I'm just wondering, what's the point of letting dough rise twice? I've seen a bunch of recipes in the form:
- Mix dough together and knead
- Let it rise
- Knead again
- Let it rise again
Why do they do this? Doesn't kneading just push the air bubbles out?
Allowing dough to rise twice results in a finer gluten structure than allowing it to rise once. It results in a smaller crumb and prevents huge gaping airholes in your bread. The reason that you have to let it re-rise is that you just pushed all the air out with the kneading you did developing that gluten structure.
Leavened bread just seems to taste and bake much better with two or more knead & rise cycles.
The knead process layers and stretches out the gluten to make a smooth, consistent texture which will hold together when baked; it also traps the yeast gas (CO2) as fine bubbles in the dough.
After the last knead you should transfer the dough to the pre-warmed container you are going to cook it in/on and let it rise in that.
With doughs that are slightly more oily or wet than standard bread dough you can cheat at use a standard food processor with its horizontal chop blade to knead. Just put all the pre-warmed ingredients into the processor and let it rip until it forms a smooth ball. This is great for pizza dough (100% whole meal flour and lots of olive oil). You have to hang onto the machine though, because as the dough starts to ball, the machine will walk off the bench!
One reason to do a second knead (and I'd do a real short, gentle one if required) is to redistribute the yeast a little, giving it fresh food to work on.
But I'm not sure I'd actually knead twice even if I wanted to do that--I'd lightly punch down and fold the bread in thirds and call it done.
As already said, the second rise does nice things for texture, and it also allows the yeast to grow longer, giving you more yeast flavor and converting more sugars from the flour giving you a nice flavor complexity. In my opinion, you can get the same effect by having a much longer (like overnight) cool rise in the first place.
I love making bread. I make it every other day or three. (Also make your own butter it's so easy and tastes great plus less expensive than buying it. You can control the amount of salt.)
My suggestion, as most of the reasons have already been very well addressed, is to split your recipe into two batches. Half of it should be cooked straight from its first rise. The other half should be knocked back and let it rise again.
Obviously, with the first half, you need to put it in the final baking container not the rising bowl.
When they have both cooled from baking, do a taste and texture comparison. You can decide what you like and ultimately that's what counts.
A lot of the reasons for the second rise is the texture. The reason for a long fermentation is to not only enhance the flavor but develop the gluten structure. There are recipes that do not do anything but let the dough ferment and the longer the better.
I purchased a Bosch mixer and having this machine, the second rise the thing of the past for me. The developed gluten structure with a Bosch is amazing.
I have been making bread in every imaginable way possible for over forty years. With no help mixing and kneading other than the muscle that one has in his or her biceps and forearms.
I purchased Kitchen-aid mixer some thirty years ago and have been through three of them until I purchased a Bosch. I was grateful for the help the machine gave me. I always did the two proofing method and was satisfied I was getting the best product. Then the Bosch was the lasting decision breaker for me. I knead for 10 min with the machine and rolled the dough into loaves and let them rise. the bread is unbelievably supple and delicious. This is even after I freeze all my loaves before eating.
I have read a lot of theories on this and only one makes sense to me. You knead your dough again to redistribute the yeast in the bread Commercial yeast is very concentrated, and if you don't allow for a second rise, you will have areas with very little yeast development and areas with high concentration of yeast (hence the air bubbles)
I should note that in Spain, the professional bakers learn to bake with what is called the "masa madre", which is an aged, well fermented bread dough. Since the yeast in this form can be knead evenly into the dough during the original kneading process, a second rise is not necessary.
I will, as usual, suggest experimentation.
At times, I make bread, knead it, form it, drop in in a pan, let it rise once, and bake it. It's expedient. It's bread, and usually quite decent bread at that.
Other times I rise and punch down/re-knead a bit 1, 2 or even 3 times.
Other days I make a wet sloppy mess I can't really knead and pour/scape it into the pan.
It's all bread. Some of it is not as different as you might expect; some is.
For a "more controlled than is often the case" experiment, make dough to support 2-3 loaves and:
Somewhat inefficient of time and oven fuel but it lets you see what differences there are (and are not) starting from exactly the same dough.