Is it possible to under-knead dough?
Yeah, it's very possible. If you don't knead enough, the gluten will not develop properly, and you'll end up with a not-so-good loaf. I almost always use the window-pane test to see how well the gluten has developed.
What about too much? I just tried out my starter and the loaves turned out dreadful. I posted some pics earlier. Think I kneaded it to death. Guess I shouldn't mess with it after it rises the first time?
Hi Steph. I just thought about what you've said here. With sourdough you really only need one bulk rise. That's the rise before dividing up the dough for shaping. You can do a bit of stretch and fold or the French Fold but careful you don't rip the dough. In my video you can see that the dough is just starting to tear. I could have done one less fold. But I am being picky. : -) Jim
Well, the starter I pulled out of the frig yesterday after my disaster has been fed twice and affectionately stirred. Should be ready shortly to try again. I have a wheat starter sitting next to it that is just about ready as well. I'm going to treat these babies as gently as babies ;-D I oh so want them to turn out. The crap from yesterday tasted so soury, so I believe the starter was just fine. Mmm. Think I even have cream cheese in the frig, maybe mix it with some chives. Yum. If it was summer, I'd have FRESH chives in my little herb garden going on on my back deck. Too bad I never have luck with herbs indoors. Wish me luck!
Most definitely..that's why the window pane test is so vital. It is so easy to do..excellent method tool! 2nd for me, look & feel..should be like satin..smooth & shiny.
I'll try that. I saw a picture of it in BBA.
Yes, it's possible to overknead as well. Overkneading can cause excess oxidation of the dough, which will produce bread that doesn't taste good at all. It can also overwork the gluten strands, causing them to rip.
You'd know about it if you over kneaded. You'd have arms like Popeye. lolJim
Also, if you feel comfortable doing so, I suggest a different method of kneading brought to my attention by Dan Lepard, the baker and author. It's produced better quality bread than any other kneading technique I've used, although I still enjoy doing a regular knead sometimes. UnConundrum, a member of this website(hope you don't mind me plugging you in here) has a recipe website and goes over a very here. The only thing that I do differently is that when working with stiffer doughs, I knead it instead of folding. Hope this helps.
No, you have seen my video. If you rest the dough , and you must rest the dough to let it rise, you need to do the smallest amount of work to a dough. You clearly have done this. You need to shape the dough properly. I don't know you've done that but I'm sure this isn't your problem with your last loaf. Steph. Forgive me for saying so but you really need to pick one person. Don't pick me I can see you don't want to. But Pick someone who as shown they know what they are talking about. Only listen to them. Don't ask questions to everyone. You'll get a whole range of replies. I've seen people in other groups answering questions the week they post. 'This is my first loaf.' Relax Steph. Take it easy. Don't worry about your bread it should be fun not a stress. It's good weather for feeding the birds anyway. : -) Don't obsess. Don't think negatively. Make notes as you go. Change one thing each time. Relax. Breathe. Have fun. Jim
I guess I've got to echo Jim's advice. Have fun. I like the idea of feeding the birds. Right now it's my dogs who eagerly run to the kitchen at the sound of my bread knife moving through a loaf!
I've had the darndest time recently with my first several batches of BBA's pain a l'ancienne - a formula everybody else seems to have absolutely no trouble with. Very frustrating. Mine were horrible - dense and compact. They were heavy breadsticks instead of the light and airy baguettes every one else was accomplishing.
I took Mountaindog's advice (thanks, again) and reduced the kneading time. Mountaindog also suggested that I treat the final dough much more gently iso as not to degas it. The results were immediately better, but I've still a ways to go.
In search of the perfect crust & crumb
I do want your advice. And in many things I do, I need different opinions, especially in something like this where there are so many schools of thought.
I must say, Jim, I have found my patience with bread baking. I'm not obsessing. Well, not much...only to the extent that I'm going to keep plugging away until I at least get a sourdough I can eat. Like I said, the last attempt tasted like sourdough, it just didn't have any of the other qualities.
Good weather? Mmm. It's sunny outside, but freezing. Calling for snow yet again this weekend. That's SIX weeks in a row since Thanksgiving. My sister has lived here ten years and hasn't experienced this before. And, we're not talking an inch or two, we're talking snow drifts in feet, with howling winds, no visibility. Closed roads. It's bad when they close the interstates to Wyoming, Kansas, and New Mexico.
So, don't stop giving advice. If I don't follow it and I fail, it's on me. I did rest the dough before I kneaded it. I can kind of do your slap and fold, but in the beginning, I can't seem to get the right consistancy. It's always so wet, but I'm afraid to put too much flour in at first. That's why I asked about mixing methods. My arm wears out using a spoon. I ordered a dough whisk. We'll see how that works when I get it.
I thought the shape was up to the baker?
The shape itself is up to the baker, but there are a few universals to good shaping, the most important of which is to create a lot of surface tension. If surface of the dough is tight, the dough will rise upward and keep its shape. If the surface of the shaped dough isn't tight enough, the dough will spread outward and lose its shape. So, whether you're making rounds, baguettes, batards, or turkeys, if you want the finished bread to keep that shape, you need to make sure the surface of the dough is tight.
Here's a good video that Floyd put together showing how to shape a batard. Even if you're not shaping batards, though, I think it illustrates how to create surface tension well.
Sadears, I agree with Jim - it is really hard to underknead dough. If you want to get big holes and a light crumb, the less you handle it the better. There is a widely held opinion that only kneading developes gluten - but this seems not to be the case - time works well too.Folding the dough gently to get a good surface tension going is the important part - not degassing if possible. Have you read Dan Lepard's book "The Handmade Loaf"? This explains the technique very clearly and concisely. But you can miss out the initial stages he suggests totally with no problems - just so long as you DO observe the folding and eventually, the forming into a ball and rotating / tucking under, to increase surface tension.Don't let any of it worry you - it's therapeutic rather than frightening!Have fun,Andrew
I only asked about underkneading because I think I kneaded too much for fear that what I had done was not enough. Now I know. Thanks for everyone's help. A little therapy never hurts, right?
Hi Steph, JMonkey and Andrew gave the same answers I would have done but here's a video that will make you smile. Boule shapingSomeone else linked this site last week with good videos. All respect to Floyd's video, with sourdough I'd be a bit gentler with the shaping. It's fine if you don't but you'll have bigger bubbles if you pinch rather then press. Oh I second the Dan Lepard advice too. Great book. Have you tried the rye crackers yet Andrew?Jim
Link doesn't work. Says page not found.