Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bread Basket Pt.2 Kneading

This is the first of a few tests involving kneading dough. For this test I made 4 identical doughs, all of them comprised of 100g bread flour, 60g of water, 1g yeast, 2g salt. The first, I stirred with a spoon and then worked with my hands until it just came together; a no knead loaf. The second was mixed and then kneaded for 3 minutes; I did not think that I reached full gluten development, but I stopped anyway. The third, I kneaded for 7 minutes, where I thought full gluten development was. The final loaf was kneaded for 20 minutes, hopefully soundly in the realm of overdeveloped. Here are all of them waiting to start fermenting.
You can see how they all have different textures. The no knead is a shaggy mass compared the the super tight 20 minute dough. The 3 and 7 minute doughs are very similar, but I was able to pull the smoothest ball shape out of the 7 minute dough. These sat out for 5 hours. Here is what they looked like after that.
This is where things start getting weird. At this point there is no noticeable difference between the 0, 3, and, 7 minute doughs. Only the 20 minute dough is quite different, it was having trouble rising compared to the others. I took each of these doughs, gently folded them over and then shaped them into balls. I didn't work them at all, only manipulating them enough to fold over once and then shape the ball. Again, the 0, 3, and 7, minute balls all pulled the same and looked the same. The 20 minute dough was a little more difficult to work with and made a tighter, smaller ball.
The only one that is a little smaller than the others is the 20 minute dough, the other three are practically identical.
I let these sit in my oven, which was off, with a pot of warm water in the bottom to warm the air to around 98F and provide some humidity. They rose in this shape for 2 hours, doubling in size over that time. Just before cooking I cut a slit into each one, it looked like this.
I baked them all at 435F for 20 minutes. When I put any loaf into the oven I place a few large ice cubs into the racks below the bread(they drip until they get small enough to fall through, and then they hit the bottom of the oven and turn to steam, and scare your roommate if he doesn't know what is in the oven), which is sitting on the top most rack. I also place a sauté pan, which I preheat on the stove top until it is wicked hot, into the bottom of the oven and throw some water on it, and then immediately close the door. This, along with the dripping ice, creates steam in the oven for the first 10 minutes of baking. After this, the oven dries out and they bake another 10 minutes.
When they come out they look like this.
From left to right, no knead, 3 min, 7 min, and 20 minutes of kneading.
The results were three pretty good loafs and one not so good one. The over-kneaded dough browned faster than the other three, more free protein or simple sugars? I'm not sure why that happened. The winner was the no knead. It rose the most, slightly more than the 3 and 7 minute doughs. It seems to me that 5 hours of sitting at room temperature develops all the gluten you could want in a loaf of bread and more kneading results in denser, heavier, and browner breads.
This is what the crumb looked like.
Clockwise from the bottom left: no knead, 3, 7, and 20 minute kneading.
All but the 20 minute dough produced and awesome crust, check it out:
Crusty, but not too thick!

I need to do some more trials, but basically what I used to know about gluten and kneading seems to be wrong. I'll add to the basket soon.



Julie said...

Very interesting - so kneading speeds up the process of rising? Now I'm hungry for fresh warm crusty bread:)

Adam Starowicz said...

As far as I can tell... if you ferment a dough with a ratio of water to flour of 3 to 5 for at least 5 hours, any kneading done at the beginning impedes rising. You need gluten to get a good rise, but overworking the dough prevents it from rising. The bread I did not knead rose the most. The more I kneaded the less they rose.

Post a Comment