Today, bread-making methods can be divided into direct and indirect methods.
The direct method involves mixing and kneading all the ingredients, including yeast, directly into a dough, which is then subjected to primary and secondary fermentation. The advantages of this method are the short production time, the simplicity of the process and the distinctive wheat flavour of the bread, but the disadvantages are that the bread is less resistant to ageing and the fermented flavouring substance is weak.
The indirect method, on the other hand, involves making a leavened dough first, allowing the leaven to ferment fully, and then adding other ingredients to the dough for the subsequent steps. This results in a dough that is more mature, has more fermentation products and has a more prominent fermentation flavour. The disadvantage is that the total time taken to make the bread is increased and the procedure is a little more complicated.
Timexing will share with you the role of leavened doughs, their classification and how to make them.
Firstly, leavened doughs have plenty of time to ferment. The microorganisms in the dough are able to produce fermentation products such as alcohol from yeast, acetic acid from acetic acid bacteria and lactic acid from lactic acid bacteria, all of which give the dough a rich flavour.
After baking, these aromatic substances are mixed with the aromas produced by the merad and caramelisation reactions, giving the bread an even more outstanding complex flavour.
Secondly, the seed dough undergoes a long fermentation, when the starch is hydrated over a long period of time and is able to absorb more water. The wheat gluten in the flour, on the other hand, undergoes an oxidation reaction to produce more gluten, which also makes the dough more ripe. Both of these effects give the dough a higher moisture content, allowing the bread to be baked and stored with less moisture loss, resulting in a softer, more age-resistant bread.
Thirdly, the yeast is also multiplying during the fermentation of the seed dough, which is equivalent to the primary fermentation in the direct method. When the seed dough is a high proportion of the ingredients, the dough contains sufficient yeast and fermentation products to eliminate the need for a long primary fermentation when the seed dough is used to knead the final dough, which reduces the overall time required to make the bread later on. When combined with modern refrigeration techniques (e.g. fridges, refrigerated fermentation boxes), the fermentation time of the seed dough can be extended to make the seed dough a more flexible bread-making method.
The three elements of fermentation – time, temperature, amount of yeast.
A good balance between the three is the only way to really get the fermentation right.
Whichever leaven we use, we should not allow them to ferment for too long, as over-fermentation will produce too much alcohol and organic acids, which will have a negative effect on the taste of the bread – what goes around comes around. In addition, if the yeast overpopulates and depletes the dough of its nutrients, it will break itself down to produce glutathione. This is a rather unpleasant substance and, like organic acids, it can make the gluten weak.
For those of you who are new to bread making, the names of several leavened doughs can be a little confusing. However, if you classify the leavening types properly, they are actually quite easy to understand and remember.
Leavened dough is divided into solid and moist leavened heads.
Solid fermentations include secondary fermentation and Italian fermentation.
Wet leavening heads include poolish leavening heads and sponge leavening heads, as well as fermented dough and natural leavening.
The categories are very easy to understand at a glance, but in practice, especially in home baking, we don’t use so many leavening varieties, the most common ones would be medium and liquid varieties.
- Secondary Fermentation
Secondary fermentation is the most frequently used fermented dough by bakers, it is quick and easy to make and because it is solid, it is very easy to store and manage, which is why it is so popular.
Secondary fermentation dough is simple to make and is usually made with at least 50% of the total flour content of the ingredients.
If too little flour is used, the fermentation will not work and if too much is used, the dough will be too wet and sticky for mixing. The usual ratio is around 70%, which allows the leaven to work to some extent and makes it easier to knead the gluten. You can also use 100% for a more intense flavour, but it is difficult to control the kneading process and can be over-kneaded, so be careful!
For example, to make a 1lb toast, the ingredients are 0.6lb of flour, 0.3lb of water and 0.1oz of yeast.
If you want to make a 70% secondary fermentation If you are making a 70% secondary fermentation toast, then the amount of flour needed for the secondary fermentation dough is 0.6*0.7=0.42lb, the weight of water is 0.3*0.7=0.21lb and the weight of yeast is 0.1*0.7=0.07lb.
