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Kneading with a Bread Machine

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chris319's picture
chris319

Kneading with a Bread Machine

When kneading bread dough with a stand mixer and dough hook, one often encounters one of two common problems: dough climbing the hook, and dough riding the hook; the dough wraps itself around the hook and goes for a ride around the bowl without being kneaded.

My question is, how well does a bread machine handle bread dough kneading? Most bread machines have a "dough only" mode and they use a much different mechanism than a stand mixer. Obviously there is no hook to climb in a bread machine, but how does a machine deal with the second problem, that of wrapping itself around the paddles and being pushed around on the bottom of the chamber? One factor to consider is that the shape of the bread chamber is square. Paddles rotating in a circular motion may encounter some resistance if the dough assumes the square shape of the chamber.

How well do bread machines knead dough? Are they disappointing or an undiscovered breakthrough in kneading technology?

Antilope's picture
Antilope

I throw everything in the bread machine and let it mix and knead. It does a good job. I use it to knead dough for sourdough, light wheat, 100% wheat, French bread, Vienna bread, Kaiser rolls, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon swirl bread, etc.

I've owned about 5 different bread machines over the past 20 years. The first 4 were single mixing paddle models. The latest is a dual paddle Zojirushi Virtuoso. Earlier I owned a West Bend, Welbilt, Sunbeam and Cusinart. All of them did a good job of kneading and baking (for a bread machine). None of them broke, I just wanted to try something different each time.

The single paddle models, from what I remember, beat with the single paddle and push the dough around the square pan, and kind of beat the dough into the corners and sides of the pan. That's how they knead. They knead about 20 minutes and a white dough comes out silky smooth.

The Zo with two paddles pushes the dough back and forth between the two paddles, every minute or so, it reverses direction. The paddles both spin together, the same direction. That and the dough also being beaten against the walls and corners of the pan accomplishes the kneading. A white dough also comes out silky smooth in the Zo. The dough would pass a windowpane test with either type of bread machine. It kneads for 19 minutes, but there are programming modes that allow you to vary the time. When you open the lid of the Zo when its running, it pauses (like opening the lid of a washing machine on spin cycle).

I usually try to aim for a hydration around 60%. A dough you could easily knead by hand, not too sticky and not too dry. If I'm going to add oil or butter, I let the gluten develop first and add the butter or oil in the last 5 minutes of kneading.

The limitation is the bread machine capacity, usually one 2 lb loaf, 500 or 600 grams of flour. If you are just baking for yourself or a small family, that's usually enough.

You can get a used bread machine at a garage sale or second hand store for probably $5. Just make sure it has a separate dough cycle. 

chris319's picture
chris319

If the Zo does such a good job of kneading then why bother with a mixer at all for a medium-size loaf? See where I'm headed with this?

I should add that I'm not making bagels for a family of 12. My basic recipe calls for 1 1/2 C of flour so capacity would be a consideration.

I recently changed the hydration of my dough. It is now more slack and I'm getting tired of scraping dough off the dough hook of my KA every 10 seconds.

 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

So we have both. Sometimes I feel like being more hands on, and use the mixer, sometimes I want something with less effort, so I use the bread machine to knead. The oven does the best job baking, but sometimes I'm lazy and let the bread machine do everything.

I usually am only making one loaf of bread. My typical recipe uses 500 or 600 gm of flour for bread, bagels, etc. Fits a bread machine dough cycle perfectly.

chris319's picture
chris319

Thanks for the advice on Zo. I'm going to start looking.

I would use the dough mode and bake in a roaster oven, which I like.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

The Zojirushi, with its complicated sensor electronics, would probably be more energy efficient than the roaster oven. And the new Zoji models have heating elements in the lid as well, for very even browning. With all its various settings, I'd hazard it would excel your roaster oven, which was just not designed for baking breads, despite your ingenious modifications.

Were I living somewhere without a gas oven, a bread machine would be a no brainer, as opposed to baking in an electric range. Where I am now though, electricity is expensive and gas is cheap, which keeps me from purchasing the Zojirushi and looking at dedicated mixers. Hard choices out there.

Hope you come up with a solution to all your baking needs, Chris.

chris319's picture
chris319

I won't be baking in the bread machine, just kneading. Baking in a bread machine is like using a loaf pan; the crust doesn't come out crisp..

The ROASTER oven has not been modified and does an excellent job of baking -- no burnt bottoms -- and uses a lot less juice than a big oven.

The TOASTER oven has been modified and, having tried several configurations, is the least optimal.

I've been taking measurements the past few days and the differences are dramatic. It's all about the volume being heated. The thermal insulation of a big oven helps, but the huge volume is very wasteful for a loaf of bread or a pan of biscuits.

