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Jan 22, 2010 06:08 PM

dough making techniques I wish I'd known about...Frisage, French Fold, Cold oven.

For those of us who didn't start baking until the no-knead bread, here's a link to some techniques and points for ponder over.

By the way, I've become weary of seeing recipes for dough of any kinds with instructions to "Add flour as needed" because if it seems right at the moment, after kneading and resting it's easy to end up with a leaden dough that didn't get enough hydration. On the other end, the high hydration of the no-knead bread had us all tip-toeing over shaping the dough. We know that it's supposed to be wet and sticky when we mix the flour and the liquid, but really, why didn't they tell us about the "Sour-dough Guy"'s 10 second Frisage technique where the initial sticky and messy looking dough can be tamed?
(the "sour dough guy"s video link is within the above article) That it doesn't have to stay
a mess? I've managed to get around the whole thing with just a pair of chopsticks(no towels needed, no messy hands either), but I would have been more confident had I known the possibilities for the dough condition and development, that no-knead doesn't mean no shape.

Here's Richard Bertinet's video:

Anyhow, I might just be the last person around to know about these points, but in case one of you didn't know either...

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  1. You make some very good points and, even though some of the links posted at the fresh loaf site tend to make the recommendation of the link a commercial endorsement for the sale of instructional videos, some of the samples did provoke interest here.
    Thanks for sharing the information. Undoubtedly those who are new to bread baking and who, perhaps, are struggling with it will find your post useful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Thanks todao, I try to remember what it felt like to be frustrated, and post as I crawl along what would have helped back then.

      At present I'm finding that baking my croissants with some sort of light cover at the beginning helps retain the moisture to keep them tender inside. I'm able to takemy flash-frozen, previously shaped and proofed croissants out of the freezer, no thawing, no preheating, and come out with fluffy light croissants. The success of this means I will be taking the last few cool days of winter to make a bunch to freeze for the make-believe "Paris breakfast" of the coming warmer season.

      1. re: HLing

        so the first picture is the frozen dough that looked like they might not make it...the one missing was the test one that came out alright in the 2nd photo. The third picture is the rest of the batch.
        Edit: The frozen liquid around some of the dough in the first picture was the egg wash that I applied just before putting into the freezer...again, at that point I thought, "oh no! should i have done that? put liquid on the proofed dough and put right into the freezer?!!!" but it turned out fine.

    2. Have you tried this kneading technique? It looks like it would be much harder than the video shows but it's impressive to see the wet sticky dough come together. I've just used a stand mixer. I have a torn rotator cuff right now and couldn't do that right now but it's something I want to try in the future.

      Do you freeze your croissants after the final rise? I freeze before so use the thawing as part of the final rise. It takes up less space in the freezer which is prime for me. But, baking from frozen would be great for those mornings you don't plan ahead. Yours are beautiful, btw.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Chowser, thanks for your comments!

        I don't use/have a stand mixer. It's confusing at times to hear that :
        1)one must knead the dough to get the structure (but) 2)the more you knead the less flavor there dough. (and yet) 3)you can get the gluten development without kneading if hydration level is higher.

        It seems that for the portion I make each time I will never need to use a stand mixer. (plus the fact that I like to work the dough without relying on electricity) What I've tried so far has been to let the flour and the liquid rest together for a bit of time (10+ mins perhaps?) first before working them. I've actually been trying out this other technique of lightly slapping the dough after throwing it down a few times. It might be a Chinese technique as i see the noodle/bun wrapper makers doing this. I do this to get a silky and sealed surface all around the dough before letting it rest and rise (if yeast is involved), and then the French fold when I check on the dough after a couple of hours. So far this worked well to satisfy the 3 conflicting dilemmas listed above: developing the structure without much kneading, even if it means I don't "get to" muscle my way around the dough :)

        I'm sorry to hear about your injury. Though, this throw and pat/slap technique can be done with one hand. My other hand holds the pair of chopsticks the does the mixing, scraping of the sides of bowl, tucking dough under itself....etc (dough portion is from 3 cups of flour).

        I've tried freezing the croissant dough before and after the final rise. Due to using the small amount of yeast, letting it come to 2nd rise would take much longer, and less reliable if it's given to someone as gift since they may or may not know to what degree it needs to proof. So I just had to find out if it works to bring it to the point of oven-ready and then freeze; and on top of that, whether I can do the no-thaw+cold oven start. It's precisely geared toward those spontaneous croissant cravings!