When the secondary fermentation is complete, add 0.2 lb of flour, 0.1 lb of water and 0.6 dr of yeast, as well as the other ingredients, and knead until the recipe calls for the right amount of gluten. However, during the fermentation process, the yeast produces a small amount of water as it ferments and divides to reproduce, so reduce the amount of water and yeast as necessary when adding it later.
Ingredients for secondary fermentation
Forming the dough
Sealed and refrigerated
As the seed dough does not have a high water content and you do not have to knead it to get gluten, dissolve the yeast well in the water before adding it to the flour and mixing it into a dough, otherwise the yeast will not dissolve easily.
When mixing, it is enough to let the dry flour disappear and the dough can be rolled out. Put the kneaded dough into a container, preferably clear for easy viewing, and cover with cling film to prevent it from drying out. You can let it ferment at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, or you can control the fermentation time to 24 hours if it is refrigerated.
Everyone’s environment is different and so is the fermentation time, so you can’t give a specific time, you have to judge the dough by the state it is in after fermentation. When the dough has reached 3 to 4 times its volume, when it collapses when pressed with your fingers and the smell of alcohol is very strong, the fermentation is in place. At this point you can open the dough and see a honeycomb-like structure inside, with larger pores than the ones we usually create in one fermentation.
The refrigerated fermentation method is perfect for working people, kneading the secondary fermented dough the night before and taking it out to make bread when you return from work the next day. Once the secondary fermentation is in place, we can add the remaining ingredients to the dough and knead it to the appropriate gluten level according to the recipe, then knead and relax the dough for about 20 to 30 minutes before pressing and dividing.
It’s a wet leaven with a very high water content; it does not resemble a dough, but more like a batter. In fact the difference between poolish and secondary leavened dough is not so great, secondary leavening is flour based and poolish is water based, hence the difference between solid and liquid leavened heads, but they play the same role for the dough.
The amount of flour used for poolish is between 20% and 40% of the total flour, then add an equal weight of water with the appropriate proportion of dry yeast and mix to form a batter to complete the preparation. Salt is not a necessary option when making leavening seeds. The purpose of adding salt is to inhibit the rate of fermentation of the yeast so that the fermentation time of the liquid seeds can be extended, so you can decide whether to add salt or not depending on your situation.
If salt is added, then reduce the amount of salt added at the end of the kneading accordingly, otherwise too much salt at the end will affect gluten production and later fermentation.
Poolish is fermented like a secondary fermented dough, usually controlled to 24 hours, and you can either ferment it at room temperature or chill it in the fridge. The advantage of chilling is that you don’t have to control the time precisely, the dough will ferment slowly in the fridge and even if the fermentation is slightly overdone, it will not affect the activity of the leavening head for a short time.
You can tell if the dough is ready by looking at the bottom of the dough to see if it has formed a large honeycomb of air holes, by shaking the container on the table to make the liquid dough collapse, and by opening the container to smell a strong smell of alcohol.
Honeycomb shape at the base
Paddle the dough
The use of poolish is very advantageous for breads with a high water content, such as baguettes, ciabatta and other simple breads. Because it is so moist and soft, it is easier to mix with other ingredients to create a soft dough that expands and explodes when baked.
In fact, poolish and secondary fermentation can be used interchangeably to some extent, as long as you get the proportions of the ingredients right.
There are 3 differences between them
Firstly, poolish is much easier to make than secondary fermentation, as the ingredients are mixed directly, without even kneading the dough.
Secondly, the high volume of water in poolish allows the yeast to make fuller use of the nutrients dissolved in the water and ferments a little faster.
Thirdly, when the dough is kneaded later, the poolish is a little easier to mix than the secondary fermentation, especially for doughs with a high water content. However, poolish is a wet leavening head and is not as easy to store as a secondary leavening dough.
