Techniques – #A – Attalysis
Problem: Dough consistency varies from person to person. Those with weak wrists, injuries were unable to knead dough.
Solution: Let flour absorb water – rather than force water into it.
Credit : Prof Raymond Calvel
Though mankind has been kneading flour for millennia, the technique of letting the flour absorb water gently by itself, rather than force water into it by vigorous kneading, was discovered just a few decades ago by the French bread making guru Professor Raymond Calvel. He called it Autolysing (Greek : Self- digest).
His method is very simple. Mix flour and water at low speed and let it rest (from 30 minutes to overnight).
Finish kneading after this resting period. That’s it !
This technique lets the dough relax before kneading, making it more elastic and easier to shape. The shorter mixing time results in less oxidation, which improves colour, flavour and texture. This technique was originally developed for leavened, wheat based breads. In OPOS, we have adapted it to Indian unleavened breads, string hoppers and dumplings, renaming it Attalysis, as it is mostly used with Aata (Whole wheat flour).
Aatalysis for unleavened wheat flatbreads:
Step1: Find the water needed for your flour:
1. Use a kitchen scale. This is a precise technique. Cup measures don’t work for wheat flours.
2. Knead flour as you do normally, but carefully note down the flour: water ratio. Let us assume you use 175g water for 250g whole wheat flour. This is the key. Proceed after finding out the water needed for your flour.
Step 2: Attalysis.
Take 175g water (the quantity determined in step 1). Add 250g flour to water. Mix gently (do not knead) till all water is absorbed by the flour and the flour resembles wet sand.
3. Keep the mix covered for atleast 30 minutes. When you open, the dough would look mostly kneaded and would need minimal kneading.
Step 3: Shape and cook.
There is no change in the shaping/ cooking method. The only change is in kneading.
Different flours absorb different amounts of water. (250g to 400g water for 1/2 kg flour depending on the flour). Prefer flours absorbing more water as they result in softer breads.
1. The kneaded dough can be kept refrigerated in an air tight container for days.
Oil it or over with clingwrap to prevent blackening.
2. Salt can be mixed in right at the beginning or when you do the final kneading.
4. Oil is optional
The following ratios are standardised for Ashirwad atta, Pillsbury atta, Big basket brand atta and Nilgris atta. Use them as starting points and tweak them as per the flour you use. Different flours absorb different amounts of water.