Jim Lahey, Elasticity and Bread: Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series 2015

Jim Lahey, Elasticity and Bread: Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series 2015


PIA SORENSEN: The scientific
theme of this week is elasticity. And the reason we talk about
elasticity in this class is that it is– so if you want
to be scientific about this, it is kind of one of the closest
ways you can get to describing things like mouth feel and texture of foods. So if you think about what makes
a good food be the way it is, you certainly have flavor, but then
you have that mouth feel and texture. And if you wanted to describe that,
to describe it with elasticity is actually not a bad way to do it. You can then elaborate on
that, and you can also, of course, if it’s a liquid food,
you can talk about the viscosity. But elasticity is very good
when it comes to solid foods. So, for example, this is important
when we talk about steak. Elasticity actually describes
the texture of steak pretty well. So when you start out with a raw
steak, it has a low elastic modulus. It’s quite sort of squishy. And then as you cook it, you
get a firmer and firmer steak. If you don’t like steak,
you can talk about tofu. I prefer tofu. Tofu comes in soft
tofu and in firm tofu. And you can then, if you really
wanted to then look at the elasticity, you can go and you can put
little weights on the tofu. And you can measure how many
weights can you put on the tofu before it squishes too much,
and how much does it squish? You can do the same thing with steak. You can do this with raw steak. You can measure how high it is. And then as you add the weights,
how much does it squish together? You can then cook the steak, and you
can see how much the elasticity changes. Right? Sometimes we joke that in
this class, we ruin food. This may be one of them. So if you then wanted to understand
what happens in that steak as you squish on it, you can think of
it the way you would think of a spring. So how many of you remember this
picture from some physics class a long time ago? Yeah some of you. Some of you. So this is how you would
typically talk about forces. And then when you put a force
on the spring, it expands. And it expands by a certain length. And if we measure that
length, we can understand how springy or stiff the spring was. So you can do the same thing with food. So that is the same
thing as we do there, except here we’re then sort
of also taking into account that the steak has an
area and the weight is distributed over that entire area. OK. Does that make sense? See, they really want
you to take over now. They’re like, can you
please start talking. Sorry. Jim is deep in thought. JIM LAHEY: But what about the
percentage of fat in the steak? PIA SORENSEN: What about
the percentage of fat? JIM LAHEY: I mean,
obviously, the density of fat is different than the density of muscle. PIA SORENSEN: Yes, good, good. JIM LAHEY: Let alone the fact that
fat is fat and muscle is muscle. PIA SORENSEN: Very good. Very good. So there’s all kinds of
things that are going to affect how squishy the steak is. And you’re saying that has
something to do with the fat. JIM LAHEY: I mean, you’ll never get
two cuts of meat that are– unless they were from the same cloned, two clones. Even then, I think it would
be very difficult to– PIA SORENSEN: It’s complicated. JIM LAHEY: Yeah. Well, it goes back to the human aspect,
that we’re tinkering with our hands and we’re measuring things with
our eyes and writing things down. PIA SORENSEN: Yeah. See? Chefs always beat us up because
we’re simplifying things too much. But– JIM LAHEY: And then why does– going to
philosophy, why does mouth feel matter? PIA SORENSEN: That’s
a whole other lecture. JIM LAHEY: Well, that has to do with
this idea, concept of sensual pleasure, that if a food feels good to eat,
you’ll probably eat more of it. I mean, if food is like loaded with
sugar, we tend to eat a lot more of it. At least that’s what– hi. I’m so glad that this lecture’s not
sponsored by Cargill or ConAgra. It’s kind of nice. It’s refreshing. PIA SORENSEN: We try to be professional. So can I just show this picture? Because I think this one is
just going to kill you, Jim. This picture is just going to
kill you because this is taking– [APPLAUSE] This is taking all the
complexity you just talked about, and it’s boiling it down to saying
that that elasticity that you see in the steak is due to some
cross-length distance within the steak. And so this is similar to what we’ve
seen before when we cooked eggs. And we talked about, three weeks ago,
about how that cooking of the eggs is due to the proteins unfolding
and then re-coagulating. And they form this network. They form this gel. And it’s also similar to the gel
that forms when you make jello. So if you really simplify
things, then you boil it down and you can then apply–
let me see– this equation. And you can say that that elasticity,
that squishiness that you measure, is all due to the cross-length distance. So this is a way you can just
describe foods in general. And this is the same thing
that happens in gluten. So now, we’re getting closer. So in gluten, there are these glutenin
strands and gliadinin strands. And they are going to bind together. Many gluten molecules are
going to bind together was with cysteine bonds and form
these long, intricate gluten networks that are going to bind together. And when you squish
on that, they’re going to have an elasticity
similar to what the steak has or the egg has or the jello has. So you can take this, and you can
apply a lot of the same equations. So that’s what we do in class. See, now I totally ruined it, didn’t I? JIM LAHEY: No, not at all. PIA SORENSEN: OK. He’s very polite. Right. So you can then, if you think about what
the molecular structure of this gluten network looks like, then you can think
about what actually happens when you add more or less salt, when you have
