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james 03-30-2009 03:10 PM

Running the mixer faster
I have been making an 80% focaccia and some 70% whole wheat sourdough recently, where you really have to run the mixer at a high speed in order to develop enough gluten to actually form a dough ball. If you run it any slower, you just end up with a puddle.

My question is what is the theory behind higher and lower mixing speeds. I guess I know that a lot of high speed mixing creates friction and heat, which aren't good for my dough -- but beyond that, I'm still learning.

What's at play here, and does higher speed mixing work out OK when you are working with higher hydration doughs?

Thanks all,

BrianShaw 03-31-2009 06:59 AM

Re: Running the mixer faster
The best description of the difference of mixer speeds that I've seen is in the Michael Suas book. He describes three different mixing routines, which seem to differ only by mixer speed, that results in different textures. Slower - courser; faster = finer... if I recall correctly.

EDIT: For a summary, check out the Summer 2007 newletter regarding "short mix, intensive mix, etc."

james 03-31-2009 09:31 PM

Re: Running the mixer faster
Very nice. Thanks Brian.

What do you think they mean by short and intensive in terms of minutes? The article makes a lot of sense and brings forward the idea of gluten development during bulk fermentation -- beyond mixing. Nice.


BrianShaw 04-02-2009 08:08 PM

Re: Running the mixer faster
Example mixing times from the Suas book
(assuming a spiral mixer @ 100 RPM in first speed and 200 RPM in second speed):

short mix = 4 to 5 minutes to incorporate ingredients + 6 minutes for gluten development. All in first speed.

Improved mix = 4 to 5 minutes to incorporate ingredients in first speed + 5 minutes in second speed.

Intensive mix = 4 to 5 minutes to incorporate ingredients in first speed + 8 minutes in second speed.

I haven't extensively experimented with these differences, but recently changed from a process that is generally consistent with "short mix" to one that is generally cosnistent with "improved mix" because I was not happy with the "body" of my dough. The faster mixing speed appears to build more gluten and result in a "less slumpy" dough.

BrianShaw 04-04-2009 01:31 PM

Re: Running the mixer faster
In another thread -- -- Jay describes the technique I've adopted for almost all bread: autolyze plus "improved mix". Reinhart doesn't call it by that name but the technique is the same. Separately these techniques has been an improvement, in my opinion, over the "old-fashioned" techniques... but in combination they have been a major contributor to consistent bread-baking successes.

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