj,

If you are using all-purpose flour, it should be even easier to hand knead than stronger flours. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't use the autolyse method. However, I wouldn't use the whole wheat flour if you intend to hand knead. Your bread machine will do a much better job.

Some people use vital wheat gluten to increase the protein content of a particular flour. It will produce a somewhat chewier crust with a bit more color. But adding vital wheat gluten to a given flour to increase its protein level to the protein level of a stronger flour will not yield a flour that is identical to the stronger flour. For example, adding vital wheat gluten to the King Arthur all-purpose flour to equal the protein content of the King Arthur bread flour will not be identical to the King Arthur bread flour. Not everyone is an advocate of using vital wheat gluten. However, some pizza operators use it to supplement weaker flours, especially outside of the U.S., where stronger flours are not always readily available to bakers.

Hydration is calculated by dividing the weight of water by the weight of flour. It is stated as a percent. If you will be using volume measurements, it will be harder to achieve a specified hydration (e.g., 63%) because of the general unreliability of volume measurements of flour and water. To get the precise hydration number, you would have to use a scale. BTW, if you will be using all-purpose flour, I would use a hydration of around 60%, which is a more typical absorption rate for that flour.

If you'd like to see some photos of a pizza made using a hand kneaded high-gluten flour, see http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2175.msg20385.html#msg20385 (Reply 39). I had forgotten the hydration I used, but it was 64.1%, not 63% as I previously mentioned. 

Peter

Offline pnj

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 09:22:21 PM »
Thanks for the link.

I made some dough lastnight and used 1 cup of the whole wheat. I mixed it by hand and didn't have any trouble. Allthough without a scale I don't know what the percentages would be..

I'll be cooking it up soon though.:)

Offline sround

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2007, 05:46:55 PM »
pnj,

I've been making my own pies for years now and I (like everyone here) have experimented with just about every variable, and I've come to believe...wait for it...it just doesn't matter that much.

I use my own starters -- both Cam Hill and Ishia Il (purchased from Ed Wood), and either
White Lily or Golden Harvest flour.
I have always kneaded by hand, and even though I've read loads of claims you "have to" knead
the dough for X minutes, autolyse for X minutes...blah, blah, blah, the only variable that
IMHO really matters is the fermentation period. 

I prefer at least 72 hours time in the frig!  Let the little beasties (yeast and bacteria) do all their wonderful work, then you reap the benefit!   


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2007, 06:42:48 PM »
sround,

Autolyse as a concept is independent of the manner of mixing and kneading although no doubt some forms of mixing/kneading will do a better job of hydrating the flour than others. I am talking here of the classic autolyse process (flour and water only), not one in which yeast (commercial or natural) has been activated by incorporating it in with the rest of the ingredients. Autolyse used by pnj with a hand kneaded dough should have the same effect as any other kneading method, including a reduced overall kneading time, which should manifest itself in a dough that is not over oxidized and retains the carotenoid pigments. That is why a No-Knead dough, with no kneading, will yield a nice yellow color in the finished crumb. Since professional bakers don't always agree on the optimum autolyse time, it stands to reason that home pizza dough makers will use variable autolyse periods also. I agree with you that the fermentation time is very important, but I wouldn't dismiss the benefits of autolyse and knead times. In fact, when using autolyse to reduct the total knead time, the temptation to overknead is reduced. For pizza dough, it is better for the dough to be slightly underkneaded.

Peter

Offline Randy

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2007, 07:37:59 PM »
Sround consider using a stronger flour than WhiteLily.  I use WhiteLily for biscuits, cakes, and piecrust but not for pizza.  Using WhiteLily I can see why you experienced little difference since the gluten level you can develop is so very low.  Consider a stronger flour like unbleached KABF.

Randy

Offline sround

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Re: Is there any reason to Autolyse if I'm mixing by hand?
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2007, 12:41:56 PM »
Peter and Randy,  thanks for your replies and inputs. 
I got my wires crossed in that last post; I use G.M. Harvest King -- recommended to me by
by the Great Varasano himself.   I have used White Lily for Bread (high gluten) in the past.
I liked it as it seemed to knead together very easily, and it also produced a crisp and chewy
crust.  I've ordered a couple of the Deni 2100 ovens, and I intend to modify them and probably
use a thermo-switch with them.  My old propane oven can't get past 500, and I'm thinking
the high heat produces flavor I simply can't get right now with my old oven.   :chef: