by A.J. Coltrane
Bread experts will often recommend an autolyse step when making breads and pizza. Typically this involves combining the flour and water, and perhaps some of the yeast, then letting the flour hydrate for about 20 minutes. Quoting thefreshloaf(dot)com:
How do you use the autolyse technique? Simply combine the flour and water from your recipe in your mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic or a damp towel. Walk away for 20 minutes to half an hour. That’s it.
While you were away the flour was absorbing the water and the gluten strands have begun to develop. Now you can mix in your preferment, your salt, and the remainder of your yeast and, with very little mixing, achieve a high level of development with considerably less work. The crumb of your dough is also likely to come out much whiter since it has not been highly oxidized by all the beating and whipping.
Better bread, less work. What’s to complain about?
Check out the link, it’s an excellent reference.
Historically I’ve mostly used All Purpose (lowish gluten) flour. Recently though, I bought a bag of King Arthur Bread Flour. The KA flour is very high in gluten. I figured I’d try making a pizza using the KA flour and include an autolyse step for even more gluten development.
After the autolyse the dough wasn’t kneading very well in the Kitchenaid, so I removed it partway through for some hand-kneading.
It was like kneading a pot roast, or a big knotted muscle. I now understand why people call it “strong flour”. The dough ball could have done pushups.
I liked the end result. Sopressata and shallots with mozz:
I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe, mostly.