An over-fermented dough is similar to a second fermented dough, except that it is more over-fermented than a second fermented dough, so the advantage of an over-fermented dough is that it is very full of fermentation products and very high in aromatic substances such as alcohol, acetic acid, lactic acid, glutamic acid, etc. The purpose of adding over-fermented dough to a dough is to add these fermentation flavours.
When using over-fermented dough for bread making, a certain amount of yeast is usually added, as the growth and reproduction of yeast in over-fermented dough is inhibited and does not provide a stronger fermentation capacity.
The simplicity of this type of pasta is enhanced by the fact that there are not too many disturbing flavours of eggs, milk, oil, sugar and other nutrients, and the over-fermented dough can more fully express its aromatic flavour and indulge the senses.
Nowadays it is easier to refrigerate old dough and use as much over-fermented dough as the recipe calls for.
A small piece of dough made from over-fermented dough can be left to chill in the fridge until the next loaf, so that it can be recycled again and again, but not for too long an interval, otherwise the yeast activity in the over-fermented dough will be greatly reduced and the dough will become heavier and heavier!
Sour Dough / Natural Fermentation
The pH value of this leavened dough is around 4 to 5, which is lower than the pH value of regular leavened dough.
In contrast to ferments such as secondary fermentation and poolish, natural ferments do not use artificially cultivated yeast, but rather natural yeasts found in nature. Natural yeasts are very active in nature and they are widely found in grains, fruits and vegetables.
By soaking these substances in water, the natural yeast will dissolve into the water, then extracting this soaking liquid and adding nutrients such as flour to allow the yeast to grow and develop, a natural yeast seed can be cultivated.
The most commonly used natural leaven is a mixture of flour and water – Levain
A leaven made directly from flour is simpler than a leaven made from other fruits. By adding flour and water in daily doses, the yeast and other microorganisms are allowed to multiply.
As the dough becomes more acidic, some bacteria cannot survive, and the natural yeast reaches a certain level of abundance and activity, it is ready to be used for bread. If not used up, it can be refrigerated or frozen and fed again at intervals to keep the yeast alive. If properly preserved, the yeast can even be passed on for hundreds of years.
You can also use other plant fruits such as grapes and apples to make this, the principle is similar to Levain, in that you get the natural yeast on the surface and then feed it by adding nutrients and creating the right environment for the yeast to grow and multiply.
There are many limitations to the production of natural fermentation.
For example, the environment can be different and there are many details that need to be taken into account during the production process.
For home baking, it is not necessary to spend 10 days and half a month making natural leaven for an occasional loaf of bread.
The truth is that if you don’t have a top taste bud, you won’t be able to eat much difference.
So don’t get too carried away with natural yeast, knowing that the dry yeast we use now is originally from nature, not man-made.
Soup bread are made by adding flour to warm water and making a paste of some of the starches by the high temperature.
In the strictest sense, soup bread is not a leavened dough, but rather a bread-making technique. Its main purpose is to increase the water content of the dough so that the finished bread is less likely to age.
In fact, soup bread uses hot water to make the starch granules in the flour swell and break, releasing the branched starch and absorbing more water. This gives the dough a higher moisture content, resulting in a softer and more moist bread.
When using soup breads, the proportion of flour added to the soup bread should not be too high, as the gluten in the Soup bread is already scalded and cannot form gluten, so if the Soup bread is too high, the final dough will be under-glutenised.
Ingredients for soup breads
As it does not add yeast, it is not suitable for simple breads that require a long fermentation time, but rather for soft Japanese sweet breads.
Once you have mastered the preparation of various leavened doughs, you can convert from the direct method to the indirect method, using your favourite leaven to improve the texture and flavour of the bread, depending on the ingredients of the recipe.
Alternatively, you can convert recipes containing leavened dough into direct recipes for those occasions when you are short of time.
With the advancement of the modern food industry, bread making is becoming more of an assembly line operation and there are various improvers that act as leavening agents for the dough.
In fact, it is difficult for a skilled baker to achieve the same results with improvers.
Although additives are not necessarily harmful to health, as a baker with a vision and goal, one should prefer to reduce the use of additives and produce quality bread in a more natural way to provide healthier food for the family.
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