        For myself though, I suspect that the taste of the"thawing as the 2nd rise" batch might be better. Either way, I would still cover as I bake and uncover only on the last stage of baking.

        Another thing to consider is that up to now, the failures has not been due to the pre or post freezing, but the state of the dough up to that point.

        1. re: HLing

          I recently (a couple of years ago) got a stand mixer and have used it far more than I thought I would, plus I bake more bread than I did before because of it. I still do like doing it by hand--it feels more authentic to me, like really baking bread. But, having gotten used to it, I've come to depend on it, especially for sweet breads like the video. The brioche dough I make seems to strain even my stand mixer so I can only imagine what it's like by hand. The other minor equipment that I've wanted and haven't gotten is the dough scraper (store always seems to be out of it).

          I hadn't heard that overkneading the dough causes less flavor and Peter Reinhart even says it's very difficult to overknead dough. I'm going to have to read more about it but less kneading, more time seems to go hand in hand, too, which is your third point. Father Kitchen here convinced me to try the food processor where autolyse is helpful. I'm not crazy about the food processor, or at least, haven't gotten the feel of how the dough should be with it (stickier than by hand). But, this is helpful on leaving the dough. I hadn't read about hydration level either, related to that so that's interesting, although come to think of it, that makes sense since the dough from the food processor is sticky.

          This whole discussion is interesting and gives me more things I need to read up on. I have seen noodle makers slap dough and never thought to compare it to bread, though it is essentially the same idea. It might be a good idea to try it out when I've had a bad day, too! Thanks for all the food for thought, so to speak!

          1. re: chowser

            If the stand mixer is straining and if you want to get back to mixing by hand there's always the option of working on a smaller batch at a time. It will give you much more control and fineness. I've not had a commercial brioche that was good in a few hour's time. It makes me think that beating it into fluffiness does sacrifice the taste and the small window of time that it tastes good. Alas, we remedy it by pouring sweet and gooey delicious concoction over it. It could be that by baking with it covered for the most part will help retain the moisture, but still, if the fluff and taste can be attained before the invention of the stand mixer, attained with minimal working of the dough...why not be covering better tasting and longer lasting bread with the sweet gooey stuff instead?

            I like this scraper for scooping up delicate pie dough since the dough has a place to curl up against, though for actual cutting probably one of those steel ones work better.

            (edit: this spatula is pretty close to the one I use for working the stickier dough in the later stages after mixing with chopsticks. Good for its non-stickness and pliability to make the French Folds.


            I remember the first time I heard the term "Autolyse" I kept thinking "auto lease". The idea of autolyse is something that bridges noodle dough with bread dough. Up to not too long ago I was separating the two as being opposite from each other: I thought that bread dough needs more water, noodle dough less...until I noticed that the highly hydrated bread dough becoming so stretchy and yet strong, just like those hand-pulled noodle doughs appeared to be, and needed to be! If anyone had ever attempting hand-pulled noodle-making he/she would know what I'm talking about. ...

            Yes, definitely, lots of "food for thought" as you said, chowser. Happy dough-ing, and happy thinking outside of a "doughbox" :)

      2. For the longest time, I thought i have to put up with the smell of the commercial yeast, nor the sour dough that often smell like something has gone bad. Today, an accidental discovery made me very happy to realize that I DON'T need that commercial yeast after all, NOR do i need the sour dough starter.

        I wonder if there was something in the sea salt that I used that led to the rising of the dough. Unbleached flour, filtered water and salt was all I used in this dough that was going to be for dumpling skins. So, no poolish used. Very straight forward, though with the new dough mixing technique (newer to me) of little kneading, but much pick up and drop, and then light patting all around before covering and let rest.

        I was actually able to stretch little portions of the dough into ribbons that could have been light fresh noodles if I had dropped them into boiling water right then (like the hand-pulled flat noodles), I had also realized at that point, the possiblility of phyllo dough, and the Taiwanese light and flaky Tai Yang pastry. 太陽餠.... All in good time.

        *edit to day that the two shiny buns to the right was my first attempt at 生煎包, or, fried little buns, something that's cooked as one would potstickers. (锅贴)