a high-protein flour, when you have fats and oils in there, when you have
a high humidity or a low humidity, when you have a high
pressure, low pressure. Then you can start to
understand how that happens. So enough of me. JIM LAHEY: Can you
leave that last one up? I like– that might be useful. PIA SORENSEN: You like it? JIM LAHEY: Yeah. Or remind me [INAUDIBLE]. PIA SORENSEN: OK. So enough of that. So let me please introduce Jim
Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. We’re so excited to
have Jim here tonight. A while back– should I tell this story? So a while back, I was surfing
around on the internet. And I had heard of Jim. And he came up as part
of the general feed. And I watched this video of you,
where you were making doughs. And then you were talking
about viscosity and elasticity. And he was using all
these scientific terms. And I was like, I want to meet this guy. So guys, you can now all meet this guy. Let’s welcome Jim. [APPLAUSE] JIM LAHEY: Thank you. It’s a great honor to be here. I mean, as someone who
dropped out of college or got kicked out and then dropped
out, it’s kind of cool that a really highfalutin school like
Harvard would invite a hack like me to come here and talk
about elasticity in dough. I had, over the last three weeks or
four weeks, fantasized what I would do. And unfortunately,
nothing– as life sometimes prevents us from doing the things
that we think we’re going to do, I’m going to do something
else instead, which probably will be more interesting. So I came up with this idea about
elasticity, that if it sticks, it sucks, and if it sucks, it sticks
as a way of describing things that are elast– not elastic, but sticky. Because obviously, things
that are elastic at some point are kind of sticky. I mean, even meat, fat. Obviously, when you add flour and
water together and you make a polymer, it’s sticky. So what I was going to do is
I was going to do two doughs. One dough I was going to make by
hand and during the process of making the dough, just kind
of stream of thought, whatever comes to my mind about
the process that I’m doing. And then on the other side, I was
going to do a very fast no-knead dough with turns, which is
like a no-knead dough except rather than actually using
my physical energy to kind of get the dough to align– I mean, there
are other ways I can do it, as well. I could just mix the flour and
water together and let it sit, and then begin to manipulate it. But I figured the bigger the mess
I make, the more fun it would be. So I had learned to do this by
buying a textbook some 25 years ago from a publisher, Van Nostrand-Reinhold. You ever heard of this publishing house? Well, they used to be a publishing
house for academic or science books. And they published a
series on artisan baking by a bunch of very
renowned French bakers. So it’s like a very kind
of French point of view, in terms of the style of the baking. However, the universal holds
true in that this is something that human beings have
been engaged with, i.e. the making of some form of
fermented bread, probably for– I mean, I would guess about 8,000 years. But in terms of
archaeological evidence, I think it’s only 6,000 years of evidence. But I’m sure it goes back further. So I just have about
a kilo of flour here. And I’ll show you when– I’m
just gonna add the flour. This is a negligible amount
of salt, 10 grams of salt. I’m making, like– have any of you
been to my bakery in New York City? So you ever had a pizza bianca? Pizza bianca. So this is basically like
a pizza bianca dough. And this, I was told by my confederates
here, is about a liter of water. Some I’m just gonna try to
make this as wet as possible. And this is pretty wet. That’s wet. That’s Is wet as it will get. That’s exhibit number A,
exhibit A. And actually, I did forget to put yeast in here. So I’m gonna have to
remember to do that now. So just so you know that
it’s an imperfect science, and this can be done. So there is a difference
between these two doughs. One dough is bleached flour
from some supermarket. And the other one is a
labeled and unbleached flour. So I guess one has some type
of bleaching agent in it, and the other one does not. But these are not particularly,
like, pedigreed flours. They’re probably just the general
commodity that you get from– and it’s so white. It’s unbelievable. I haven’t seen flour this white since–
well, I was going to make a joke. But I’m not going to go there. [LAUGHTER] Got some sick people. Sick. So this, I’m just going
to put this together. Oh, crikey. So I’m just going to kind of put
this dough together very quickly and allow it to sit and then start
turning it about every– can someone be so corny as to put– oh. Maybe I should put my timer on. Just every 15 minutes. Actually, ideally every 20 minutes. So I’ll probably get to dough to turn
once or twice before– but you’ll see the textual thing. This dough, on the other hand,
we’re going to beat it up. And by beating it up, I mean beat it up. Just trying to keep my hands clean. I feel bad that I’m making
such a mess in this. And look, somebody even put, like,
gaffer’s tape down here and everything. I mean, I could try to
do it on this tabletop. But it’s going to be a big mess. So let’s not. And we’re not gonna eat this. So we are kind of
committing a mortal sin. So this dough is going to be– I’m
going to try to make it even wetter than it is. Oh. That sounds good that
you made that noise. [LAUGHTER] You’re making me feel like I
actually do have a show for you. So this dough will come together. And I might even add more water to it. And so I learned this technique
of throwing dough down. I told you it’s gonna be messy. But what you’re going to
see over the next 10 minutes or so, as I talk– oh, look at that. So you can see the dough
beginning to stick together. It does have a certain degree
of cohesion and elasticity, although– scientific
