The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough Hook Doesn't Knead

chris319's picture

Dough Hook Doesn't Knead

I wanted to automate the process of kneading bread dough so I got a Kitchen Aid K5A and a spiral dough hook. What happens is that after a few minutes of operation, all of the dough has wrapped itself around the hook which is whirling around and around with this glob of dough wrapped around it, but there is no real action on the dough. It is not being stretched or kneaded; it's just spinning around and around, wrapped around the hook as the motor gets warmer and warmer. I swapped in the "C" hook and the mixing paddle and the results are the same. I had to dump the dough  onto the counter where I did a hand knead. So much for labor savings.

What am I doing wrong?

Windischgirl's picture

and there may be a few reasons why this is happening. I've certainly had it happen in 40 yrs of baking.

1) how close is the dough hook to the base of the bowl?  You want it just to clear (less than a 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch gap).  If your machine has the head that flips up, do so; you will find a screw just at the intersection of the head and the base, which is intended to adjust the height of the beater attachments.  You can use a screwdriver or a butter knife to adjust this.

If you have the model with the lift bowl...ugh, I don't know. Check the manual?

2) what is the hydration of your dough?  Stiffer and drier doughs will do this.  It's an easy solution: turn the machine off, and using a scraper spatula, push the dough off the hook.  You may have to do this several times until the dough starts developing gluten, at which point it should knead nicely.

You can always add in 2-3 Tbs. of water to get things going as well.

3) How much dough are you making?  If you're making a small loaf (1 lb or less total weight) there may not be enough dough in the machine to make contact with the sides of the bowl.  I found the KAM K5A was able to handle up to a 3 lb dough.

I have the next model up--the 6 qt KAM--and it does a great job on bread doughs (despite sounding like the invasion of the Banshees).  However, if the yield is too small, the ingredients will just sit on the bottom.  This weekend it handled effortlessly a triple batch of cookie dough (yield 72 cookies) but I know if I had tried to make a single batch of 24, the blade would be whirring helplessly over the flour.  Ugh.

So if there isn't enough dough, it will not make contact with the sides of the bowl, and it's really the interaction between the bowl and the dough hook that does the kneading.

Try again!

RichardM98's picture

In addition to the suggested above, try starting with the Basic White Bread recipe in the KA users manual.  That is -- start with about 75-80% of the flour added to the liquid before starting the mixer and then gradually add the remaining 20-25%.  I also hold back a tiny amount of the water.  If there are a few bits of mixture on the bottom of the bowl a drop of water helps pick them up.

If you want you can stop the mixer, raise the motor and pull of dough off of the hook.  This will insert the hook in a different place in the dough. 

Note - There are two dough hooks made.  The kneading times are double for one of the hook designs. Don't worry about how warm the motor gets.  It's supposed to heat up and there is thermal overload protection built in to the mixer.

Good Luck!

Slimbo's picture

Good suggestions. In addition I find that if the dough is clinging to the hook, stop the mixer and just let the dough rest for a min or two. When it gets going again, it can often knead properly. For a wet dough I sometimes up the speed for a few seconds to force the dough off the hook. 

MANNA's picture

To really develop the dough with a KA you need to let it mix for 20 min or so. I had problems with KA really doing a good job with doughs. I bought a electrolux verona. It does a great job with doughs. Its expensive but so worth it. I considered the bosh but another baker I know bought one and has not been happy with it.

chris319's picture

I found that if the dough was too wet, too much of it would stick to the sides of the bowl where it would be untouched by the hook which does not come close enough to the sides and would have to be repeatedly scraped off and incorporated into the main part of the dough.

I added more flour so that it would form more of a dough ball. It kneaded OK at first until it wrapped itself around the hook at which time it was basically cleaning the sides of the bowl. This dough from the sides was being incorporated into the main glob and was not being kneaded. I suppose I could stop the machine, scrape the dough off the hook and restart it. Probably just as quick to do a hand knead. I don't see it coming off the hook all by itself, at least not within a few minutes.

I can't fathom hydration being so critical just to get a machine to knead dough which could just as well be kneaded by hand. I have seen videos on YouTube using this same spiral dough hook and for whatever reason the dough did not wrap itself around the hook. I've seen other videos with the same problem I'm having.

Patf's picture

I've recently started to use a Kenwood Kmix and found the same problem at first. If it sticks to the hook in an immovable lump it probably need a LITTLE more water, just a few drops at first.

As I said on another thread, it's a case of trial and error. Try different remedies, such as slower speed , less quantities, stopping the machine every 30 secs or so at first to scrape the hook, or add more water or flour.

Once you've got the best consistency, leave it to mix on slow for 5-10 minutes.

suave's picture

How much dough do you knead?

chris319's picture

Not that much. I started with 2 cups of flour and added more as I felt it was needed.

suave's picture

That indeed is not that much.  What I imagine happenned is your dough was originally too wet, or rather too wet for your comfort, so you added some flour until it felt right.  However, what you did not know, or neglected to consider, is that it takes some time for water to get fully absorbed into flour.  In fact if you just knead the dough with the hook starting from flour and water you will notice several distinctive stages.  The first is the dough coming together - it takes a little bit of time (if you don't help it) and once it comes together it may still seem to dry.  This is where inexperienced bakers jump the gun and add water.  The second stage is the initial absoption - at this point the dough suddenly relaxes and drops down.   This is where inexperienced bakers jump the gun and add flour.  At the third stage gluten starts to develop and dough finally begins to approach the desired consistency.  This is where inexperienced bakers spin the hell out of it for 30 minutes then run out and buy a $1000 mixer.

chris319's picture

The mixer never went above speed 1.

So I made the dough too dry, taking into account absorption, and it wouldn't have clung to the hook with a little more water? There is logic to that.

Again, with the dough too wet it would have stuck to the sides of the bowl and not been kneaded.

I won't be getting a $1,000 mixer. You don't have to worry about that. I would hand knead first.

Donkey_hot's picture

"The mixer never went above speed 1"

chris319's picture

I  could have gone pedal to the metal and done 2 per mfr's. recommendation. Do I really need the speed?

suave's picture

Yes.  You should really try to knead at 2 - KA manuals usually contain warnings that 1 is for mixing only.  They also warn not to go above 2, but for wet doughs 3 is typically fine, I even used to go 4 at times.

chris319's picture

I made a test dough using the portions in this video, omitting the salt and dry yeast. Now the dough is happily kneading away and not wrapping itself around the hook. This is a wetter dough than previously, and I allowed some time for water absorption. The dough is sticking to the bottom of the bowl and that's what keeps it from wrapping itself around the hook. Also throttled up to speed 2.

What's interesting about the video, besides seeing Julia again, is that they went to France to film a demo with Professor Raymond Calvel. Note that she first says to use 3 cups of flour then says, and actually measures, 3 1/2 cups. Yes, she uses baker's yeast, not starter, but she was careful to call it just "French" bread and not "sourdough". I used 1/3 more cup more water than Julia's 1 1/4 cups to account for the water she used with the yeast.