Well known among avid bakers, autolyse is a process of mixing water and flour in ways that activate enzymes that degrade proteins and soften gluten, in effect pre-kneading the dough. While adding steps, it actually shortens the baker's work, making for a more manageable extensible dough and better bread.
A recent article on autolyse in Jarkko Laine's online Bread Magazine magazine jogged my memories of baking school lectures, and inspired me to review my own usage of this bread baking step, the pay offs being more perfect crumb and crust. Currently I've found negatives and pluses in the local flour I'm using with this technique. In future posts, I will report back on the effects, good and bad.