language– it’s disaggregated. It’s not together. It’s not elastic. So by causing friction, in part–
it’s also chemically over time, the dough will begin
to adhere to itself. So I don’t need to do this, which is
what I’m kind of famous for, which this is no need recipe. And believe it or not, this will– [LAUGHTER] I warned you. This will come together. And I will be covered in
sweat and pieces of dough. And if it doesn’t come
together, it was funnier. I made you left, which might even
have a greater value in the long-term. So basically, what
I’m going to do is I’m going to keep trying to create as much
friction as possible with this dough until– am I getting
anyone in the front row? OK. But you will see it come together. You know, I ought to have asked
for a plastic dough scraper. But we’ll use a spatula. It’ll work just fine. Thankfully, we’re not eating this. Who knows what was on
this countertop, right? What sort of odd experiments were here. This is pretty wet, actually. I take that back. There is a high probability that
this dough will not come together. [LAUGHTER] In which case, you will all be
getting your money back at the door. But I swear to God, I
did this class one time at NYU’s department of
nutritional studies. I forget what floor it was on. And I had an entire classroom of
people doing this on metal tables. And we had like five or six
people come up from the floor below trying to figure out
what the hell was going on. And, you know, once you
get used to this method, you’re basically taking the
dough, stretching it out, and throwing it down. This is entertaining, right? [LAUGHTER] So this could be like the coolest
performance art piece, especially if– [LAUGHTER] If I’d only keep my fucking mouth shut. Oops, sorry. [LAUGHTER] Does anyone have doubt
that this dough– holy sh– [LAUGHTER] Oh, I just ruined my new sneakers. Damn! OK. I knew that would happen. So we’re testing the
limit of the hydration of this dough, how much water and how
much liquid this particular flour can hold. And depending on the quality
of the protein in the flour, as well– more the
quantity than the quality. You see, you want to hear that noise. If you hear that noise, it’s good. It means things are beginning to stick. And the texture is
changing a little bit. It was actually stiffer and thicker
in the beginning, if you noticed. And the more I begin to knead the dough
or agitate the dough, the more liquid it appears. I’m going to try to contain
myself and not get everyone in the first row disgustingly messy. And this can go on for quite some time. So we better talk about something else. So I started baking bread as a
way of quieting my troubled mind and found a lot of solace in it. And I kind of became a bread
junkie when I went to Italy. Although I have to say, if
you were to go to Italy today, you would not become a bread junkie. You would be on a bread-free
diet because the bread in Italy right now is, for the
most part, pretty bad. They’re going through a new Dark Ages. They’ve forgotten that they’re a
country that has this long history and tradition of food-making. And it just– holy– [LAUGHTER] I should have painted
myself blue, right? [LAUGHTER] But you see the texture
of the dough is beginning to– and, you know, this isn’t
dissimilar to, like, having a mixer, other than the fact that the cleaning
up is quite kind of like– we were having a conversation at
dinner about what a big mess I’m capable of making. Oh. [LAUGHTER] Especially when I enter
a room and there’s flour. And eventually, this dough will,
through this agitation, begin to adhere. There’s probably some degree
of evaporation taking place, obviously, because I’m taking this
dough and I’m spreading it out. And we’re making a big mess. And my beautiful apron that I was
given, my commemorative apron– AUDIENCE: Like your sneakers. [LAUGHTER] JIM LAHEY: They’re not new. I knew what I was coming here
for, so I dressed appropriately. So has the 15-minute mark occurred yet? OK. AUDIENCE: No. Six minutes. JIM LAHEY: OK. Good. Let’s see if I can get this
dough together in six minutes. That would be redeeming. So I would suggest that if you were
to do this, do this in your shower. Set yourself up with a
nice table in your shower. But please, wear some form of
clothing when you’re doing this. It just gets too weird otherwise. [LAUGHTER] I don’t think anyone’s going
to want to eat what you make. [LAUGHTER] But you can see the dough
is beginning to develop cohesion it didn’t have before. Its texture is beginning to change. And this really is a
one-to-one- ratio of flour to water because I was told that
there was a liter of water in there, and we’ve used it all. And the flour was a
little less than a kilo. So there we have it. We’re almost there, almost there. Five minutes to go. Four minutes, right? Now, you’re gonna notice the other
dough is gonna come about probably better with a lot less effort. [LAUGHTER] Imagine if I could aim it. That would be so cool. You, in the fourth row! Duck! If you have children,
this is a great thing to do, experiment to do with them. If you have people helping you clean
your house up, that’s even better. But if you don’t,
that’s a great exercise in how to clean up a huge mess. So what I’m doing by doing this is
I’m causing those protein molecules to align. And it’s not like they’re alone. I mean, there’s also a
lot of starch involved in the structure and texture of dough. I could have added the salt later
if the quantity of salt was higher. And that would actually have a helpful
effect on the tightening of the dough. And my science friends
can tell me, and I think it’s because salt and
water are opposite polarities. Is this true? Oh, they’re the same polarity? Salt, water? Polarity? Same? Oh, shit. There goes that theory. I did– see, I told you
I’m not a scientist. I did bring my eyeglass case, though. But that’s OK. Come on, dough. You’re gonna come together. Behave. So anyway, when I do add
