The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tuscan Bread: Kneading issues?

SaraBClever's picture

Tuscan Bread: Kneading issues?

Hi all!

Have gotten some good advice here in the past so will see what you think about my recent attempt at Peter Reinhart's Tuscan Bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I have generally not had problems in the past getting a smooth enough dough using either hand kneading or my kitchenaid.  I tried to make the Tuscan Bread and followed the instructions in the book for mixing in the kitchenaid.  after his recommended time it was not at all as smooth as it should be--in fact the dough wasn't really being kneaded as it was really just too stuck to the dough hook.  So I figured, I'll finish it by hand, it shouldnt' take too long as it's already gotten a good amount of kneading in the machine.

As I kneaded it got better, but even after 20 minutes it was nowhere close enough!  I let it sit and re-knead it (hoping the "autolyze" woudl kick in) and while that helped as well, it still wasn't enough.  I finally gave up and just baked it but of coruse the results were not right at all--not airy but dense, which was not how it should be.  (By the way, Reinhart says you only need to knead by hand for 10 or so minutes.  I know I am out of practice hand kneading, but this was just ridiculous).

Any ideas what the problem was?  I use King Arthur flour and bread flour strength, as recommended.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It sounds dry.  Flours will vary a little bit.  Welcome to TFL!  I'm into avoiding kneading as much as I can.


ananda's picture

Hi SaraBClever,

I'm not familiar with the Reinhart formula, but I have made a lot of Pane Toscano in the past.

Traditionally, this dough is salt free.

Amongst a number of other crucial functions, salt is important in that the sodium ions toughen up the gluten in the dough.   This means that dough made without salt will become very sticky, very quickly, when mixing.

In terms of dough quality, and "machineability", omitting salt has inherent difficulties.   You can add to that the tendency for the fermentation to race ahead, as salt inhibits yeast activity.

This is a traditional bread, so I'm not having a "knock" at salt-free bread.   I'm just pointing out there are inherent difficulties working with this method, and you have to be aware of all the difficulties in order to make the bread successfully.

Very best wishes


SaraBClever's picture

I had totally forgotten I posted this question.  Maybe I should take your reply as some sort of good luck sign however:  I am about to make it again for the BBA Challenge (just baked my Swedish Limpa today).  I have not been excited about its imminent arrival in my lineup, but maybe it will turn out this time.  I should make sure to have some olive tapenade or pestos on hand though--something to counteract the lack of salt.

We'll see how it goes!  Thanks again!