autolyse [auto-lize] noun
A technique developed by French baker Raymond Calvel and used by many artisanal bread bakers. It describes a rest (typically 15 to 30 minutes) after the flour and water are first combined to make dough. Different bakers rest the dough at different times, sometimes after yeast, sugar and/or salt are added, sometimes before. The main point is that the water has a chance to be absorbed by the flour, giving the mixture a head start and requiring less mixing later on in the process. The autolyse method ultimately leads to a better structure within the bread. Some bakers say it even affects the final color and flavor of the crumb and crust, the rest promoting a more golden crumb and richer flavor.