The homemade baker’s best friend is the French kneading
As we saw in the Previous entry,kneading is but a set of techniques that allow the correct development of gluten, which will result in a dough of fluffy bread, which rises in the oven, greña well (i.e. opens by the cuts we make) and with large alveoli. If we have no experience in making bread and imagine someone kneading, we will probably think of a rather dry dough, which can be worked without sticking to their hands, and that has a tendency to “get ball”.
This brings us to a topic of great importance in bakery, and that we will develop in this and future post: the amount of water that carries the bread (the hydration percentage) and how this affects, and much, the final result.
Generally, the more water, more handling difficulties but greater alveoli in the bread (chapata, crystal bread). On the contrary, with little water we will get a denser crumb bread, ideal for dipping a fried egg or a pisto (candeal flour bread, Sevillian bun). But how much or too little water is? The time has come to talk about panarra math or, what is the same, the easiest way in the world to refer to the amount of water (and salt, oil or any other ingredient) you need to add to your flour: the percentage of the baker.
The percentage of the baker is the amount of an ingredient referring to the amount of bread flour. For example, if your bread carries 500 g of flour and 400 ml of water (i.e. 400 g), the percentage of water, according to the “percentage of the baker”, would be:
400 ————— 500
x ————— 100
And the x, of course, is 80%. Your bread, with 500 g of flour and 400 g of water, has 80% hydration. To make it even easier, if you want to quickly know the percentage of water in your bread, multiply the grams of water by one hundred percent and divide by the grams of flour. And that’s it. In case you are curious, your bread masa mater has between 58% and 67% hydration, depending on whether you have added 350 ml or 400 ml of water, respectively, as we propose in our recipe (if you do not trust it and you will check it with the calculator, keep in mind that the amount of total flour of the recipe is approximately 600 g , since each envelope contains about 100 g of flour and you will add another 500). Masa Mater’s recipe is medium hydration, larger than that of a Sevillian bun but much drier than a chapata, to put two extreme examples.
Hydration and kneading
What does this have to do with hydration with kneading? Very simple: low hydration breads are not kneaded the same as medium-high breads. Those with low hydration must be kneaded as those who wash clothes by hand, to put a visual simile. I’m sure you’ve seen how pizza makers knead. Well, that’s it.
In contrast, high hydration, such as those proposed in our recipe with 400 ml of water, look much better with the French kneading method, also known as the Bertinet method. How to knead bread with French kneading? Read.
French kneading takes advantage of the mass having a lot of water – and therefore sticks to the table – to stretch and fold the dough on itself, easily. It’s much easier to do than explain. Basically, we take the dough with both hands, make a quick movement of forward and downward swinging so that the part of the dough that hangs between our hands is projected forward and impacts on the table (drawing 1).
As the dough is sticky, it will stick to the table, allowing us to sly it a little, and throwing and releasing the part of the dough that we had caught with our hands, it will fall on the rest of the dough (drawing 2).
Simple as that.
As soon as the tranquil is caught, the French kneading we can only love him. It’s easy, fast and combines very well with rests. This means that it is not necessary to throw a quarter of an hour hitting and stretching the dough on the table like a possessive, but that one or two minutes of kneading (you read well, one or two minutes) performed three or four times at intervals of about fifteen minutes are enough to perform the miracle. Our dough will go from unmanageable gum to a smooth ball, which in the baker’s slang is called, by its perfectly smooth appearance, “baby’s ass”.
One more thing, before you start kneading like a real gabacho muddy: the French kneading has only one d’or rule. You can’t add flour – or oil – to the countertop, or where you knead. Remember: the trick is to stick to the table. It is normal for the first or second kneaded to cost a little, and will surely stick to your hands in addition to the table, but you will see that the technique is very grateful and that the dough takes off more and more (from your hands and the table). You can moisten your hands a little when you catch the dough. And little else we can add.
The French probably have the best bread in the world (oh, l’, l’, those baguettes and pains’ l’acienne, not to mention croissants…!), so if you didn’t know it, you’re late.
He kneads the French one. Firmly, yes, but with amour.
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