A stand mixer is designed to handle everything from egg whites to bagel dough and does a so-so job of kneading, so I'm looking into a bread machine to do the kneading.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Which roaster oven did you get, Chris? Sounds like a good alternative to baking in a huge electric range, that's for sure. 

As to stand mixers, yeah, most of them kinda suck at kneading dough. But there are a few on the market that quite capable, though they mostly cost more than the Zorirushi. But if you can get a good price on that Bosch Compact, I think it would be a much more versatile machine for you than the Zo, as well as cheaper. No one seems to complain about its kneading ability.  BTW, where do you live? Because if you have 220V there, you'd be able to get a 600 watt model with the stainless steel bowl at a very reasonable price.  I'd jump on it myself if I had 220!

chris319's picture
chris319

I have an 18-quart Oster roaster oven. It was on clearance locally for $20. In the interest of science, advancement of the cause of energy efficiency, etc, I've got a 6-quart on order. It should be big enough for a boule or even a batard. The 18-quart is large, much bigger than needed for a loaf. It will fit a 9" x 13" quarter sheet, however. And best of all, no more burnt bottoms! I make biscuits with garbanzo bean flour and I've found that bean and nut flours are much less forgiving of a hot baking surface.

In addition to bread machines I'm looking into food processors. People use them to knead dough, apparently successfully.

I am in California and have 110 V.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Yeah I've been looking at food processors as well. Actually used to have a really good one, the Braun K-1000, which came with a separate mixing bowl and a dough hook similar to the "European" style one on the later Bosch Concept, a bit better though I think because the Braun also had fins. Food processor part was the best, mixer bowl only about 4 quart and supposedly capable of 4k dough. Always did a perfect job on the 2-6 lbs I'd usually process, lasted 14 years before I blew out the fuse (not the motor.) Unfortunately Braun no longer manufactures that model for the American market, they are available only in 220V and while they have been somewhat improved over the original, are no longer competitively priced. You might get okay results kneading dough with some other food processor, even Braun has a new el cheapo model for sale here that comes with a plastic dough paddle. Probably capable of two pounds max, I'd guess, and the food processor part is nothing to drool over. Other FPs that are supposedly dough worthy only come with a chopping blade, and while many claim that works fine it certainly wouldn't be my first choice. I actually have a 450 watt B&D processor that came with a paddle, and it is entirely incapable of kneading even the smallest amount of dough before starting to smoke. Not a problem for me, only bought it to make hummus, which it just barely manages. Another thought, were you to get a Zo, you could use it to bake your loaf on the light setting, then finish it of in the Oster you already have, for a crisp crust. Probably more energy efficient than baking in the Roaster from start to finish.

chris319's picture
chris319

I have a food processor attachment for my Oster blender and just ran a simulation using 1 cup of flour and some water. It kneads using an odd slicing action. I don't understand how that develops gluten, but you wind up with shreds of dough which you have to manually incorporate into the dough ball due to this slicing action, and it does make the dough noticeably warm as they say.

Mike Jordan's picture
Mike Jordan

I've used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer a number of times and yes, the dough rides up the bread hook and clings to it, but while it's doing that, it's mixing in the flour that is left on the sides and bottom and getting beat against the side of the bowl. The few times it's really clung to the hook was when it was to dry and adding just a bit of water took care of that.  What I like about the hook is that when I'm done, I lift the machine and it usually just takes a little nudging of the dough and it slides right off the hook with not a lot of dough stuck to it. I like the stand mixer over the bread machine because I can make more dough at one time and it's easier to see how the dough is doing.  With that said, I think the stand mixer is over kill and to expensive just for occasional bread. Just stirring everything with a Danish pastry stirrer and then the rest by hand doesn't take a lot longer than using the stand mixer. But since we bought it, I use it when I can so it doesn't collect dust like our bread maker. :D

Mike

hamletcat's picture
hamletcat

I have had success with dough's as long as the hydration is high enough.  Also some types of flour seem to absorb more water than others.  I use my bread maker all the time, I am just careful with the amount of water in case the dough is too stiff.  The other thing is that the original dough recipe is 3 1/4 c. of flour with about 1 1/4 water.  I am careful not to make a dough that would exceed that in volume.  I don't know how the motors are on the bread makers compared to the stand mixers.

chris319's picture
chris319

The Zojirushi arrived today.

It makes a wonderful dough ball with well-hydrated dough. There is no climbing or riding a dough hook because the kneading paddles are immersed in the dough. There is no need to scrape moist flour off the inside of a bowl with a spatula. The maximum amount of flour any of the recipes calls for is 4 3/4 cups. There is no recipe for bagel dough in the manual. The horizontal orientation of the loaf pan makes it easy to retrieve the dough ball.