salt to dough– maybe you can tell me why– it
does tighten the dough up. Probably should have. [LAUGHTER] You another weird thing
about dough and things that are really sticky,
apart from the fact that they– I think in general,
human beings avoid them, are excited by them, and at the
same time kind of get, like, weird just because it’s sticky. It’s gross. It’s like King Kong just blew
a booger out or something. So there’s this thing about
things that are wet and sticky that in general don’t
work well with machinery. For example, the reason
why most bread that we eat is lacking texture or flavor is
because most of the foods that we eat are manufactured mechanically. Very, very little of the
bread we eat per capita is made by craftspeople– or just people
in general, not craft or not craft. Most of the food that we
eat is usually manufactured. I think we’re almost there. I’ll be saying this for,
like, the next 20 minutes or so, until the sweat
pours down from my face into this dough, which you will
not– that no one will eat. You weren’t expecting this, were you? We there yet, timewise? AUDIENCE: 40 seconds. JIM LAHEY: OK. This is our experiment. Oh, gross. I’m like totally– this is like, oh man. This is the worse it’s ever been. I haven’t done this, by the way, this
demonstration, in, like, 20 years. So it’s kind of special to kind of
go back to the origins of my baking. I used to make these very
large batches of dough. I kid you not, like, 20, 30 pounds
of dough in a garage in Brooklyn. Yep, you heard it– Brooklyn. And I’m glad I kind of stopped doing
that because that was a real mess. AUDIENCE: Time’s up. JIM LAHEY: Time’s up? All right. So I’m just gonna take this dough. And this is approximately
the same hydration. Same hydration. I’m just going to fold it
over like this, and that’s it. I think this method’s gonna win. [LAUGHTER] It already looks nicer. Look at that. It’s even got elasticity. Dang! And no mess! I’m also available for children’s
parties., bar mitzvahs, weddings. You want some unique– I can
see the dough is actually beginning to come together. So I’m kind of excited now, motivated. They were so upset with
me at NYU– pretty much like they are going to be at Harvard–
that they never invited me back. [LAUGHTER] And I’m not doing this to try to
coat everyone in the first row. I’m– ooh. That was bad. Usually when I do this, I get,
like, a big globule on the face. That hasn’t happened yet, thankfully. But if it does, feel free to laugh
because at the end of the day, every little bit helps. So if you laugh, it’s good. It’s all good. The bread you can make using
this method is as good as bread that you could make using a stand mixer. And so there’s no real
reason to do this other than being able to understand
what happens if you take dough and you throw it on a tabletop
as if it actually matters. Like, I actually question
the validity of this method right now because when I
was learning how to bake, that’s all they had
vis-a-vis (FRENCH ACCENT) this French book or the French guy. And he’s going like this. So– sorry, are there
any French people here? I’m insulting. [LAUGHTER] You guys have a basketball
team, right, here in Boston? Right? What’s the big basketball team here? What’s their mascot and their logo? Some encephalitic kind
of little guy, right? There should a class action
suit by the whole country of Ireland against the city of Boston
for characterizing Irish people as encephalitic and belligerent. Think about that. Really negative. I mean, ’cause you
know, sports teams now are their– across this
great land of ours, sports teams are having their day in
terms of the names of sports teams. I was going to start making some
jokes, but I’m– tasteless jokes. But I’ll stay away from the subject
because I might piss someone off. But I can always make fun of Irish
people because I’m geologically Irish. I guess it’s not the same, is it? Oh, gross. Come on. Come together! It will. It will. It will. It really will. I swear. I swear to you. I know that this is a big
mess, and I feel like I’m creating a halo around me of splatter. I’m really in trouble, aren’t I, Pia? I know I’m in big trouble. I’m in big trouble. I can tell. How many minutes are we
total on this exercise? I’m going to theorize
that at about 18 minutes, it’s going to start to appear as a
dough because– have I gotten anyone yet in the front row? OK. But you’re not, like– I don’t
see any globules on your bags. OK. I’m gonna try a little harder, then. I didn’t need that shirt anyway. So this method– I’m trying
to discredit this method. This method, which was published in
this book– I think the book was, does anyone know the baker Eric Kayser? Eric Kayser. So he was like one of the main
bakers featured in this book. He was so young. So what’s interesting is
that it might not be true that all of this physical
activity– is it really helping align the protein molecules? Or is it just, like, a wank. Is this master baking? [LAUGHTER] Do any of you know any master bakers? [LAUGHTER] Chronic master bakers that, like,
put tables in their showers and knead dough? [LAUGHTER] So I just got my worth from this
because I’m making you guys laugh. And that matters more
to me than actually teaching you a darn
thing about baking bread because I made your lives richer today. But you’ll see that this
dough will come together. I’m willing it! It’s my ego! I got to make it come together! It’s got to stick together! Come on, dough! Come on! Just kidding. You can’t talk to dough. That would be the definition
of insanity, right? But I can see the texture of the dough,
it’s developing a lot of cohesion. I mean, there’s this
thing called the autolyse that takes place, this period in which
the flour and starch absorb water and the protein begins to denature. But you hear the sound is changing. It’s becoming more of a thud. It’s definitely getting cohesive. [APPLAUSE] Come on. It’s not a dough yet. Encore? Oh, my. Oh, my. You should see back here. It’s even worse. So I came to the conclusion
