Experiments with Laminating Lean Dough

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Not sure where this lamination process originated but it certainly got popular from Fullproof baking and referenced to Instagrammer @autumnkitchen. I’d really like to know the origin (maybe from pastry making?). Anyway, I’ve tried this several times and it hasn’t bought me much. ONE thing I have noticed is that I’ve struggled getting dough that would even laminate, it was too soft and tore easily, didn’t hold together. Over the course of several months I’ve learned that my problem has always been gluten development. If I develop, through mixing, a dough with awesome gluten, the kind I see on everyone else’s photos, videos etc. (like silly putty, or latex!) I’m going to have good crumb, regardless of how many times I stretch and fold, laminate, slap on the table etc. I could be wrong, I’m not the serial methodical experimentor that you, or others are, but gluten development has long been elusive to me. … and I think I’ve finally found that important link to good looking bread (shape and crumb). Now if I can just get the fermentation correct…
on a side note I’ve also noticed (again anecdotal, not experimental) that I get much better gluten if I dissolve my salt in water first…and add after autolyse…as per Chad’s instructions in Tartine. Some Italians do this too for pizza dough.

Melissa, your experiment lacked a control, a loaf in which you did not laminate the dough (maybe just mixed with a stand mixer). Unless I’m misreading your article, you are comparing lamination with lamination. Unless you show me a side-by-side comparison with a loaf which wasn’t laminated, how can you say it made any difference at all???

I’m an enthusiastic but lazy baker. I just mix the sourdough in my Kitchenaid mixer and put it in a plastic bin for autolysis. I try to pay attention to how the autolyzing process is going so the bread texture is what I’m going for. I form the loaves with minimal kneading, the gluten seems to be well developed just from the mixer.

That’s good enough for me, but maybe I’m missing something.

@muchohucho I’m curious about the origin as well. Yes, I saw AutumnKitchen doing it about a year+ ago, and I’m not sure where she devised the technique from. I don’t always laminate, but I like to have it as an option. Gluten development is a complicated subject :slight_smile: It can happen through time alone, early interventions, continuous manipulations…a lot is user preference imo.

@ashley4syth I hear you. My ideal experiment would have had four doughs, but I can’t bake four loaves at the same time in my oven and a crucial element to the experiment was to not stagger the baking.

My question was whether laminating early vs late yields a better loaf. I think my experiment design worked for that question.

With a giant oven, I would have asked: Does laminating yield a better loaf and when should you laminate? I’d have a control loaf of no lamination, an early lamination loaf, a middle lamination loaf, and a late lamination loaf.

Let me know if this makes sense or if I’m missing something :slight_smile:

Laminating develops gluten which increases extensibility, not elasticity.

I agree that laminating develops gluten, but I think this involves increasing both elasticity and extensibility. The act of stretching the dough to the extreme definitely pushes the dough’s extensibility, but as the thin dough is folded up, there is a lot of surface area being layered, more crosslinks of glutenin and gliadin happening, and the dough tightens up quite a bit. I should perhaps edit the blog post to add this. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts and others’ opinions too.

Agreed. I am also interested in seeing the comparison between no lamination and with lamination. I have done it once before based on the procedure provided by Fullproofbaking. The result was not as big and irregular holes as here or shown at Fullproofbaking but the crust was much more open than my usual sourdough lean bread. I will bake next week with the lamination again to see if the result is consistent with my first one.

I like this experiment Melissa. I need to make more dough for 1 or 2 loaves so I can try it more. Credit for this technique I believe should go to @ceorbread who first did this years ago. You can find it on his Instagram feed @muchohucho .

I am assuming this type of development including Rubaud is only for lean dough?

Will this type of development work with a sticky rye dough? I watched a youtube on Rubaud mixing (never heard of). With the rye I opted not to try wet hands and adding more water because it will get even more sticky. Of course I could I leave out a portion of water from the recipe and use that. When I make my rye (Eric’s @69% hydration) I still wind up adding 70g or so of flour to handle the dough. Last time I spared all the extra flour and tried using oil on the work surface which worked but don’t feel I had sufficient development.

@ggxie Cool, i look forward to seeing/hearing about the results. Interesting that the difference you saw was also oven spring/bloom.