I'm not doing cake mixes, cookies, bagels, whipping cream or beating egg whites, so I'm not sure what I need a KitchenAid for.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Congrats on your aquisition, Chris.  Have you tried baking with it yet, or are you going to be stubborn and continue only to use the Oster? ;-)

Just snagged a used Braun 5-in-1 thingy on eBay because I also do bagels, cakes, cookies, and meringues as well as coleslaw, b&b pickles, hummus and squishees. Been a while since I've had an operable unit of these, am curious to see whether it will knead dough as proficiently as I've learned to with the hand-cranked Presto.

Chris, we need to hold a bake-off, pit our respective devices against each other's.  :)  

Hope you get a lot of good use out of the Zo.

chris319's picture
chris319

For sourdough you can't get a crisp crust in a bread machine or loaf pan, and the crumb turns out a bit cakelike. So I'll bake in anything but the Zo.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Chris, I'd be interested in how your new Zo handles SD. BTW, which model did you get? Imagine you can program it both to knead and proof, without baking? Also, you mentioned it can produce a well hydrated dough. Could it handle anything as slack as in a no- knead recipe — or would that just defeat the purpose of developing the gluten in a machine?

Am very interested because have found that the equipment employed determines what kind of dough can be turned out, almost regardless of technique. For example, a Danish dough whisk is great for throwing together a NK recipe but you wouldn't attempt bagels with it; likewise a hand cranked kneader can handle a mid to stiff dough but is kind of a waste of time on slack, and is not very effective for incorporating ingredients from scratch. Electric mixers also seem to have their own optimum ratios for various ingredients while they are great for starting from scratch, they won't develop a dough ball if it's too wet, and will just quit if the mix is not hydrated enough — so you can forget about bagels (I know you already have!, but that how I burned out my last Braun.)

Please keep us posted as to how your Zo loaves bake in the Oster, thanks!

chris319's picture
chris319

I'm not planning to bake again until next week. I made one test dough ball consisting of 1 1/2 C AP flour and 1/2 C water. That's 60% hydration I believe. I use a liquid starter so that will add a bit more moisture and I'll see how the dough ball turns out when starter is added. I've had to adjust the hydration of my recipe so I'm still working on it. I may have to add a TB of flour to the 1 1/2 C. Yesterday's dough ball was a bit shaggy at first so I added 2 tsp more flour and re-kneaded it with the machine. It came out well.

I had been having rise problems with my loaves. Turns out I had messed up the portions and had to get out the digital scale and accurately re-weigh everything. I was using not enough water and a bit too much salt. The dough had been about 40% hydration when I was mixing it with the KA.

I looked at the Julia Child video on French bread again and plan to take a tip from her: when combining the ingredients, push them around a bit with a spatula to do a light pre mix and let it rest for two minutes while the water is absorbed.

For proofing sourdough I won't be using the machine either. The big oven is my proofing box and it has a thermostatically-controlled light bulb in it. The thermostat has a temperature sensor which I stick right into the dough to obtain the actual dough temperature. So I'm not using any of the machine's timed functions other than to knead, which it excels at. Unlike the Breville machine, I cannot set a proofing temperature (that I can see) on the Zo. However, the Zo has the dual reversing paddles. The Breville has just one paddle.

shastaflour's picture
shastaflour

...in the Zo as I type. It's a wondrous thing. (My Zo was a blessed find from the thrift store -- an older model that was apparently rarely used.) If I remember correctly, however, the newer two-paddle Zos can handle kneading two loaves' worth of dough at one time on the dough setting. You'd want to read your manual to double check that. (We originally had the two-paddle model, then sold it after purchasing an Assistent mixer. I found the older Zo later and picked it up just because it was too good a deal to pass up and I thought it might come in handy once in a while.)

I do greatly appreciate the Assistent, and for quantity not much can beat it, but sometimes it's just terribly convenient to knock out one loaf of bread without much user involvement (except for measuring out ingredients, panning and baking.)

chris319's picture
chris319

In the Zojirushi's so-called "Home Made" cycle there is no control over any of the temperatures, not even the "Light", "Medium" and "Dark" settings of other cycles. There are Rise1 and Rise2 at "about' 91F and Rise3 at "about" 95F and the bake temperature is "about" 248F to 302F.

I proof at 86F and bake at 425F. IMO the Zo is useless for serious bread making but it does a heck of a job mixing and kneading. For casual bread making there are other machines available for much less new and even less at second-hand stores, yard sales, etc.