of the no-knead method after practicing this for years
before I opened up a bakery. And the reason why I
came up with this method was it dawned on me that there’s
no way ancient civilizations who had policies of global domination and
expansion based on a wheat economy, not a petroleum or
technology economy– there’s no way that the Romans, for example,
could conquer the world if they had to be engaged in this master baking. They would have been too tired. There would have been revolts that we
would have heard about that probably would have proceeded Christianity. Oh, my. There’s a big one over there,
right next to your feet. But you see the dough is
actually begin to develop a little bit more cohesiveness and
body at about the 20-minute mark. Are We at 20 minutes yet, more or less? Pia, did I get you? Good. 20? Oh, OK. But the total amount of
time I’ve been kneading now? Close to 20? Oh, Jesus. Sweating like a dog here. And actually, typically
what happens, too, as the dough begins to
become more cohesive, you end up having more creative
strands of dough that kind of fly in all sorts of weird directions. But this is a good experiment. I have how many more
minutes for the other turn? Now, the other problem with
this experiment, folks, is that dough B– we’ll call this
dough A. That’s my bald head, isn’t it? Oh, gee. [LAUGHTER] I got a mole. I am sweating, aren’t I? Well, you know what they
say– balds have more fun. It’s a bad joke. Bald is beautiful. It’s happening. It’s happening. I can see it. It’s a formless mass, but
it’s going to come together. It’s three, maybe four minutes
away, maybe five, 50 or 60 of these kind of things
that I’m doing to the dough. I’ve lost about 2/3 of the way of
the dough on the floor and walls. I would also recommend,
too, for the crew here, I’ll stay after and help clean as
a gesture of goodwill and charity because I feel bad that I’m making
such a mess at this prestigious school. I missed. I was trying to get you in the eye, man. Take that, gluten intolerance. So gluten intolerance– should
we talk about gluten intolerance? This is a form of gluten in– no. Did we talk about
gluten intolerance here? Do we talk about what’s unique
about gluten or bread or wheat or any of the plants
associated with wheat? It is really a special
and unique protein because of its particular
properties, not dissimilar to, as I was discussing
with Pia– but I wasn’t talking like this– with, I was
just saying, like, latex or rubber. And the reason why I say it, it
reminds me of rubber in a weird way. And actually, if you’ve ever
washed– have any of you ever washed gluten out of flour? Done a little? OK. it’s very gummy and chewy. Has anyone ever made seitan? it’s nice, right? Neat substitute. Well, I was just thinking,
I wonder if there’s a way to stabilize chemically– oh, nice. I got Peter. I got you? Good, Pete. Sorry, Peter. Sorry. I’m trying to keep it local, lower. When do I have to turn
the other dough, folks? Am I there yet? Am I past schedule? OK. I’m just hopeful that this
dough can come together before the three minutes are up. Would you ever try this at home? [LAUGHTER] Have I dissuaded you
from making a big mess? Then I also have succeeded. AUDIENCE: No way. JIM LAHEY: You would try this? You would try it? Yeah? Yeah. It’s kind of fun. I’m always tempted to have
audience participation. But I think what I’ll do
is when the dough is done, I’m going to pass the dough around. And you guys can play
with it, if you want. I don’t want to see the
dough again afterwards. Oh, gross. Look at this. [LAUGHTER] Mia, it’s true. I do make a mess wherever I go. My wife was commenting that
wherever I go, I make a mess. I mean, not metaphoric mess. I mean like an actual
physical, tangible mess. But the texture of the dough,
do you see it changing? Becoming somewhat– it’s
still not cohesive yet, but it’s beginning to web. And what you’re looking for is webbing. So the discussion on bread
and elasticity and mouth feel would be something like people
talk about bread still in terms of whether there are big holes or not. Have you heard that? You guys have the big holes in it? Ever heard that? But, I mean, it’s probably not the
most important thing about bread. The most important thing
about bread is the wheat and where the wheat came from. And unfortunately, not dissimilar
to the use of glyphosate as a herbicide on the heels
of the Green Revolution, not dissimilar– at that
point in human history, it was extremely important to use
science to solve the problem of or to capitalize on the success
humanity was having at producing food at even greater levels. And there are a lot who believe, as
do I, that at the end of the day, it was a great milestone. However, if one tried to legalize
an herbicide like glyphosate today, it would never be allowed to
be used in the marketplace because we know more
now than we did in 1971. See, the texture’s begin to
actually become a bit of a dough. All right. Am I at the three-minute mark, folks? I need reprieve. I need a break. OK. Oh, Jesus. I was gonna wipe my forehead with
my hand, but I’m not gonna do that. I’ve stepped into that one before. So I’m gonna take this
dough– this is no-knead– and just give it a couple turns. We could play, like,
Metallica over there. And then when we come to this
side, we should have, like, Bach. I was thinking of Bach. Right? Right? Right? And I can stick to anything now. It’s like if I– Jesus. I’m not even religious, but Jesus. So are we doing every 15 minutes
on those turns or every 20? And how much more time do
I have in this lecture? Because I have to time the
conclusion, the grand finale. What will the grand finale be? Yeah. So I used to do this. I swear to God, I used to do this. I would stay up all night long. I’d make four or five batches
