Busby's Bakery School

The way to add seeds, cheese, olives fruit (& more) to dough

Adding seeds, olives, fruit, cheese, nuts or any other inclusion into bread dough is a fantastic way to personalise your home made range. Many breads sold in bakeries include extra ingredients like this to change up a recipe and add a little sparkle. 

But, when should you add these ingredients?

Today we are going to cover the best time to olives, dried fruit, cheese and many other additions to bread dough, how to add them and a few other pro tips I’ve used or seen.

When should I add these ingredients to the dough?

The common roadblock many bakers hit in this situation is at what point should they introduce the extra ingredients to the dough, so I thought I’d write this post to help. 

The first question you must ask is:

Will it matter if the ingredients crush?

Some inclusions such as seeds are ok if they get crushed, often breaking them into smaller pieces is preferred so they can be added to the dough at the start of kneading or after the autolyse if you plan to do one. 

The flavour from the seeds gets dispersed throughout the dough a little more if they are added at the start of kneading. Oils and flavours get dispersed, flavouring the bread throughout.

Ingredients that shouldn’t be crushed

For many ingredients we don’t want to crush them. In the case of fatty or salty additions such as cheese and sun-dried tomatoes we also need to be careful that their inclusion does not interfere with the creation of the gluten structure. 

Fat’s lubricate the gluten making it harder for the dough to form. Salt slows dough the action of fermentation.

Delaying these ingredients is really helpful, let’s take a look at when is the right time to add ingredients like this.

When should extra ingredients be added to the dough

For ingredients that can be crushed such as some seeds and grains, these can go in to the mix at the start of kneading, or after the autolyse. For other ingredients, we want to wait until the gluten has developed until we introduce them to the dough.

Choosing the right time to add these ingredients demons on the method we are following.

Here's the main three methods used to make bread:

Fast bread

When the dough has a long knead time, it will have a fairly quick bulk fermentation. In this case, add the ingredient at the end of mixing by slowing down the mixer speed to avoid the ingredient breaking.

Standard bulk fermentation

If using prefermented flour, the mixing time is reduced to prevent the flour becoming over oxygenated. In this instance the bulk fermentation is a medium length, typically 3-5 hours.

If using a method similar to this I have found the most success is when adding the extra ingredients after an hour of bulk fermentation. I’ll add them to the dough when I do a stretch and fold.

If using the autolyse method check the instruction in the extended bulk fermentation column when using the table below.

Extended bulk fermentation

Many sourdough bakers use the "no knead" Tartine method to make bread. This way removes kneading from the method instead favouring multiple stretch and folds in quick succession to develop the dough. After 2-4 hours of regular stretch and folds (every 20 minutes or so), the dough is left to bulk ferment either in the fridge or on the counter overnight. 

It’s at the second last of the series of stretch and folds that the extra ingredients should be added. This allows two folds to integrate the ingredients in the dough whilst enough time for the dough to mature before the addition.

When to add extra ingredients timeline

As with pretty much everything in baking, the rules can always be broken. But here’s a table showing when is generally the best time to add the majority of ingredients:

Ingredient

Fast Bread

Standard Bulk Fermentation

Extended Bulk Fermentation

Olives

End of mixing

1 hour in to bulk fermentation

2-4 hours in to bulk fermentation

Cheese (large chunks)

Before shaping

Before shaping

Before shaping

Cheese (small pieces/gratings)

End of mixing

End of mixing

During first stretch & fold

Fine Seeds

Start of mixing

Start of mixing

After autolyse

Large Seeds

End of mixing

End of mixing

After autolyse

Nuts

End of mixing

End of mixing

After autolyse

Chilli Flakes

Start of mixing

Start of mixing

After autolyse

Sun-dried Tomato

End of mixing

1 hour in to bulk fermentation

2-4 hours in to bulk fermentation

Malted Wheat Flakes

Start of mixing

Start of mixing

Before autolyse

Bran

Start of mixing

Start of mixing

Before autolyse

Cheese Topped Bread

When Shaping

When Shaping

When Shaping

Potatoes

Start of mixing

Start of mixing

After autolyse

Oats

Start of mixing

Start of mixing

After autolyse

Hardy Herbs

End of mixing

End of mixing

First stretch & fold

Herb Leaves

End of mixing

1 hour in to bulk fermentation

2-4 hours in to bulk fermentation

Chocolate Chips

End of mixing

1 hour in to bulk fermentation

2-4 hours in to bulk fermentation

Soft Fruit

Before shaping

Before shaping

Before shaping

Dried Fruit

End of mixing

1 hour in to bulk fermentation

2-4 hours in to bulk fermentation

Techniques used to add extra ingredients

Adding the ingredient at the start of mixing

For the ingredients that go into the dough at the start of kneading it’s self explanatory, you just add them to the bowl along with the other ingredients. It is wise to check the hydration of the dough throughout the kneading process to ensure the ingredient doesn’t absorb or leak too much moisture.

At the end of kneading

For items that are added at the end of mixing the speed of kneading is slowed down and the ingredient is added. Kneading should still be kept short, just one or two minutes to prevent the ingredient from being crushed. 

If using a dough mixer it may have a bowl rotation change button which can be used halfway through. This button switches the direction that the bowl moves which helps the ingredient evenly disperse. 

If after this time the dough is not evenly distributed the dough can be folded on the table.

During the bulk fermentation

If the ingredient should be added near the start of the bulk fermentation or the end, the method is just the same.

Incorporating the ingredient

Flatten the rested dough on the table as wide as possible. Leave the dough to relax for 5-10 minutes and come back and stretch it out again. 

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Place the ingredient on the top half of the dough and fold the bottom section of the dough over the top to sandwich the ingredient.

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Stretch the left hand side and fold it over itself to the middle.

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Pull the right side over to make a cube like shape. Push the down down to flatten it slightly. Place back in the bowl or leave on the table to continue bulk fermentation.

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For the best incorporation:

Repeat this folding routine 10 minutes to hour later to help the ingredients disperse evenly.

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Adding the ingredient before shaping

At the end of bulk fermentation complete the above method of incorporating the ingredient. Wait ten minutes and repeat the folding process as described and divide and pre-shape straight away.

Top tips for adding extra ingredients to the dough

When I say extra ingredients, I mean ingredients that do not dissolve into the dough and that don't categorise in the flour, water, salt, yeast, fat or sweeteners areas of ingredients.

  • Some ingredients, such as seeds, dried fruit, grains and nuts, will soak water up. More water should be added to the mix to compensate and the ingredients are usually best added early in the bulk fermentation or at the end of mixing.
  • If the ingredient will absorb water, consider soaking them the night before in a small amount of water or alcohol. This technique is called a soaker and can improve the taste and texture of the ingredient included. 
  • Olives and other ingredients that are soaked in water or brine can be slippery to be incorporated. A small handful of flour can help incorporation though adding flour late on is never preferred. Introduce these ingredients early on after mixing and give them time to naturally disperse in the dough.

Hopefully you have everything you need to know about adding extra ingredients to your dough now. Is there anything that I have missed? If so, get in touch and let me know how I can help.

If you liked this article I'd appreciate it if you can share it with your bread baking friends on social media:

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