Gluten Development for Artisan Bread

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Wonderful article Melissa. I love your mixed technique, I had not seen that anywhere before.

Thanks for the videos. It is really informative. Maybe I can spruce up my technique a bit. :man_farmer:

These are so helpful, I am glad to have these references in my crafting of what I truly have enjoyed creating. Thankful I am

Thank you for these videos. All are helpful -and also the emphasis on time to develop the gluten with less yeast. As the videos show, there is no tearing of the dough. I understand that avoiding any tearing of the dough is essential. However, I don’t quite get the slap method, in that hitting the board hard with the dough seems to have no point. What does seem effective with this method is the stretch and fold that comes with the slap.

Really helpful, thanks

Thank you, Melissa, for consisely laying out all the options, in video form, for gluten development. I’ve watched bits and pieces elsewhere, but this all-in-one post is an amazing “save” for me. Please continue educating us beginners, as watching is a better tutorial than reading.

This is a great site! I used LIVE sourdough starter from Breadtopia and have made outstanding sourdough Boules. I’ve found the “gentle coil stretch and fold” technique to be very easy and produce better results than “classic” stretch and fold. Your comment about enzymes being released that would consume the gluten makes sense for handling the dough gently after bulk fermentation. – Paul in Eugene, OR

I’m so glad the videos and write-up are helpful.

I agree @Sandi that a video is worth a thousand (or more) words. I wouldn’t have grasped challah braiding or pretzel shaping if not for videos.

@rfus The purpose of the violence of the slap and fold technique kinda escapes me too, unless it’s used to incorporate ingredients – building gluten strength as part of mixing. When I’m struggling to get butter into a dough by hand for example, this method along with fraisage (smearing) aren’t gentle but they get the job done.

If someone has more insight into how the impact of slapping the dough might improve the dough strength, I would love to hear it.

Your videos were really well done and illustrated how the different methods are done using your hands which is more helpful and in real time. I will try them myself this week.

Fantastic post! Educating and simple - the best combo!

The million dollar question is how do I know when to stop - first with working the dough via any of the above mentioned technics, then when it is the right time to start pre shaping and shaping, and finally when to get it into the oven.

I wonder if there is any better way than finger test? I had a strong sense I’m over proofing, but after reading this post I’m thinking maybe I’m actually under.

Any wisdom about timing (maybe show a video that marks the nature of when it is right to let the dough rest, the pre shape and shape, and to get into the oven :slight_smile:

Great post and videos! Can you tell us what the hydration level is for the dough you were demonstrating? I can never get mine to look that smooth.

Timing is the biggest mystery, I agree! And gluten development degasses the dough and makes it a little bit harder to see how much expansion there has been – compared to a no knead recipe or using an aliquot jar. Also when in the bulk fermentation you do the gluten development can impact what the dough looks like when it’s ready for the next step.

I recommend getting a sense of timing through trial and error, and using the senses of sight, touch and hearing (crackles). I guess I’m mostly speaking about the bulk fermentation…my final proofing is fairly predictable. I don’t let the dough blow up all that much. Most of the recipes on the Breadtopia blog include a photo gallery at the end that shows “before and after” of the bulk fermentation and the final proof.

The more experience you develop, the more you can be fix mistakes by modifying the next step.
For example, I abandoned the dough in the video of the mixed method gluten development during the preshape. Forgot about it for over an hour and it spread far and wide.

But I shaped it and refrigerated it immediately, which kept it from over-proofing. (Usually I would give it 30-45 minutes at room temperature before refrigerating.)

The dough in those videos ranges from 75-85% hydration and 25-50% whole grain flour.

The video I made most recently was the mixed method one, and I used this 78% hydration recipe. (Tiny modifications of using sprouted rye and sprouted hard red, a little higher ratio of rye, and half the starter.)

You can see photos of the final bread from that dough in the previous comment in this thread.

I also put in my instagram story highlights a draft video that shows the first round of gluten development on the same dough, where the dough is much more fragile and sticky.