of dough as a protean hipster. It’s like a Jackson
Pollock piece, right? [LAUGHTER] And in my little garage in
Brooklyn, I would go into Manhattan with a basket full of bread,
like a large– kind of like one of those big rattan baskets, like
the size of a coffin or something. And I would sell bread on
the streets of New York City. And that’s kind of how
my bakery was born. But I have to say, once I abandoned
this method, life became a lot nicer. However, it is a really
cool thing to see this blob become a something, which it’s
now becoming, as it really is changing. You see it changing, right? It’s really getting stickier, cohesive. I mean, it’s at its most sticky
state when it’s not cohesive, although I guess the size and
degree of suction it can create because of its texture is different. If it sticks, it sucks. If it sucks, it sticks. And I’d say we’re– I keep saying
we’re, like, five minutes away. Gross. I knew I should have been an accountant. But we’re getting there. We’re getting there. I’m not going to give up. I can’t leave here until
this is an actual dough. And I see it. I see the– I can notice
this here, these areas that are kind of sticky with stuff. But the dough is actually
beginning to adhere to itself, which is what we want,
or what I would like to see happen. How we doing mess-wise, guys? OK? OK, go. Get my head out of the way. How many minutes do I
have to go over there now? What? 10? OK, good. This has got to happen now. So I’ve been doing this for
almost 25 minutes now, right? More? AUDIENCE: More. 35. JIM LAHEY: Jesus. I shouldn’t say Jesus. I’ll say something else. Um, gee willikers. I mean, this could be accomplished
in less than three minutes in a stand mixer, believe it or
not, everything that I’m doing here. You see the dough is now
beginning to stick to itself, which is what we were looking for. On your chin. Right on your chin. Oh, I’m sorry about that. Harvard’s going to cover that. They told me. Oh, no. I feel really bad. Now I feel really bad. OK. Do not wash that sweater in hot water. It will be ruined. I’m so sorry. Now I feel really bad. You know what we should have
done is we should have planned to have, like, a Blue Man Group. Everyone should have been given a piece
of clear plastic in the front row. Hi, Pia. Pia’s my daughter. She’s there. You having fun, Pia? OK. Just distraction. But you can see the dough is
actually becoming a dough. Do not buy this book, by the
way, by Van Nostrand-Reinhold, unless you’re a masochist. (FRENCH ACCENT) Ah, but in France,
this is how they make the bread, eh? But you see how it’s really beginning
to adhere to itself or become cohesive. The issue is keeping it all together
as it begins to– oh, gross. It’s everywhere. Everywhere. I feel really bad. Sorry, guys. I do. I don’t want to make anyone’s
clothing messy other than my own. All right. Now the perspiration is
beginning so I know we’re close. There will be no moan,
though, when this is done. There will be no cry of ecstasy. There’ll be no, ah! It’s done! No, that will not happen. No, no, no. Not here. This is an experiment. Not an experiment. This is, I’d say, close to
100% hydration, if not more. This is– are you seeing the difference
in the dough, or is it my imagination? You see it, right? OK, good. But imagine if during antiquity,
the Greeks or the Romans or the Phoenicians or
the Egyptians– no wonder the Jews left Egypt if
they had to do this shit. They’d be like, I’m out of here, dude. I’m out of here. I’m not even gonna put yeast in it. Forget about it. So it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Yeah, they get– as the
dough becomes more cohesive, these pieces will fly off into,
like, probably up toward the top, I would even say. It’s quite probable. But you see it’s really becoming– ooh. Oh. I could even take some stuff
of this stuff off here. Gross. Get back in there. Back in there. And I will pass this dough
around for all of you to play with and finger at your
whatever, just to have fun, just to see that it actually did happen. Live dough. Oh, my. Get back here. Now, I could stop now and
allow the dough to sit. And it would develop a
little bit more cohesiveness. But I think that because
we’ve taken it this far, you might as well– I’m gonna
ask everyone in the front row to find seats in
the– no, just kidding. You guys seem to be having a good time. What’s a little staining? It’ll be a nice little– oh, that
was the time that that crazy guy– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] JIM LAHEY: What was that? AUDIENCE: The seats are– JIM LAHEY: Yeah, the seats are
becoming– that’s what I’m saying. They’re never going to
invite me back here. They’re never gonna invite me back. I’ll never be invited back to another
World’s Fair by my government, and I will never be invited
back to Harvard to do a lecture. [LAUGHTER] What? What happened? There’s a first time for
everything, don’t you think? But this is really becoming
a dough, as you can see. And it’s at that point, and
I don’t know what causes it. Is it the production of those–
just to sound scientific, is it the production of foils
from disulfur hydroxyl groups? Is it? Is it? Help me out, brother. Help me out. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] JIM LAHEY: Disulfides from methyls. Thank you, brother. Thank you. Is that what’s happening
chemically in the dough? What’s your name, young man? AUDIENCE: Tim. JIM LAHEY: Tim. I like your name already, Tim. Sounds like Jim. It’s a wishbone, perfect wishbone. Look at that. Look at that. And you see I’m throwing it at
this table with as much force– [LAUGHTER] –as possible. [LAUGHTER] I’m never going to be
invited back, am I? This is like– I would love
one day to be invited back. But now we know, plastic. Pia’s thinking to herself,
I am in so much trouble. Oh, my God. Sorry, Pia. That’s why, as an act of
