To window-pane test, or not to window-pane test

summary: window pane testing; using the “precision pocket scale”; is reading the instructions really necessary?

:hohoho: I (yes, I) performed the window-pane test! :hohoho:

Today is day 2 for Susan’s (Wild Yeast) Lemon Anise Snowflakes. The starter was supposed to be doubled. I mixed it late yesterday afternoon and not wanting a repeat of the other day, I left it on the counter overnight.

This morning, it hadn’t budged. Not one iota.

Of course, I shouldn’t really be surprised. The kitchen is 14C and there were only a few grains of yeast in the starter. (The starter for the fish soup bread, on the other hand, was bubbling madly and threatening to ooze out of the bowl and onto the same 14C counter. But it had considerably more yeast and zero egg or milk to inhibit yeast development.) So I stuck the bowl into the oven with the light turned on and we had breakfast.

After breakfast, I mixed the fish soup bread dough, adding a small amount of rye flour for fun. And, of course, I measured the yeast and salt with my new precision pocket scale.

I confess I’m still having a few problems working with the scale. While it does indeed measure in tenths of grams, it has a tendency to turn off very quickly if there is less than a gram on the scale. The other difficulty I have with it is that I have to wrestle the protective cover off. Gently wrestle, mind. I’m most concerned about breaking the scale! :lalala:

Otherwise, the scale couldn’t please me more! :hohoho: :-) :hohoho:

Once the fish soup bread dough was kneaded, I got cracking on making the snowflake dough. Happily, if I squinted my eyes, I could pretend that its starter had doubled. I took a look at the recipe to get out all the ingredients:

  • flour check
  • cold water (cold water? in OUR kitchen? in winter? No problem!! :hohoho: :stomp: :hohoho:) check
  • yeast check
  • salt check
  • cold egg check
  • olive oil check
  • syrup from candied peel check
  • unsalted butter check, at room temperature Oh, oh!!
  • candied peel check
  • candied ginger check
  • whole anise seeds Oh, oh!!

Okay, the “whole anise seeds” wasn’t too much of an “Oh, oh” – i just substituted fennel seeds. Sure, they’re a little larger than anise seeds but I know they’ll be fine.

It was the room temperature butter that was concerning me. Our “room temperature” butter might as well be straight out of the fridge; it’s rock hard.

Being the quick thinker I am (cough), I put the butter into a pyrex container and stuck it on “warm” in the toaster oven.

Ha. Now I had melted butter. I set it aside on the counter, thinking it would solidify by the time it was to be added to the dough.

I happily dumped everything except the butter, peel, candied ginger and fennel seeds into a bowl and started mixing. And then I re-read (I use the term “re-read” loosely) the instructions:

  1. [C]ombine the sponge, final dough flour, water, yeast, salt, egg, olive oil, and about one third of the lemon syrup. […]
  2. [C]ontinue adding the syrup little by little, mixing for a minute or two after each addition, until all of it has been incorporated into the dough. The dough should now have a medium consistency.
  3. Continue mixing in medium speed until the dough has reached a high level of gluten development. (You should be able to pull a very thin, even, and translucent windowpane from the dough.)
  4. Add the butter all at once […]

I was supposed to add the syrup gradually? Ooops!!

At least I’d waited to add the butter!!

Not wanting to repeat the Stollen fiasco, I kneaded like crazy. Thwacking the dough against the board. Twisting and turning it in the air. Over and over.

And then… (was this really me?) I did the windowpane test.

Yes I know. I’m the outspoken one who mocks those who use it:

Personally, (and this may make me unpopular) I’ve always thought this window pane test was over-rated. I think it’s enough to knead your dough until it feels smooth and silky. I’ve never managed to do the windowpane test successfully and yet I know that the bread dough I’ve kneaded has been kneaded enough.

-me, in reply to ‘The Dough Should Pass the Windowpane Test and Register 77 to 81 Degrees…..’, The Fresh Loaf

I don’t know if that window pane test ever works and keep wondering who invented it. I hand-knead all our bread and gave up on the window pane test years ago.

-me, in reply to ‘100% Whole Wheat Mash Bread’, Farine

Pffft!! Windowpane test??!! Like Astrid, I’ve never done this windowpane test either. And I’m not going to start now…. (Yes, it’s true. I’m an old dog. I can’t learn new tricks.)

-me, Kaiser Buns and Vienna Bread (BBB August 2011), blog from OUR kitchen

Well. Look at me now. I’m an old dog with red cheeks. The dough felt like it was ready but failed the windowpane test. Failed miserably.

So I thwacked and twisted and kneaded it some more. And son of a gun, it suddenly was just a little smoother and silkier AND it passed the window pane test! I could see (just) right through. It was like looking through stained glass.

And with that behind me, I was ready to add the butter, peel, ginger and fennel seeds. Of COURSE, the butter was still quite liquid. Cold, but liquid. I dumped it in anyway and squooshed it into the dough along with the seeds, ginger and peel.

The beautiful silky smooth dough is now in a covered bowl in the oven with only the light turned on. I hope it is rising. Wish me luck!!

You want photographic evidence? Are you kidding? Aren’t these words incriminating enough? :hohoho: :stomp: :hohoho:


This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, equipment and techniques, food & drink on by .

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3 responses to “To window-pane test, or not to window-pane test

  1. ejm Post author

    No no!! No need to feel sad, Karen! I’m sure that I’ll immediately forget that I ever performed the windowpane test. And even if I don’t, I’d certainly never condone its use for anything but these insanely buttery sweet doughs.

    Tanna, I don’t know what you mean. I’m looking back at what’s written and wonder what gremlins have been fiddling around typing bizarre things on my behalf. :hohoho: :-) :hohoho:



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