Friday, March 6, 2009

Handling Raw Bread Dough

I thought it might be beneficial to discuss how to handle bread dough once it has risen. Use this method with the pizza/bread dough, Buff showed us how to make yesterday and any other bread you find here at Daily Decadent. I'll leave showing more of our pizza making until next week. This basically takes off where Buff left off yesterday.
Test the dough to see if it has risen enough to come out of the bowl and be shaped. Poke it with your finger. If the indent stays, it's ready. Gently slide your hands down and around the dough.
Lift the dough out gently. The dough will begin to deflate. It is unnecessary to punch the dough down. Punching it down creates unwanted lumps and bumps.
Gently place the dough with both hands onto the work surface. It will further deflate just with this action.
To help it finish deflating, give the dough a horizontal turn over onto itself. You will hear the dough continue deflating. Be mindful that the part of the dough that was touching the bowl will be sticky. So as you turn the dough, roll this part into itself, keeping the dough that was exposed at the top of the bowl stretched over and around . All this will take just a few seconds.
Done.
When you start cutting off pieces of dough, use a very sharp serrated knife or your oiled hands to pinch off the dough. The knife works better.
As you can see the interior of the dough is soft and sticky.
Keep that sticky part away from your hands and work surface. Roll it back into the center of the dough, each time you make a cut. That means, each time you make a cut. I purposefully exposed that interior below, to show just how sticky it is. The photo below shows what happens when the cut edge isn't folded back into itself, sealing that sticky off.
If you find yourself with an exceptionally sticky batch of dough after it has risen, try oiling your hands to work with the dough. This often happens on rainy day bread-making when it is more difficult to judge if the dough is ready to put aside for it's first rising.
Keep a very light touch with the dough particularly with a sticky batch. When I'm forming the dough into little balls, I'll let it slip through my thumb and pointer finger pulling the non-cut surface over to meet the cut edge and then pinch to seal itself. In the photo above, since the dough is a larger amount, I'm using both hands to seal that cut edge.
The only "heavy-handling" will be the pinching down of the edges and rolling it into itself. Otherwise, the dough will be sticking to yourself and to the counter top and it will be near impossible to shape it. This is why sweet dough recipes often call for chilling the dough before working with it. There is less flour and more moisture making the dough stickier at room temperature.
More than a few times I've escaped to Town and left bread dough to be shaped by GG and the boys. Every time, I have returned to a kitchen filled with Scar-Face breads. If they had followed these directions they wouldn't have had such a nasty time. Follow this method of handling raw dough and the finished bread will turn out perfectly and your bread-making will be stress-free.

(Huh? The flowers? Just testing - to see if you are paying attention. GG just brought those from Town. Aren't they lovely? (xo) He knew someone who used to do that - not kiss - stick stuff that doesn't belong, into their university assignments. "If you read this, I'll bake you a cherry pie," they would write, buried somewhere amongst,"Finding Your Way Through Ancient Hebrew." Hope mine didn't equally put you to sleep. If you read this, I'll show you how to bake a cherry pie.)

1 comment:

Leila said...

Beautiful!

I agree about handling the dough gently. After reading a bunch about artisan bread I realized that my methods were too rough, and my bread has really improved!