Would it be helpful, harmful or neutral to fold dough during the autolyse?

Let's say we're doing a long cold autolyse. At first I assumed it would be helpful to start the dough development early on, but then I had to wonder if starting the gluten development prematurely during autolyse would hasten the degradation of gluten later on, especially with a retard?

What does baking theory say about this question?

  • Not sure about theory, but I can say from experience what I observed. Had bread flour with added VWG, and I folded it several times during extended 3-day cold autolyse. Structure seemed good until I added starter and began folds during bulk rise. The whole thing turned into puddly mush with strings of gluten throughout. Still got okay oven spring out of it, but it was a lot harder to work with.
    – Brian
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


It doesn't much matter in that respect. The degradation of the gluten structure during a long proofing acts on the constituent parts of the gluten as well, so you can't really 'save' the gluten by delaying its formation.

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