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BrianShaw 04-04-2009 12:58 PM

Double hydration
I'm a firm believer in autolyse (resting the flour/water for 20 minutes, or so, prior to kneading, but now I learn that there is another trick for high hydration doughs called "double hydration".

Autolyse helped cure me of kneading frustrations (the subject of a whole 'nuther thread, if anyone is interested) and I'm looking for a cure to my frustration with trying to knead a gooey mess for high-hydration applications like ciabatta.

With double-hydration enough of the water quantity is used in the mix/knead stage to ensure a good dough... then the rest of the water is slowly added to get to the hydration rate that is desired.

Does anyone here use this technique... and how does it work for you?

acbova 04-05-2009 11:34 AM

Re: Double hydration
I don't use this for Ciabatta, but I have added more water to a dough that did not feel right as I was kneading it. (I often hand knead). I usually wet my hand in the sink and them keep working the dough.

Not sure if this is too much helpful...

WarrenW 04-09-2009 05:00 PM

Re: Double hydration
Hi Brian; I am not overly familiar with Double Hydration, but the technique is a fairly standard approach. I always have my doughs autolyse and I never add all of my liquid at once. Even though I weigh my ingredients, I believe that there are many variables in flour from day-to-day and one may not need all of the water called for. As Acbova mentioned, you just have to develop a "feel" for the dough. Do you find however, in a wet dough such as ciabatta or focaccia, a need for autolyse?

james 04-09-2009 05:07 PM

Re: Double hydration
Hi Brian,
Sorry I missed this before. I haven't tried that, but I will experiment with it. I have been doing my 80% Ciabattas in three phases:

1. A minute or two just to mix everything.
2. 20 minutes of autolyse
3. 5+ minutes at a higher speed to build enough gluten to just form a dough ball -- and I stop as soon as the ball forms.

You can't do this by hand, though.

I definitely think the autolyse helps.

Modthyrth 04-09-2009 05:55 PM

Re: Double hydration
I (boldly? Insanely?) invited the reigning national pastry champions over for pizza last Friday. James, I'm happy to report that your dough recipe got favorable comments from the nation's best bread guy. During the evening, he mentioned teaching his son to make ciabatta, and the technique he described didn't involve kneading in any traditional sense. Rather, the soupy super-wet dough was lightly folded in the bowl, the bowl turned a quarter, another fold, another turn, another fold, until you'd done it four times (imagine North East South West marked on the bowl). Let it rest 15 or 20 minutes and do it again. I forget how many times you do the folds, but it all comes together almost like magic, no traditional kneading necessary. I'm really looking forward to giving it a try, so I'll post any insights I have after I have a bit of practical experience and actually know what I'm talking about. ;-)

BrianShaw 04-10-2009 03:20 PM

Re: Double hydration

Originally Posted by james (Post 53598)
3. 5+ minutes at a higher speed to build enough gluten to just form a dough ball -- and I stop as soon as the ball forms.

You can't do this by hand, though.

Maybe this is where I've been going wrong. I follow your 1-2-3 method but probably haven't stopped soon enough. My high-hydration formas a ball, then falls apart into a gooey mess. So I've added more flour... only to repeat the cycle. Next time I'll stop at the first ball.

I tried doing it by hand... what a mess.

Maybe the "turn in a bowl" method is the only way to do it by hand??

BrianShaw 04-10-2009 03:23 PM

Re: Double hydration

Originally Posted by WarrenW (Post 53596)
Do you find however, in a wet dough such as ciabatta or focaccia, a need for autolyse?

Warren, I can't prove this (not enough schooling, I suppose) but I've read that the proteins and starches in flour hydrate at a different rate... so the autolyze allows both to hydrate more equally. In a high-hydration dough it really might not matter much, but I do it all the time anyway.

texassourdough 04-11-2009 02:14 PM

Re: Double hydration
Hi Brian!

Sorry I am late into this but I have what may (or may not :o) be helpful!

It is my impression that the double hydration approach is used by some bakers primarily so that the gluten can be developed properly. I.e. mix the dough at lower hydration/BP until the gluten is formed and then finish the dough by adding water to take it to the desired BP. Main reason is that in wet doughs it can be difficult to develop the gluten adequately without overheating/overworking the dough.

Putting an autolyze in the process seems as though it should not cause any big problems.

WRT the ciabatta folding technique, the goal there is to form sheets of gluten that are not heavily cross connected so that you get a light, open structure. By folding the dough is stretched/worked primarily in planes to create sheets. By not kneading, those sheets are not worked together to create much of a web that woule create more conventional bread texture.

At least that's how I see it.


BrianShaw 04-11-2009 03:24 PM

Re: Double hydration
Thanks Jay. There's never "too late" in these conversations... some take longer to develop than others and I'm glad to hear what you have added!

The "early/easier/proper" gluten formation is my understanding too.

I'm going to try that ciabatta folding technique. I think I read about that in Joe Ortiz's book... maybe somewhere else. Getting that light, open texture has always been a challenge for me. Only real success was with Bittman's no-knead recipe. Other attempts have been only moderately acceptable, in terms of achieving open texture, but never great. Fortunately all attempts have been edible!

texassourdough 04-13-2009 05:03 PM

Re: Double hydration
Go for it, Brian!

Ciabatta has been one of what I consider my best successes (other than my sourdough). I follow Peter R's directions in Apprentice. When I do it I consistently get dough that is almost like pillows - like really airy pizza dough - with huge holes. I know others have trouble and I never have so...I don't have a clue what to attribute it to!

Good Luck!

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