The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading question...

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blackberrygrl's picture
blackberrygrl

Kneading question...

I'm a relatively novice bread baker. I've made several succesful loaves, including a few from this website, with rave reviews from my family. Tonight, I used my classic country loaf recipe, but substituted 2 cups wheat flour for AP flour (out of 6 total). I kept everything else the same. I mixed the ingeredients (by hand) and then let it autolyse for about 20 minutes. I've been kneading, and kneading, and adding more flour, and kneading, and adding more flour, etc. for what seems an eternity. I'm just not getting a smooth, elastic dough. Is this normal for wheat bread? How do I know when to stop adding flour or stop kneading. I've heard both can make the bread tough in the end. Any help is appreciated. I finally gave in and allowing it to rise right now. I have a love/hate relationship with experimenting.

Dwu3193's picture
Dwu3193

...but that seems normal. At first, most whole wheaet breads seem like they can't absorb much water since there's not as much gluten and because the bran can sometimes cut the gluten that forms. But as time passes, the bran will soak up a huge amount of water and after the rise, you should find that the dough is much smoother and elastic than before.

blackberrygrl's picture
blackberrygrl

That's what I was hoping. It just feels so different. By the time I shaped it and put them in the oven, they were resembling what I'm used to. I'm just starting to smell them in the oven. *crossing my fingers*

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...When you have the feeling your dough mixture is spot-on but you still can not work it very well, kneading, slam it hard on the counter...try to make part of it stick to the counter then lift the other edge and pull, stretch, then fold it over and slam it down hard, keep doing this and it will become favorable in no time. (5 min or less)
If it will not stick as you slam it down use the heels of your hands to gently stretch it out, then lift one edge, fold it over, pick it up, rotate it to one of the sides and slam it down. Once you get used to this its a micacle method and a lot of fun.
I call this Stress relief.  ;-)
  All the best,
    Mark

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

Mark, my husband got me a big piece of Corian because he got tired of cleaning the wooden butcher block after I kneaded dough.  It is a breeze to clean but almost too slick.  "Heavy" doughs like rye and spelt really don't stick at all and I have found that the slap and fold method that I usually use just won't work.  If I understand you right, it works just as well to stretch it by hand and then fold it over.  Then you turn it and repeat from another side of the dough.  Is this correct?  Do you do anything any differently for dense, heavy doughs?  I'm pretty sure that the lack of trapped air in the dough is the culprit for the sub par crumb in the finished loaves since I've been using the Corian.  I'd appreciate the input since i've never heard anyone mention this problem before.  I just figured that I was doing something wrong.


Summer

sheffield's picture
sheffield (not verified)

Try roughing up your corian with a piece of rather course sandpaper.  This may help with your kneading problem

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

I'm afraid that my husband might want a D-I-V-O-R-C-E if I damaged the Corian that he spent $75 on!  Thanks for the tip, though.

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Yes indeed, many doughs will not stick.
For example my high-gluten sourdough Bagels.
That dough is almost plastic.
What I do is gently pull and stretch it, like children would with playdough.
Then fold it trapping air and yes slamming this one down will alert everyone, but its still fun.
My 4 year old will run into the room and shout Parar Pai! (Stop Pappa!)

Another thing to do with those very dense doughs is once you fold them over...
Pull the edges under, like its a big roll, do that at least twice, you will see "the stretch".

This is a test method, when it no longer breaks as you do that its ready.
  All the best,
    Mark

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

Thank you very much.  I will try the "pulling under" technique next time I have trouble because I think that one of the main problems has been not knowing when they are kneaded enough.  By the way, I am planning on trying bagels very soon in order to get into practice for the big family/friends breakfast on the morning of my sister's wedding.  I actually bought high-gluten flour just for this!

mcs's picture
mcs

Although it may be tempting to rough up your Corian surface to create more 'grip', I wouldn't do it.  Yes, many bakers prefer a butcher block surface to work on because of the friction it allows, but Formica, Corian, marble and granite are also used.  In fact, many are forced into stainless steel tables since they're common practice in restaurant kitchens.  Not ideal, but definitely workable. 
Unless your dough has lots of oil in it, or is very stiff, it should stick to a smooth surface.  Don't use any extra flour during the folding and use a metal or plastic scraper to get it off your Corian.
These are some videos that may help clarify. http://thebackhomebakery.com/Tutorials.html
The kneading and folding video shows folding a stiff dough on Formica.
The Rustic White / Kalamata video shows folding a wetter dough on a wood table.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


 

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

Thanks for the video link.  It was very informative - especially the "stretching and folding" portion.  I realized that when I fold, I pretty much just take the dough "as is" and fold it about three times.  Your method is vastly different.  I will be sure to try it next time.

benjamin's picture
benjamin

the technique mark alludes to in his post is the 'french fold'... and it is most certainly a miracle technique. I tried this once and never went back to other methods. Try googling Richard Bertinet, you will probably come across a video of him doing this.


regards


ben

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Indeed.
Just noticed I didn't get "miracle" right, these old fingers.  lol


I've got one of Richard's DVD's, highly recommend his kneading methods.

My lovely wife was all stressed out this morning, our kids were all over the place, while I was kneading a large batch for Bagels...
Told her to try this, (Richard's kneading method, on my Bagel dough)


"Feel better now?", I asked...
"Yes" she smiled.


Beat the dough instead of life's little blessings.
btw, our kids are 4(Lucas), 6(Gabriela) and 9(Samuel).
  Salute,
    Mark

benjamin's picture
benjamin

i'm surprised you have a hand free to knead with!


 


ben

ehanner's picture
ehanner

blackberrygrl.
I'm curious how your bead turned out? Was it a little tough? I didn't see your post until you were in the oven with it.


It is interesting how much your dough changed by swapping only one thing. The whole wheat flour isn't milled as fine as standard AP or bread flour, so it won't be as smooth no matter what you do. My first thought is that you might want to try letting the mix autolyse for a full hour. I guess it isn't technically an autolyse since the salt and yeast have been added. Also, I have had very good luck soaking the whole grain part of my recipe before mixing the dough ingredients. Add the 2 cups of WW flour to all of the water and mix it up, cover and wait as long as overnight. Then mix all the other ingredients in and adjust once for hydration if you think you need to. Over all you should the whole grain flour will soak up 2-3 Tablespoons more water than all AP mix.


It is important that you do develop the gluten one way or another. Slap and fold or French fold, folding twice or three times over the ferment time. One of those methods or a combination. If you don;'t develop the gluten you won't get a good rise and the crumb will be dense. Stretch until you can feel the strands pulling back at you. Not until it tears, that's to far and the bread will be tough. I hope this helps.


Eric

blackberrygrl's picture
blackberrygrl

Last night, my husband made me cut into it while it was still steamy (he can never wait) and it was very good. A little heavier than I'm used to, but I'm sure that has to do with the WW flour. This morning, it has a fine crumb and good taste. My only complaint is that it's only slightly gummy in the middle - it could've used another few minutes in the oven.


 



 



 


Thank you for all your suggestions. I never "think ahead" when I'm making bread. I want it when I want it! But I'll have to try the overnight soak method. I watched the video of Julia Child and (can't think of her name) making french batards. I slapped it down a few times, but I didn't feel comfortable with it.

pigreyhound's picture
pigreyhound

I think the loaves look great! 


I am still new to all of this too but I have had great success with the stretch and fold method. My loaves have better crumb and shape, and it isn't hard, but does require planning.  But it is a method that made a huge difference in my bread. It is easy to do and I think there are some youtube videos that explain the stretch and fold. 


Good luck!