@jimchall Thanks for sharing that info! I do see on his feed some beautiful dough lamination from a while back. I’m guessing there’s multiple bakers discovering techniques independently. I love the phrase “it’s Railroad Time” to refer to conditions all being in place for many people to come up with the same idea. I’m guessing the open-crumb focus of bakers today is a big driver of innovation and inspiration.

@DennisM If a dough has more than 75% whole grain rye flour, I don’t mess with it after mixing, as i don’t find it beneficial. Under that amount, depending on hydration, I would do stretching and folding, coil folding or the dough in both hands folding you can see in Eric’s whole spelt video. Also scooping and folding with a stiff spatula works great too. I just laminated a 20% whole grain rye, 30% whole grain sprouted hard red, 50% bread flour dough and it was manageable… I’m not sure how high I could push that though.

Minute 7:00 in the first video

I agree completely Melissa! I don’t know the term It’s Railroad Time, but it’s perfect.

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Nice breads, Melissa! And nice experiment, thanks. I happened to be prepping two batches of 100% whole grain, home-milled (on the Mockmill) organic breads on the evening of reading your excellent post so I decided to add your lamination method (great video instruction on that) to one of the batches and not the other since I consider my methods for these loaves to be still a work-in-progress. What I found was that the laminated loaves were about 1/8" taller than the ones without lamination. So no huge change, but definitely welcome progress, so I’ll try more work with this lamination technique, maybe earlier in the process next time.

My methods are pretty much straight out of the C.Robertson Tartine books since that what I learned from. For this experiment, I did 5 stretch-and-fold sets on the un-laminated breads (the two loaves behind the 227 label in the photo below), and substituted the lamination for stretch-and-fold #4 on the loaves with the lamination (the two loaves behind the “228 Laminated”) label. The two loaves in front, that is, one from each batch, were baked at the same time, followed by the baking of the two loaves at the rear. Thanks again for your post.

These loaves:
All organic, 100% whole grain Mockmilled just prior to mixing with water and starter:

71.0% HRSWheat
12.5% Spelt
12.5% Kamut
4.0% Rye
2.5% Utah salt
87.0% water at 76 degrees F
10.0% starter

The grains were from Montana Flour & Grain.

All recent refreshes of the starter were also done with Mockmilled HRSW: half water, half flour.

Thanks Jim, if anyone would know it’d be you! Keeping one eye on the pulse of the bread world one Instagram photo after the other!

@zielinski.mark That bread formula sounds great - the wheat combos and ratios. Great looking outcome too.
Thanks for doing and sharing your experiment and the photos. I think 1/8 inch is worth the effort if your counter/table space is available lol, and earlier lamination might be 1/4 inch :crossed_fingers::slight_smile:

Is it really just gluten? I would say oxygen is also a factor. With laminating you’re bringing a lot of oxygen into the dough, which is a great stimulation for the yeast. That might be one of the reasons for the fluffy crumb.

I’m not all that knowledgeable about yeast cell respiration (aerobic…anaerobic…) but I’ll trust you on that :slight_smile: and definitely air is being introduced in those layers when you fold up the laminated dough.

@Sebastian I had an interesting conversation with my husband, a homebrewer, yesterday. He was telling me about a mini controversy in the homebrewing world around the concept of Hot Side Aeration. I won’t go into detail on that as I mostly grasped onto what was relevant to bread. And that is:
Yeast don’t start fermentation until oxygen is consumed. In the presence of oxygen, yeast replicate - an aerobic phase.
My husband, for example, has a spinning/automatic stirring thing to multiply the yeast population in his beer starter before it gets added to the wort aka unfermented sugar mixture that becomes beer. The yeast starter liquid swirls around in a beaker and that adds oxygen.
So, I now see what you’re saying / think it stands to reason, that lamination early on might boost the yeast population.
Of course, beer and bread are different. Dough has oxygen in it even without lamination, whereas beer has a pretty defined transition period from aerobic to anaerobic respiration. But lamination adds a lot of oxygen…Rubaud mixing too, I imagine.

Hi Melissa. Thank you so much for checking again. Sound quite interesting and reasonable.

Hi Melissa,
Could you pls clarify this for me?

  1. Am I correct on these quants for the Round One recipe ?
    300 g bread f
    100 g whole spelt f
    80 g starter
    How much water?

340g water

If you scroll down quite a bit, you’ll see a traditional printable recipe in this blog post.