charity and contrition, I will help clean after for my sins. I will make up for my sins. What the hell is this? Foreign matter. I don’t even want to know. It was kind of gray. Could have been something that a
professor left on this tabletop. We’re so close, guys. We are. We really are. And this guy’s leaving because he’s
like, I can’t take this anymore. I came here for a serious discussion
about dough, protein, and elasticity. And we’ve got some meshuggana
throwing dough on a table, making all sorts of inappropriate jokes. Yeah. But what I see taking place, though,
if you notice when I pick the dough up, it’s adhering to itself. And it’s actually forming good
suction as opposed to bad section. It doesn’t have this
kind of film, right? But actually, it’s beginning
to– I call it picking up clean. And when you mix dough in a
mixer, you see the same phenomenon toward the end of the
mix, which is called the pickup, which is where you have this
development of the gluten in the flour. And obviously, because of the
water ratio in this dough, it’s extreme because this is
as much water as one– I mean, if I had made a dough that
had 15% to 20% less water, I would’ve already had a
beautifully formed dough. But the objective of this exercise was
to show you the– sorry about that. Hit a bag. Was to show you the extreme,
not what you can easily achieve but what might be more
difficult to achieve. What’s unique about bread
is that you can do this. Do I need to go to the other dough yet? Am I overdue on the other dough? OK. Think I might even have it. This is, like, three cycles. I’m not doing this again
tomorrow, by the way. I got to do something, another act. I got to figure out– I’m gonna die. [LAUGHTER] Maybe what we’ll do tomorrow is
I’ll just buy a roll of– this will be funny. Yeah, we should do the same thing, but
we’ll buy a couple rolls of plastic because then the people that are sitting
in the front row will be freaking out. Like, what did we do wrong? Why you’re covering us
up with plastic for? What’s up? I don’t mind being
laughed at, by the way. As long as you’re not laughing with me. [LAUGHTER] The best line of the evening, I think. But you see, it’s actually
beginning to adhere to itself. And it’s making that noise
of a dough that’s done. And it’s achieving whetting, elasticity. Now, if we let this sit for
about 10 minutes or longer, we should be able to stretch it out
pretty long, which could actually be fun for the sake of the class. I could, for the sake of
making life easier tomorrow, just do this whole
demonstration in a mixer. Yeah? What? Oh, it’s time to turn? OK. [HUMMING] OK. Oh, gross. Oh, my God. I can see the crew here at night. They’ll be like, what is this? This guy, he ruined our day. Now we got to spend,
like, four hours cleaning. We usually come in here,
all we do is sweep up. And now we got to figure out
how do we get this stuff off. My supervisor’s gonna chew
me a new one tomorrow. And oh, my God! But I did get it out of my system. And we’re almost there. We’re almost there. We almost have a cohesive mass. But you see what I’m saying? What happens when the dough
actually becomes more formed, it does have a tendency of
flying a little bit more. And I swear to God, there is a
book that shows this step by step. I mean, it’s not as long as this. But when you’re looking at a book,
and you’re 19, 20 years old, and I’m looking at the book. I’m like, but when? How? Because it never happened. But if you just– eventually,
it will come together. Stamina alone, right? Great upper body exercise, by the way. But I think we have cohesion. We have cohesion! And I can use this to pick up
everything on the table now. Almost. See, we’re getting there. I knew it would happen eventually. Towel? Just kidding. My poor shoes. I’m gonna have to stop off at Alden
Shoes and get a nice pair of wingtips after this. Yeah, but I think we’re there. See? So now you have a cohesive mass. And actually– [APPLAUSE] I’m not through with you yet, man! You want a piece of me? But you can see it’s beginning to web. And it’s becoming very cohesive. And it probably has a little
bit to do with evaporation, that in this period of time
that I’ve been kneading, I’ve probably lost most of the dough. But, I mean, we could measure
the weight of this blob. And then we could come up with a real
estimate of how much of the dough we lost. I would think we lost about a
quarter– less than a quarter. Maybe 300 grams. Maybe 100 grams or so. So this is elastic, an
elastic, sticky mess. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE], right? Don’t do this. [HUMMING] This actually should be allowed to
rest for at least 20 minutes or longer because the dough
hasn’t kind of relaxed. But this dough, for
argument’s sake– I’ll let it sit in the bowl for five
minutes, then I’ll pass it around. And the reason why, see,
it’s completely cohesive now. And it actually picks up
cleanly from the table. It doesn’t leave a residue, or very
little residue if any residue at all, ideally. And this is definitely about
100% hydration, if not more. So a little ball here. It’s very elastic. It’s very smooth. I’ll put it in the bowl. We’ll let it sit. Oh, my God. I ruined my notebook? That was a no-brainer. And so– [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] So that’s a demonstration
on how to knead by hand in this very intensive way. But I think it’s better
to use my no-knead method. I’ve got books outside, which
are really, really cool, and including the recipe
for pizza bianca, as well. But going back to if
it sticks, it sucks. So this has more
suction or less suction. Hmm. I think it has a lot
of suction, actually. Let me see. Yes, there’s a lot of suction. But it’s not a sticky as– well, I
guess it’s as sticky as it was before. Yeah, it’s definitely stickier. But it does have a tendency of
sticking to itself, which is good. Well, if I don’t knead the dough, going
back to the mouth feel and product texture, and I use
this method of turning, I can get an identical crumb
