Autolysis Bread

This post was inspired by the Chef at Mandarin Oriental who is responsible over seeing the Italian cuisine, and has developed a bread using pizza dough.

I think back to the time when I was at a three star Michelin restaurant in Megeve and the chef Mr. d’Emmanuel Renaut had prepared wonderful bread. I was amazed and asked for a visit to the kitchen. We spoke about the bread and techniques. This was the first time I heard of “autolyse” or “autolysis”.

Let me explain what “autolyse”, or as the French call it “autolysis”, the word’s origin is Greek and means “self splitting”. Autolysis refers to the destruction of a cell by its own enzymes. In baking, this means that enzymes in flour (amylase and protease) begin to break down the starch and protein in the flour. The starch gets converted to sugar, and the protein gets reformed as gluten.

So why autolysis? The reason is, when you knead the dough, you also oxidize it or over-kneaded the dough results in color and flavor loss in a finished bread. So by giving the mixed flour and water time to go through autolysis on it’s own, you achieve a better result in the structure of the gluten and at the same time, you avoid some unpleasant effects of oxidation. Additionally, an autolyse period gives the flour time to soak up all the moisture, resulting in more orderly gluten formation and cell structure.

What this all means for your bread is that your dough will be easier to handle before it’s baked, and the end product will taste better, have better texture, look better, and most importantly taste better.

I have not included an recipes for autolysis because I am experimenting over the next weeks. The technique is not complicated but there are a few glitches I need to work out. I am also searching for the recipe from the chef which is buried in my few hundred thousand photos.

The photo shows the flour and water mixed just before I let it rest for 30 minutes. The tricky part is the timing of adding the yeast and salt.

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Categories: Life Cycles

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