Hand kneading and bread making problems....
I am a beginner of beginner bakers, very new to baking bread.
There was not a single time I succeeded with a bread recipe that requires anything longer than 5 minutes of kneading.
I was able to produce pretty good, eatable bread with Bread Bible's Pullman loaf sandwich bread recipe that was posted on this site, but that recipe required only about 5 minutes of kneading.
Here's the thing: I do use a scale, I measure everything correctly, follow the recipe as best as I could, but I still end up with really bad-smelling, rock-hard bread. Why???
I do know that I have NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS "TO KNEAD UNTIL GLUTEN FORMS."
I've watched countless number of youtube videos about kneading, kneading techniques, hand kneading... but I still fail to bake a loaf of nice bread.
The funniest part about my bread making is that when I use no-knead recipes or recipes requiring very little kneading such as Peter Reinhart's stretch and fold technique, my bread comes out really nicely. Not the most perfect artisan bread, but really good and definitely tastey. WHY????
I really wanted to demystify why I am failing so miserably with hand kneading.
And no, I can afford neither KitchenAid nor a bread machine, and even if I could manage to buy one, there is no room for it/them.
Here's what I have done when the recipe calls to "knead until gluten develops:"
I follow the recipe to the tee, and the start kneading it for the specified amount of time (IF specified, which is usually 10-20 minutes). Some recipes tell me to knead, stretch the dough and pull it toward me, and smash the dough on the work surface, and I've followed all those methods of kneading as best as I could. I cut out a small piece and try to stretch it and see if it would stretch into a thin film and not rip. But whenever I try that, the small piece of dough would just rip as soon as I try to stretch it out into a small thin rectangle. So I almost always freak out and knead 5 more minutes, but it makes no difference. Then I let the dough sit in a bowl covered loosely with a clip wrap until the dough doubles or triples, but the dough never doubles or triples. (And yes, I used very fresh yeast...) And by the time I get the dough to the second rise in a loaf tin, the dough smells like sour alcohol like rice wine gone bad. I bake the bread, and it comes out tough and hard, with really bad sour alcohol smell to it that wouldn't go away.
And I do have a convection oven/microwave thing that burns and dries up cookies and brownies and bakes bread in less than half the time called for. Last time I somewhat successfully baked sandwich bread using the Bread Bible recipe, the recipe called for 425F for 1 hour baking, and I reduced the temp to 200C, and after 30 minutes, the crust was really dark brown bordering burned and it smelled a bit burned, although the inside was light, soft and fluffy. But that is besides the point of kneading I am sure.....
So let me summarize my "hand kneading problems" and bread making questions:
1. What does it really mean to "knead until gluten develops"? Why can't I, after kneading 10-20 minutes, get my dough to be whatever it should be so when I cut a small piece and try to stretch it, it stretches into a thin flim through which you can see your fingerprint (like some people have demonstrated on their youtube videos about hand kneading)?
2. Can I use a recipe that calls for KA kneading or bread machine and simply replace the machine kneading and rising work with hand kneading and old-fashioned at room temperature rising?
3. Can I just use stretch-and-fold technique or Dan Lepard's almost no-knead method or simply no-knead method instead of traditional kneading when trying to knead and bake a bread from any bread recipe? Or are those kneading (or no-knead) techniques only for recipes developed for those techinques? Would using stretch-and-fold technique in a bread recipe that calls for traditional kneading or KA kneading leave me with bread with huge holed crumbs like ciabatta bread?
4. Why does my dough (and the finished baked bread) almost always stink like sour alcohol? Did I do something wrong with the kneading? (I can only think of kneading as my problem because I always measure the ingredients with my scale, use fresh ingredients, etc.)
5. Some of the Korean recipes tell me to sift bread flour, put it in a large bowl, and then put on top of the flour instant dry yeast, sugar, and salt separately. So on top of the flour in a bowl, there would be three small mounds of dry yeast, sugar, and salt separately. And then milk + whisked egg would go in and the dry and the wet ingredients would be mixed. I did follow that, but I've noticed that bread recipes I got from online or from Western recipe books wouldn't do this. Would it matter to whisk all the dry ingredients and the pour in the wet ingredients and mix and knead like I was told to do with the Bread Bible's sandwich bread recipe?
6. Some homebakers that I saw from youtube videos told me that they never really measure their ingredients when baking a loaf of bread because they "know how the dough should look and feel." What does that mean? How should the dough look and feel? Does this mean that if they know how wet and smooth the dough should look and feel, then they could create their own recipe and add butter, sugar, milk and other ingredients and bake bread to their own liking? HOW??
I know I've asked a lot of questions, but trust me, that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many questions I have about baking.... I just don't want to fail all the time when baking bread, and I want to know the world of zen-kneading as some bakers talk about. And I want to be a happy home baker who could create nice-tasting healthy bread without fancy, expensive, bulky machines... I live in a country where there are no pizza or bread stones available, KA is just being introduced, and having and using an oven is for almost professional bakers.
So please bear with me, share your wisdom, and help me out! I really want to bake breads at home.... with available resources.....