structure and identical mouth feel, if I kind of fail to get the
dough to become cohesive, either by mixing it mechanically or
by turning it and allowing the protein molecules to kind of align themselves
from just denaturing and unraveling and kind of doing their thing naturally. The product texture tends to be cakier. It also tends to be denser. Part of it, as well, has to do
with the dough fermenting properly. I mean, fermentation plays a
huge role in product texture. And if you don’t get
fermentation on wheat– and also, another
thing, too, about wheat is that if it’s not good wheat– in
quotation marks, the word “good.” If it’s not high-quality wheat, it
might not be able to ferment that much. You can still make bread with it. But are you familiar with
tolerance, the concept of tolerance? Wheat tolerance? Well, flours are graded by the quantity
of protein that they have in them. And then they’re also graded
by the quality of the proteins. So it’s not the quantity
of protein per se that will make good bread or flour
that could be good for making bread. It’s more the quality. And the quality of the
protein’s– how would you say– resistance to fermentation is measured
by this thing called a falling number. Do you know about the falling number? The FN? So the falling number measures,
I think– if wheat, for example, is grow in Western Mass,
Mass, “Mass-a-Two-Shets.” If it’s grown in Western
Mass, and it’s a wonderful– I always used to say
“Massive Two Shits.” But, I mean, I kind of
have that in my brain. No– I like this state. It’s a nice state. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just like this weird
kind of ism that I have. So– oh, gross. I’m gonna take this
apron off at some point. I’m gonna stand away from the table. Stand away from the table. So if the wheat is ideal, and then
all of a sudden there’s a rainstorm, and it gets wet and begins
to germinate a little bit, the quality of the
protein is now degraded. So it’s not going to be as good
for breadmaking– fermentation. It can be great for breadmaking. But it just can’t undergo the
same degree of fermentation the wheat could undergo if the
wheat were like it were dry. So this is something that I think
has been a current through the ages, whereby when you buy from a
local– I mean, with bread culture, we don’t have– I mean, these are
like both white crack flour varieties. They’re not good. I mean, they’re commodity
flours, basically. This is not a mill. This is a brand. They don’t mill their own wheat. There’s no difference between this and
this, other than labeling and packaging and they contribute to No Kid
Hungry and they have the word “goodness” and “good” all over it. So this is probably a
better product placement because it’s such a strong seller. This one here is, again, the same
grade of flour, but bleached. And for all I know, they were both
made and both milled in the same plant. I mean, we don’t have a wheat culture
like we do a wine culture, for example. I mean, people wouldn’t buy wine if they
knew that or thought that it was just frozen grape juice
concentrates mixed together, and then you slap a label
on it and it’s wine. And we still live in the world
where the use value of bread has more importance than any discussion
about its aesthetic or, for example, where the grain comes from. I mean, during the colonial period
of our nation, wheat was grown here. Wheat was grown everywhere– Virginia,
North Carolina, New York state. Brooklyn, for example, had some of
the finest wheat in the colonies. Who knew? Brooklyn was like a giant
wheat field at one point. And that all changed. And it’s a good thing because a
lot of the world’s hunger issues have been resolved. But at the same time, what
we did lose with wheat was, like, where the wheat came
from, where the grain came from, that it’s not regional. Does anyone buy regional wheat here? There is a regional wheat
movement here, right? There has to be, right? Isn’t there? What? AUDIENCE: Maine Grains? JIM LAHEY: Maine Grains, yeah. Skowhegan. Yeah. So there’s a big
regional wheat area that collapsed in a town called Skowhegan,
kind of southern Maine, right? Central southern? Skowhegan. And that was on the cusp
of becoming a wheat region, I think, in the late 1890s. And then when people were
being encouraged and enticed and lured to move west, the
regional grain economy went bye-bye. And it’s only recently, in
the last 20 years or so, that there has been a re-regionalizing
and a shortening of the supply chains. It’s just that a lot of that heirloom
or boutique or regional wheat rarely sees, like, the Harvard set. I don’t think any of the bread made in
the cafeteria here is regional wheat. That may be more to do
with the fact that you’ve got to feed a lot of people, and
it ends up becoming a cost issue. But then again, it also ends up becoming
a consistency issue, as well, where to know how to work with
wheat, they can be variable based on the quality of its protein. To get a consistent end result,
you have to have knowledge. And wheat’s primary function is to
feed people, not to be like, oh! This is a loaf of bread made
from Red Fife or Turkey Red from so-and-sos farm near
Northampton, whatever. That not the kind of
conversation we have about wheat. It would be great if we did. I would love to see
that, and I could even imagine, if I don’t do any more demos,
that that could possibly happen. But anyway, I’m gonna
pass the dough around now because I wanted to let it sit
and rest and get kind of jiggly. There’s elasticity. And if we let it sit longer, it
will become even more elastic. It’s actually going to
start to fall apart now that I’ve been playing with it. But I’m gonna pass the dough. And if you guys want to– I
know there’s a lot of you here. So theme music, everyone. PIA SORENSEN: That’s gorgeous. JIM LAHEY: Yeah. PIA SORENSEN: So I propose we clap. [APPLAUSE]

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