I saw a video wherein a baker made a well in his flour, poured all the formula's water and yeast in the well, then let that sit for a while before proceeding with the rest of the incorporation of ingredients, kneading, etc.

What is this method called? And how does it compare to autolyse (which is from my understanding just flour and water fully incorporated - no well - and without no yeast)?

2 Answers 2


The "well method" is commonly used in pasta making, though some bread bakers also use it. When one uses an autolyse step in bread making, all the flour is mixed with water. This begins hydration and enzymatic processes. With the method you describe, all of the flour making up the "well" is just sitting there...inert. The only thing I can think of is that the baker in the video is letting the yeast proof before mixing.


The well method has nothing to do with autolysis, and letting the stuff sit is not a common thing. Maybe moscafj is onto something when mentioning yeast proofing, although my grandma would do this in a separate cup before making the well.

The point of the method is traditional bread making without measurements. The baker would take a large heap of flour, then make the well, add the wet ingredients there, and hand knead by adding just a little bit of flour from the walls of the well. The first, and smaller, advantage for this is that it makes it easier to avoid lumps when hand kneading. The second, and main reason to use it, is to make the proper dough. The baker would just continue working in the well, adding just a tiny bit of flour, until she had the proper consistency (which she determined by literally feeling the dough with her fingertips while kneading). She would then take out the dough for kneading on the table, or even for first proof, and would have a single cohesive lump with floured, nonsticky sides, while the rest of the flour in her container would have no dough contamination, no need to sieve. Also no leftover half- or overhydrated patches on the walls of a bowl, and a minimum of utensils to wash (which is important when you carry your wash water on your shoulder from the village well).

You can still use the method for reasons such as nostalgia, or learning to feel the dough better, but it doesn't really have advantages for your finished product in current baking settings.

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