Windowpane test / gluten developement... ?

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by mymilkexpired, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. mymilkexpired

    mymilkexpired

    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    10
    When making breads, specifically from The Bread Bakers Apprentice, i try testing my kneeded dough against the windowpane test (think its page 51).

    My dough never passes the test. It usually tears before i am able to stretch it out thin enough. I am kneeding by hand, i dont really want to mess the kitchen by using the mixer and dirtying more dishes.

    Naturally i bake the bread anyway (still turns out fine). What could be causing this? The flour is hydrated and everything, my doughs' are not sticky etc... I can only assume that my hand kneeding technique is sub par.

    Ideas???
     
  2. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Could be that your dough isn't worked enough, or that your flour isn't strong enough. What sort of flour are you using?
     
  3. jock

    jock

    Messages:
    1,310
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    At home cook
    It could also be the way you are testing the dough. If you are too rough with it, it will tear. Take a piece of dough about the size of a cherry in hands well dusted with flour. Flatten the disc a bit then ever so gently tease the dough till it gets to the window pane stage - or if not, knead some more.

    Jock
     
  4. mymilkexpired

    mymilkexpired

    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    10
    momoreg - the flour im using is Arthur Bread Flour.

    Both - I just received my copy of Brother Juniper's Bread Book. After reading though some of it tonight I think i may be under estimating my kneeding time. I'll give it another go in a few days and let you know how it comes out.

    I think you may be right Jock; i may be over excited about the whole process and try to rush the 'relaxed stretching'.


    I appreciate the feedback. :)
     
  5. kylew

    kylew

    Messages:
    1,635
    Likes Received:
    156
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    KA Bread flour is very high protein flour. It is unlikely that you will be able to fully develop the gluten by hand. This flour is meant to be kneaded mechanically. If you really dont want to dirty your mixer, try switching to Alll-Purpose flour.
     
  6. mymilkexpired

    mymilkexpired

    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    10
    Well i make 4 loafs over the last week and used the mixer for the kneeding... I was able to achieve the windowpane state much easier when i was using the mixer. So i guess its in the mixer from now on...

    Thanks for the tips :)
     
  7. kylew

    kylew

    Messages:
    1,635
    Likes Received:
    156
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    Glad it worked out. If you want to play with bread and not use your mixer try King Arthur All Purpose Flour. It has more than enough protein and you can develop its gluten by hand.
     
  8. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    If you get a chance, try picking up some bread flour from a local bakery. Then smell it/taste it next to King Arthur's. King Arthurs, imo, is horrible tasting flour. You don't notice it when smelling/eating it alone, but next to a good flour, the chemical taste is easily discerned. I promise you, once you start working with bakery flour, you'll never buy flour from the supermarket ever again.

    Bakery flour handles beautifully as well. Regardless of the temperature, level of hydration, amount of kneading involved, KA flour would NEVER do a windowpane for me. Not only that, it would tear all the time when I would stretch the dough for pizza - even after being fully rested.

    KA bread flour has great marketing/image and a lot of people swear by it (including even Reinhart), but if you ask me, it's garbage, both in taste and in workability.
     
  9. lamington

    lamington

    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    10
    I've been thinking of asking this for ages, and as this thread is addressing the same sort of issue... I hope the original poster doesn't mind... I have 'phases' when my pizza dough is loose and inelastic. It looks dull and tears easily. I generally prepare it with whatever flour I have around (ie, cheap all-purpose through to good baker's flour).

    1 cup flour, 1/4tsp salt, 2tsp oil, 1/2tsp dry yeast, water as necessary

    I just wizz it together in a food processor, or sometimes do it by hand, and have been doing it successfully (mostly) for years. BUT sometimes the dough just refuses to cooperate, regardless of the flour chosen. I wondered about the water, the salt, the oil... nup. Can't identify the source of the problem. But, heck, it can't be a jinx!
     
  10. kylew

    kylew

    Messages:
    1,635
    Likes Received:
    156
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    Chacun a son gout :) I've been using KA bread flour for years and IMHO produce some pretty tasty breads :chef:
     
  11. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    KyleW, I used KA flour for many years as well and used to think the exact same thing. I'm sure, as an experienced baker, you've found ways to get around it's limitations.

    Have you tried commercial flours? If you haven't, I highly recommend it. Most bakeries will sell you a pound of flour for about 50 cents. One detour on the way home and a 50 cent expenditure. That's not that much to ask. If you are passionate about baking, which you seem to be, I would think you'd be just a little curious about the qualities of commercial flour. That is, if you haven't tried commercial flour already. If you have, and prefer KA, then, yes, to each his own taste.

    Should you decide to experiment with bakery flour, Spring King Flour is the one to look out for. I promise you, one smell of the two flours side by side and you'll start to have doubts, after kneading, these doubts will be serious and after the loaves come out of the oven, the nails will be hammered into King Arthur's coffin :)

    If you don't want to take the time to find Spring King Flour, I'm willing to even call around to bakeries in your area and find it for you. That's how strongly I feel about it.
     
  12. chef mike

    chef mike

    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    10
    Fun to hear conflicting opinions.
    I'd never heard of Spring King, but I'm going to try to get some from Dawn.
    I've really had good results with Kyrol high gluten, but I still like to add 3 or 4 heaping Tb gluten to a 5 pint batch of dough.
     
  13. hannibal

    hannibal

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    10
    I used to have the same problem with the 'window' test, i.e. the dough would never stretch out to a really translucent degree. It would always break when still quite thick. Anyway, I found adding some gluten to the flour (anywhere from 2 - 4%) fixed the problem, and enabled a good thin window to appear. I have found that even the bread flours available which had protein levels from 11 - 12% needed this extra gluten. Bakers who I have spoken to about this subject concur. Maybe give this a try and see if it works for you?