effects of extended autolyse

This last week I've been trying the Gosselin extended autolyse.  I mix up flour and water and let it sit cool for 12 hours.  While this is happening, my starter is fermenting, also for 12 hours.  I then inoculate the flour/water with the starter and let that ferment for four hours or so.  Then I build my dough, autolyse again, add salt, etc, etc.  My question is: Does the flour/water mixture actually release sugars?  Even though the dough has no diastatic malt added, it acts like there's some present.  Is this the point to extended autolyse?  Wondering what others' opinions are on this practice.


283 users have voted.


Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 March 16
Its nice to control the process of bread making entirely by ones own means, or by hand. But I only use this technique on a couple of the doughs I make where a high degree of maltose is required to produce a characteristic sweet flavour and dark crust & crumb colour. These are both based on high extraction meals which improve the bread by extended meal soaking.

However, it adds an additional step requiring more labour and storage space etc. There's no doubt there are benefits to be had by resting hydrated flour. I tend to use slower mixing speeds and add diastatic malt, it just seems more practical for me in most cases.

By increasing the moisture of flour above approx 20% amyolitic enzymes begin to degrade the damaged starch into dextrins first, then dextrins into maltose providing sufficient sugars for lactic and yeast flora. Of course, the higher the water content there is a corresponding increase in enzyme activity. That's one of the rerasons why Poolish sponges ferment so rapidly.
Panevino 2008 March 17
Great answer Danubian,  It was an experiment to see what would happen.  I did notice the outcome similar to when I add DM but I didn't know why extended autolyse has similar outcomes.  The crumb was moist with some sweetness there in the backround.  Does the temperature of the soaking flour matter at all?   Does a higher or lower temperature change the activity of the enzymes?  Can one do this method and achieve a drier crumb or does an extended autolyse  always equal a moist crumb?  Originally I did it at room temp.



JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 17

What are the "benefits to be had by resting hydrated flour?"...presumably as an adjunct process,not just leaven to dough and simple proof?

How does one evaluate the "benefits?".

JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 17

Thats interesting Tony,thanks. Barm bakers often used scalded flour,and the "Parisian" barm dan mentions elsewhere was very popular with Melbourne and Sydney bakers from the early parts of the 1900`s til WW2...its scalded flour malt and water....seeded with a "stock".

Ive used a similar technique and its mentioned in my bread book, by using cooked brown rice for the starch hit.. If you cook it well with enough water, then when its cooked,puree it in a blender with a little more water until its a fine cream,and then add it to the dough,or to a ripening leaven, it produces a faster rising, lighter moister bread which keeps well.Its an old technique.

Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 March 18
[quote=Panevino]Does the temperature of the soaking flour matter at all?   Does a higher or lower temperature change the activity of the enzymes?  Can one do this method and achieve a drier crumb or does an extended autolyse  always equal a moist crumb?  Originally I did it at room temp.[/quote]

Yes, temp regulates enzyme activity, but caution as they have varying thermal deactivtion temps, not that you'd ever soak at 63'C unless you are trying to achieve what John suggests. Or unless you wish to soften kibbled or whole grain as an added ingredient without enzyme and maltose enhancement. In some of the older bread formulas scalded starch or scalded old bread was used for just such a purpose. It was common for special rye breads, but has largely disappeared from baking these days due to labour, etc. costs, and problems with food safety standards. Of course, greater starch damage in the milling process can replace some of the need to scald starch.

If you want a drier crumb; cooler temps or resist soaking!

Soaking coarse meals and kibbled grain has real value.
Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 March 18
This can obviously become detailed as there are many changes that take place when water is added to flour and grain and left for an extended time. Not only are starches degradaded but many other complex molecules are also degraded which release some of the minerals and nutrients which otherwise remain unavailable.

Since your're more familiar with this than I am, I'll let you answer your own question.
Panevino 2008 March 18
That sounds interesting John.  What percentage of rice cream do you use.  Sounds like a natural dough condtioner with added nutritional value.  Love these old techniques that bakers used before the big chemical push.   Sounds like a gold mine worthy of exploration.

So Boris, this extented autolyse releases otherwise inaccessible minerals.  Even more than long fermentation times?  Sounds like it.  Maybe it's also easier to digest (I think this has be covered elsewhere but in a different context).  This could help some people with various intolerances.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 18

oh,i see what you meant D-man,ok.

Yes Tony,im constantly on about these aspects of sourdough as well as the others....an integral approach...ive written about it in my blogs. This is partly why the definition stuff is important,, and those who purchase it because of its incredibly low allergenic properties for example,are protected and  get what they pay for...unlike now....its open slather on "sourdough".

