Kneading a dough by hand is tedious. Kneading a dough in a stand mixer is much faster. What most people don’t realize is that a stand mixer usually over kneads a dough. Autolyse is a method of dough making that is quite simple. To start the recipe mix together the water and the flour until just combined and has no dried clumps. Then cover the dough and wait between 20 minutes to an 1 hour. In this time The glutenin and the gliadin proteins will start to create bonds. The bonds created by the glutenin the gliadin are what gives the dough its chew and allow the dough to rise and stretch. This is a great hack for making dough when you don’t have the time to knead it. But it begs the question, can you add anything else during the autolyse to improve this method? Or, should you save all the ingredients for after the autolyse is done?
“ What can be added to the autolyse?”
Dough with a DIY Outlook
Thankfully, there have been a lot of tests conducted with the autolyse method. Most of them point towards adding nothing to the flour and water. Salt, which is known to strengthen gluten strands should be omitted. Although some people have found minimal differences when adding salt to an autolyse, you want the gluten to be as relaxed as possible for the best gluten development.
Yeast is also commonly talked about when making autolyse. The reason why yeast comes up so often is that it is a contributing factor in a “no knead” bread recipe. No-knead bread is similar to autolyse in the sense that it develops gluten strands over time rather than during a mixing process. The difference lies in the method. Autolyse is typically just flour and water, then the rest of the ingredients are gently mixed in. A “no knead” dough is all ingredients added then allowed to rest overnight before baking. Autolyse is a faster process. As the yeast ferments it creates carbonic acid (CO2). Although acid is known to weaken proteins, this type of acid is relatively mild. In a no-knead bread the gases created by the yeast will help “knead “the dough as it rests overnight. Since the autolyse method happens so quickly you generally will not notice much of a difference if the yeast is added. The reason being is that the yeast doesn’t have enough time to work before the autolyse step is finished. So in a sense the yeast can be added to an autolyse dough if you wanted but you won’t gain any benefit from doing so.
Another ingredient that we get asked about is diastatic malt powder. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not this will help or hinder the autolyse. While it will consume some of the starch and create new sugars for the yeast once it is added we do not see a benefit in adding it to the short rest time of the autolyse. In addition to that diastatic malt powder sometimes contains wheat germ which can hinder gluten development. For this reason we cannot suggest adding it to an autolyse. Once the autolyse is done then it can be added with the rest of the ingredients.
So to recap, here is the best method for making dough using the autolyse method. Mix together your water and flour and allow it to develop gluten strands. Then you can mix in the rest of your ingredients before proofing, shaping and baking your bread.
From everything we know and everything we’ve read there is no real way to improve upon the benefits of doing an autolyse method. Check out our no-knead bread recipe! And until next time, keep cooking.