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The signs are subtle but the simplest description would be not as good as less worked...
It is a touch issue as much as anything else. And my personal example would be Caputo dough formed into balls shortly after mixing vs. 2 hours before baking. IMO the latter is disticnly inferiof and therefore (effectively) overworked. The former is IMO better! But that is a personal decision!
I'm the minority voice here in industrial mixer land, but I fully believe that a minimum of dough handling is best. Ever since I tried the "no-kneed" bread recipe from the NY Times, I realized that dough wants to form gluten all by its self, and all you need is time to let it do it.
I mix my flour, salt, and yeast dry. I add all the water, and mix it just until the flour is absorbed with a silicone spatula. I let it set twenty minutes, then gently kneed it for a minute or so until the lumpiness disappears. I form it in a ball, cover it with sprayed plastic wrap, and put it in a warm place for 3 or 4 hours until it is well risen. I turn it out on the counter, gently flatten it, cut it in pieces, and ball it up. Each ball goes in an individual plastic container and gets refrigerated for a minimum of two days. Three is best. Five is about the limit. When I'm ready to make pizza, I take out the balls about half an hour before I use them. You want them cool but not frigid. You want to handle the dough as little as possible at this point. Never re-kneed a rested dough ball. I find with this technique that the dough is smooth and extensible.
But the short answer to your question is: Overworked dough is rubbery. It springs back. It produces a tough crust.
I'm sure you could do it: There are lots of cultures that have unleavened flatbreads, even.
I think the first rise is an important part of the process: It lets the yeast grow and reach equilibrium, and develops flavors. There's also the matter that the cold second rise is much less than the first warm one. I think having your dough balls double in volume would be a storage problem.
I think there are quite a few of us with some heavy dough making artillery frequenting this forum. On that score, with flour that has 11% protein, what would you recommend is a reasonable length of time to knead it for? Hydration would be around 65-67%.
I have heard of the "no knead" recipe but haven't tried it as yet as I prefer to stick to traditional methods of dough making. Looks good though, and less effort...
The reason I asked this question was that whilst kneading 1.7 kg of dough in the TBird at the weekend, I noticed a change in the texture of the dough after about 8-9 mins of kneading. The gluten was forming well and suddely it seemed to relaxed. Not sure if I was imagining it but I may try a shorter knead next time to see if there is any difference in the finished product...
I have been trying the no-knead method with bread and the results are awesome! I have also been trying the no-knead method with pizza dough and have not had much luck with getting a thin crust without tearing the dough apart. It does not seem to stretch easily. As a side note the flavor was great.
Interesting to hear of your experience on no-knead.
I still don't fully understand the theory behind how exactly the gluten is developed during this method and whether the results are comparable to the kneaded method. Perhaps mechanical kneading just speeds up the gluten formation process?
Also, how widely used is no-knead in the commercial pizza making industry? This would provide a clue to its acceptance as a reliable method, however preparation perhaps the time is a factor that makes commercial operations favour the kneaded approach.
Perhaps someone can shed some light on this as quite a few people have indicated good results with no-knead pizza.
One of the biggest lightbulb moments that has come from my adventures in sourdough-similar to the no-knead lightbulb for Dmun- is that gluten develops all on its own. Sourdough starter goes from wallpaper paste to a stringy, gluten-y cohesive mass in about a day just sitting in the jar. So in my mind, that means it's obviously about the hydration of the flour, NOT the kneading. Kneading just speeds along what would happen all on it's own using friction to unwind the flour proteins faster.
A kneaded dough is like a ball of yarn in a messy knot...the strands are there but they're wound up on each other and more knitted together, vs. no-knead which I think of like a nice tidy hank of yarn where the strands are organized, relaxed and easy to work with. You can almost follow the individual strands from one side of the mass to the other. Overworking means you've pulled on the yarns in the knot and made the whole thing into a tighter ball.
I think with pizza dough, you want a bit of a combination between the two. Loose and organized for extensibility and tenderness, but with just enough jumble so as not to get holes and thin spots and to lend a bit of chew.
I am a very firm believer in portioning my dough immediately after kneading and then doing nothing to it besides dusting with flour and stretching it into round at pizza time, but more most of the time I am doing a conventional kneaded yeast dough. I think Dmuns method of resting and portioning after the fact works best for a no-knead because the gluten network is so loose and relaxed in a no-knead that it really needs that little bit of working to tangle it up a bit for cohesiveness.
I was under the impression that the kneading process is necessary in order to develop gluten.
This has got me thinking now. Perhaps I am indeed overworking my dough in the big mixer. I was kind of mesmerised sitting watching it pounding away at the dough so maybe I let it go too long. It was definitely firming up well and then seemed to lose some of its firmness all of a sudden.... so this could be the key.
OK so just to clarify... assuming that cut/ball right occurs after kneading ... do you do an overnight fermentation? Plenty of info around (including Rhinehart) that suggests that overnight fermentation improves the properties of the dough. Why I ask is because when I have cut/balled my dough and let it rest in the fridge it seems to lose some of its firmness. I have allowed it to get to room temp so I am not sure why this would be. Strangely, I get the best firm/workable dough when I make the dough in the morning, allow 3-4 hrs to rest at room temp, into fridge for a few hrs, then get it to room temp before using.
Tks also for the N-K recipe - I will definitely give it a go this weekend for comparative purposes.
I think most of the world has been under the impression that kneading was necessary to develop gluten. I know I was, even in the post-no-knead bread phenomenon era. It wasn't until I started working with sourdough starter that I really GOT what was happening.
I don't really have any intelligent observations with regard to overkneading as I haven't experienced what you're describing. FWIW, I use larger capacity KA mixer and find that a 10-20min. rest/hydration after combining the flour/water/yeast followed by adding salt and ~8 mins. of kneading gets me what I want. I will say that my kneading times tend to be a bit longer now that it's winter and the humidity is so low which supports the idea that gluten development is really more about the water.
What I know based on Reinhardt and my own adventures in bread is that gluten moves on to break down after a period of time. For sourdough starters, I observe that at about day 3. I think that is also what you're seeing only in your case it's happened for slightly different reasons, i.e. overworking. Basically what we're saying here is that kneading just speeds up a process that would happen anyway, so that makes sense. OTOH, without seeing the dough, who knows.
So, to answer your questions, I typically do the 90 minutes start to finish method I first learned here, meaning I mix and knead, then portion and let stand at room temp for 90 mins. before use. I refrigerate leftover portions so they are effectively getting a one to two day cold retard that way. In that case, they are looser and floppier but work just as nicely -although a bit more care is required- up to about day 3. After that they become difficult to work because the gluten is losing it's gluteney-ness, aka breaking down.
For an all white flour dough, I don't find much of a detectable flavor difference between the freshly made and the retarded. If anything, I like the un-retarded flavor better for pizza. With whole wheat flour doughs it's more noticeable. In that case if time permits, I use the Reinhardt overnight "soaker" method on the WW flour but I don't consider that an absolute necessity. This is 50% WW dough which is the highest % I'm happy with for pizza crust in the VPN genre.
Have we discussed what hydration % you're using? Just based on what you've said, I'm wondering if you're just used to a dough that would be underhydrated by my/our standards...? I ask because I would never use "firm" to describe a desirable characteristic of my dough. Loose and floppy, baby. It should never need bossing around to get it to do what you want.