There isn't just one way to make bread. In fact, there are several breadmaking methods. Each method imparts different characteristics to the bread, resulting in variations in taste, aroma, and texture.
Let's delve into the world of breadmaking as we explore five different methods:
- Straight dough
- Sponge dough (Zhong-zong)
- Autolyse and Overnight
1. Straight Dough Method
The Straight Dough Method is a straightforward approach to breadmaking where all ingredients are mixed together to form the dough, then proceed to baking.
This method, widely featured in recipe books, can be considered the most basic breadmaking method. It is simple and straight forward, and requires the least time. However this method does not have the depth of flavour and crumbs may be denser.
2. Sponge Dough Method
The Sponge Dough Method, also known as the 'zhong-zong' method requires a two-step process. The first step is to mix some of the ingredients to form the 'zhong-zong' first, ie. the sponge dough which is then left to ferment for a period of time. The next step is to add this pre-fermented sponge dough to the remaining ingredients to form the final dough.
The pre-fermentation of the sponge dough not only allows for deeper flavor development, it also helps create air bubbles that translate into a lighter and airier crumb in the final bread. However, as it requires two stages of mixing and kneading, the sponge dough method is indeed more time-consuming than straight dough.
3. Yudane Method
The Yudane Method involves pouring boiling water over flour with 1:1 flour-water ratio, then mixing together to create a paste.
This paste is left to ferment overnight, enriching its flavor and texture, before being kneaded into the main dough for baking. This process unlocks a pillowy-soft crumb in the final bread.
TThe yudane method is most suited for those after a soft, fluffy cotton-like bread. The addition of the pre-fermented paste improves moisture retention, leading to softer bread that stays fresh longer. As it is pre-fermented, there will be is a subtle tangy flavour in the finished bread.
4. Tangzhong Method
The Tangzhong Method involves cooking flour and water together in a saucepan until a roux forms.
Once the roux cools down, it can be added straight into the dough without overnight rest.
As shown in the image below, the roux formed is wetter than yudane as tangzhong has higher water content using a 1:5 flour to water ratio.
The Tangzhong method yields bread that is slightly chewier in texture compared to the Yudane method. Our experiment shows that on day 3, the bread made using Yudane method is still softer than the Tangzhong bread.
5. Autolyse & Overnight Method
The autolyse & overnight method involves mixing only flour and water together until they are just combined. Then, we let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered.
During this time, the flour will fully absorb the water and the gluten will begin to develop. Approximately 30 minutes later, we add the yeast and some malt, mix well to combine, followed by the salt and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. When the dough develops approximately 70% of its gluten, we add the remaining water. This autolyse method helps achieve dough that's more chewy with even air pockets, which in turn affects the overall bread's texture.
The kneaded dough is then rested overnight and baked the next day. As the dough ferments slowly at low temperatures, often in the refrigerator, this helps to develop more flavour.
Do you have a preferred method?