Fermentation releases more minerals than just hydration,because the minerals are then made more assimilable by their incorporation in the ferment...for example selenium becomes selenomethionine because it becomes part of the protein matrix,and is easily absorbed in digestion.Vitamins are also synthesised as byproducts.Also the developed acidity promotes breakdown(hence digestibility) of complexes like gluten which is largely(chemically) unaffected by hydration,being non water soluble.

From memory i used 2 cups of cooked rice pureed with enough water to make the cream,and this is  for 25kg of flour.

Panevino 2008 March 19
Thanks John.  The health aspect of naturally leavened bread, with its longer fermentation, is something that is interesting me more the more I eat and bake it.  A couple of months back I met this older german man in a bakery.  He was eating a piece of cheese cake and I asked him how it was.  His reply - it tastes dead.  He then told me about his childhood in Germany and his family farm.  The homemade cottage cheese, butter, sourdough bread, etc.  He then said that people need those bacteria that are missing in the North American diet.  After we parted ways, I wondered if the bacteria survive the baking process.  Cheese and naturally fermented vegetables I can see that they would, but what about bread?
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 19

"Healthfulness" is an aspect of s/d bread which is virtually ignored. It is truly spectacular as a healthy food. ive written lots abt this in my forthcoming book, as it is largely ignored. Most people cringe about health and healthfulness of foods which is really mindless.

The bacteria dont survive the baking,but thats not the point...everything doesnt have to be "raw" to be healthy as is being touted. The by products of the life cycle of bacteria are complex groups of vitamins,in their natural absorbable(digestible) form....as i say in my blogs,notably vit b12...these arent the analogs seen in vitamin supplements. Minerals which have been de-complexed arent affected by the baking,and the essential amino acid lysine,which is limited in cereals and critical, is actually increased in the bread....as are others. Its a complex body of highly bioavailable nutrition...if you are aware,this is easy to intuit from eating it....he is absolutely correct,most modern people dont get the micronutrients which are in traditional foods, and suffer increasing pathologies because of it. Nutrition only focuces on the gross nutrients such as carbs protein etc. What fires cognition in particular are these micronutrients, and they are in abundance in s/d,released and synthesised by the fermentation........which makes the whole yeast vs sourdough  question a no-brainer,because yeast bread isnt even in the same league,and adding yeast reduces the nutrient synthesis because the yeasts crowd out the bacteria.

JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 20
Laid back heh! did you look at the pics of their bread? At first it thought it looked like notsourdough,but knowing they are in Canada,like you, that awesome hard wheat is on tap and makes it hard not to get that superbread look...definitely not rustic.
Panevino 2008 March 24
Canadian flour eh!.  I'm going to try a new natually leavened bread using some spent grain from beer making.  We have a micro brewery here and they said they will give me some of the mashed out grain.  Have you ever tried this?  I'm guessing there's still some goodness because the brewery's pulling out mostly the carbs and leaving the rest, whatever that is.  Any thoughts?


JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 24
I just cant recall the name atm,but using the brewery spent grains is an old practice....and still in Ireland a friend tells me. The grains of dark malting are favoured to make this heavy and dense,but evidently delicious Irish bread. Let us know how it goes.
Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey 2008 March 25

There are amylase enzymes in the wheat from which your flour is made. The extended autolyse does fragment the wheat starches and release more sugars and food for your leaven.

I tried the Gosselin method over the weekend. I made some baguettes, but with 27% rye flour and with 20 hours of fermentation (not intentional - I went bushwalking and got back late). The flavour was much more complex (and magnificent) than I've tasted before, with a shorter fermentation time. After I got the dough out of the fridge, the internal temp registered 6.1 C (43 F).

Panevino 2008 March 25
I also have about 3 % rye in my rustic white.  But because I don't have a walk in cooler, I was trying the Gosselin method at ambient temp for about 12 hours and without the levain incorporated.  I theen added it.  I did notice a faster fermentation with pretty good spring but didn't completely like the extra moisture in the crumb - it's a personal preference.  The taste was good, though, and the crust excellent with some pleasing colours.  How did you find the crumb texture?
Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey 2008 March 25

Hi Panevino.

I found the crumb light and springy and soft to chew on. The flavour of the rye came through with a hint of caraway (even without the caraway it would've tasted good). I also used 4% organic raw sugar in the recipe. Peter Reihart's book "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" recommended adding a bit of sweetener when using other flours.

Very pleasant (being very biased here! It was my bread and it was fantastic!I don't know anyone else who bakes in my town, so I can't compare with other bread bakers' breads.I look at the breads on sites such as Sourdough Companion and The Fresh Loaf  and they look like real bread. I can only imagine what the crumb and crust smell, feel and taste like.

My bread is certainly better than what I've ever bought in any of the supermarkets here). 

I'll post some pictures toward the end of the week, when I get back home.


Panevino 2008 March 26

Took a bit of work but here are two photos without the autolyse.  I'll try and upload two with that method.


Post Reply

Already a member? Login