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autolyse | Sourdough Companion




In Bread magazine, autolyse is described as a mixture of flour and water left for 20 mins to 2 hours, AFTER which the leaven is added. In Tartine Bread, the leaven is added before the dough is allowed to rest.

My question is: what is your favourite method and why?

Does it make a difference in the proofing? the gluten? the taste?


many thanks for any light shedding comment!




Hello Olivier,

I have never done a side by side trial but I have done both methods as well as no autolyse at all, all using the same recipe and I could not honestly say that I detected any difference in either the texture, timing or taste of the loaf.

Not very scientific I would have to say - but who said bread making was scientific anyway.

Keep on bakin'


I think one difference in the technique is dictated the hydration of the levain.  One must generally add the levain in the initial mix (pre-autolyse) if it is a liquid levain, because there would not otherwise be enough water to fully hydrate the flour.  With a stiff levain, sufficiant water is in the initial mix to hydrate the flour, so the levain can be held until after the autolyse.  I don't know that either way effects the final bread in a huge way (aside from the inherent differences in the levain types, obviously).


A stiff levain needs to be mixed with water so that it can be distributed evenly through the dough.

So the levain must be added at the start, before autolysis?