Here is a quick comparison at today's prices:

Zojirushi Virtuoso: $252.95 on amazon.com

Ankarsrum AKM 6220: $799.95 on amazon.com and on ebay.com (no cheap DLX's on ebay)

You could buy 3 Zo's for the price of one Ankarsrum and have money left over.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Wow, it seems everyone is so impressed with the Zojirushi's kneading function! Guess having the two paddles in opposition must be very effective. Can anybody here say how it stacks up against the Bosch Compact? Because, despite selling here in the States for about three times as much as overseas (and coming with inferior components to boot) the Compact is still only about $200, as compared to like $250 for the Zo. Plus the Compact can handle over double the load of the Zo, and can be outfitted with all sorts of attachments useful for baking and cooking. So, if one were not going to use the Zojirushi for either proofing or baking, wouldn't the Bosch be the better choice between new-in-box devices? Unless the Zo were so much better at kneading than the Compact, could that really be so?!

 

chris319's picture
chris319

I don't think you can compare them directly. One is a general-purpose mixer and can be used for anything from meringue to bagel dough. The other is dedicated to simple bread making. I chose the Zo because a bread machine takes a different approach to dough kneading than a general-purpose mixer.

The Zo's paddles do not work in opposition. They both turn in the same direction and go into reverse after a time.

If I were choosing a bread machine to acutally make bread, I would look into something cheaper and more flexible such as a West Bend high-rise, a Breville or a DeLonghi. They were all on my short list.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

But I find the PDF copy more useful. Here's a link to the e-copy of the recipe / instruction manual:

http://www.zojirushi.com/servicesupport/manuals/manual_pdf/bb_pac20.pdf

chris319's picture
chris319

For reasons known only to Zojirushi engineers, the Virtuoso heats the dough during the knead cycle. WTF??? This can potentially affect dough hydration and causes the dough to dry out on the inside surface of the bread pan, which becomes warm.

It is already back in the box and is going straight back to amazon.com.

I have choice words for Zojirushi and their bread machines but I'm not allowed to use that kind of language on this forum.

You can cross Zojirushi off your list.

mariana's picture
mariana

Of course it heats the dough, both due to the proximity of the motor to the bread pan and due to the friction factor during mixing itself. 

The instruction booklet for Zo asks for ice cold water (40F/4C) for that same reason. And they assume that the bread maker is standing in a rather cold room, about 15-18C/60-65F. This is a Japanese machine made for Japanese home environment (envision paper walls, no heating : ). In any case, water no hotter than 10-15C in a very cold kitchen environment. Ice cold water, if room temperature is above 21C.

So that starting with cold dough in the beginning, by the end of mixing you have a perfect ball of dough with proper temrperature for active dry yeast activation and fermentation, i.e. 32C. That same temperature is appropriate for sourdough (lactic acid fermentation) as well. 

chris319's picture
chris319

Chris, one of those Universal mixers with the SS bowl is on eBay Buy It Now for $271.99 after shipping.

Thanks a million for the tip, andychrist! I just did a "buy it now" on it and amazon.com has already refunded me for the Zojirushi (good riddance) about 30 minutes after I dropped it off at the UPS place! With shipping this will be less than I paid for the Zo. Do I owe you a finder's fee?

It is a Bosch Universal UM3, apparently the predecessor to the Universal Plus. Best of all, it has the stainless steel "dough bowl" seen in the YouTube video. I paid $272 -- the bowl alone goes for $235 new.

Thanks again! It was real nice of you to pass that tip along!

andychrist's picture
andychrist

But one of those SS bowls is available Used on eBay right now, BIN Free Shipping for $99.99.

Bosch Stainless Steel Bowl And Dough hook

Still you got a good deal, that Universal you scored looked to be in mint condition, from the pics, and it came with a blender!

Hope it works out for you.

jkandell's picture
jkandell

I used my cheap single-paddle Oster for many years just for the kneading. I'd go 10 minutes for white flours, 20 minutes for whole grains.  It worked terrific for dough that were not too heavy or too thin.  It didn't work well for 100% rye--but then nothing does.  

Three big advantages are (1) you can use high hydration and not be tempted to add more flour and just let it do it's thing and then see if the dough really needs flour. (2) They're also really nice for proofing: just turn off the power and let the dough sit. The non-stick pans are great for that.  I often would even mix the preferments in the pan and layer the final flour atop like a blanket, so I wouldn't have to measure again after pre-fermentation the next day. (It's satisfying to watch the preferment bubble through.) (3) The dough doesn't overheat like in a stand mixer and is closer to hand kneading.

I don't use the bread machine often these days, found it was just as easy to stretch and fold with less noise.  But I still think it's a great way to mix dough,