The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading

bobku's picture
bobku

Kneading

I have read that if your dough rips apart instead of streching ( window pane) you should add some liquid. I have also read that it needs more kneading how do I know which to do. When should I knead more and when is it just to dry?


Thanks

gothicgirl's picture
gothicgirl

1.  What is the hydration of the dough? 


2.  What is the recipe?  Is it sandwich bread, sourdough?


3.  Are you hand kneading or machine kneading?


Unless I am making a high hydration bread (anything over 70%) I find that ten minutes on a stand mixer on medium speed with the dough hook will get me the proper gluten development.  If the dough has proper hydration, and is mixed at the proper temp, then you should not have a problem.


Also, you may be overmixing.  If you knead too much you can over develop the gluten which will tighten up and cause the dough to appear ripped.  That happens just before the gluten breaks.  Of course, you have to do quite a bit of kneading to have that happen.


If I see your recipe I could give you a better answer.  I'm also sure there are bakers here who have better answers.  :)

bobku's picture
bobku

I'm making bagels and kneading by hand they come out fine. I'm just confused about how you can determine wether dough is to dry or just needs more kneading


 


 


***Dough:***
1 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115*F / 45*C )
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons malt syrup
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (more if needed)

gothicgirl's picture
gothicgirl

I kneaad it for three minutes and check.  If they dough is high hydration this does not count.  I touch it.  If it sticks to my fingers, it may be too wet.  If it still has raw flour it is too dry.  It is is tacky, but no dough clings to my fingers, it is just right.


Again, that is a rule of thumb ... all recipes are different, but for bagel dough, look for that after three minutes. 


 

arzajac's picture
arzajac

Your question is how to tell the difference between a dough that is too dry between a dough that is underdeveloped.


Without weighing out your ingredients, you will not be certain of the hydration level.  And even experienced bakers would have a hard time telling if the dough is wet enough until it is properly worked and the ingredients are well distributed.


That being said, it doesn' take that long for the dough to come together.  If all the ingredients are well incorporated and you have kneaded for another minute or two and the dough is too crumbly, then it's probably too dry.


So just keep kneading until the texture stops changing (maybe two minutes) and then reassess.  Add water if needed.


I highly recommend Stretching-and-folding instead of kneading, too, even for stiff doughs.


 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Witness-No KNead Bread and Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. There is no kneading-just mix and sit-in these recipes and the gluten forms just fine.


After my journey with bread the last year, I believe kneading is overrated. If the flour has an adequate protein level in it, it will come together easily. Endless kneading is usually not required. Some kneading or stretch and folding helps align the gluten and shaping the loaf is important to the outcome. Aslo the flour and other ingredients have to be uniformly mixed-no pockets of dry flour or crumbliness.


Stiff dough generally turns out a denser crumb and requires more physical pressure to work. Adding hydration can make it looser and will generally change the nature of the crumb.


So if you want a dense crumb (as in bagels) you start with a lower hydration dough. Because of the lower hydration and the protein content of the flour, it requires more pressure to shape or roll but it should have some feeling of stretch to it and not have loose flour or a crumbly texture.

gothicgirl's picture
gothicgirl

"... I believe kneading is overrated."


For some bread, sure, you do not need to knead, but I disagree that it is overrated.  Some breads require some manual gluten development, and kneading is the only way to get that.


Wet doughs don't need the same kneading, but, a fold and stretch will not be enough for a bagel, IMO.


 

arzajac's picture
arzajac

I've made bagels without kneading.  Just stretch-and-fold.  Works just fine.


 

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

If you don't mind, will you explain how you stretched and folded your bagel dough?  I made some yesterday and I absloutely had to knead traditionally and really press down to get the dough to come together.  The hydration was 51%.  Is this really dry?  Thanks in advance.


Summer

arzajac's picture
arzajac

51 is dry.


The only times I ever made dough that dry is when I made a measurement error.  I can't really say what the exact percentage of hydration was...


But I've stretched and folded dough that was so dry it started to tear when folded and it still turned out fine.  You would need to press down on the dry spots with wet fingers to break them up, but I doubt if this would add a significant amount of water to the recipe.


So the technique is that you lift the dough out of the container, pat it down flat, fold it over like a letter, pat it down and fold again in the other axis.  Put it back and repeat the steps two more times over the next hour or so.


 

ejm's picture
ejm

Forget about the window pane. I don't know who started this method for knowing that the gluten has been developed enough but it has caused so much grief for so many. After mixing it, allow the dough to rest on the counter for 20 minutes or so. Then hand knead until the dough feels smooth and silky - it will take around 10 minutes. Use a dough scraper to help you knead. Add flour in tiny amounts only as required if the dough seems to be very very sticky.


Bagel dough is pretty stiff as I recall (it has been a while since I've made bagels) but when mixing the dough for it, I would be still be inclined to hold back 1/2 cup flour and use that for kneading. This is generally what I do when mixing any bread dough that calls for cup measures. You don't have to use all of it. Instead of


> 4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (more if needed)


I'd be inclined to read that as "4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (hold back 1/2 cup for kneading)"


When measuring flour using cup measures, make sure that you fluff up the flour before putting it in the cup. Flour tends to get packed down in the bag and so it's easy to add too much flour. This is why some people insist that measuring by weight is better.


The other thing to remember is that cup measures are slightly different. A standard American cup holds 240ml; a standard Canadian cup holds 250ml. Sure, 10 ml isn't a lot but when it comes to flour measuring, it can make a HUGE difference, especially if the flour is packed into the cup.


But even the standard measuring cups don't necessarily hold the amount they say they hold. I have a pyrex cup for measuring liquids that says it holds 250 ml but it is actually closer to around 235ml (how do I know? I weighed the water that was measured in it). So that means if I use my pyrex measuring cup for the water and my metal measuring cup for the flour, there will be far too much flour in the dough. 


-Elizabeth


P.S. A tablespoon of active dry yeast sounds like a LOT of yeast for 4+1/2 cups of flour! Our bagel recipe (based on "Jo Goldenberg's bagels" in New Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton & Peter Reinhart's "Classic Water Bagels") calls for only one teaspoon of active dry yeast for 4 cups of flour.

ques2008's picture
ques2008

This is one topic that has always intrigued me, but an activity I quite enjoy.  There are some recipes I work with that are just perfect - that is, the dough comes together beautifully in 6-10 minutes after manual kneading (I don't have a bread machine or a mixer).  For example, gothic girl's recipe for char siu bao was wonderful, I could tell that the ratio of wet/dry ingredients was good.


So what intrigues me is this:  if the dough is too wet, I end up kneading about 20 minutes until it comes together and my hands are close to clean (from flour).  Instead of kneading that long, would you just let the dough rest for 20 minutes - as recommended by ejm?  Would a 20-minute rest change the dough making it more pliable?


So far, I've been kneading for longer periods when the dough is too wet and sticky.  It eventually comes together, but I wonder if that over-kneading is bad?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

If the dough is really wet, let it rest for 20 minutes, then do a stretch and fold. Then repeat: rest for 20 minutes, stretch & fold. You can do this procedure 3 times within an hour. That should bring the dough together without over-kneading and without much work. If you continue to knead after the gluten is developed, then I think the dough gets sticky again.


--Pamela

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Thanks, Pamela.  I'll have to give that one a try!

ejm's picture
ejm

Yes, indeed, this is exactly what I do with really slack dough (and what is recommended by at least three of the artisanal bread books on our bookshelf) It does work. I think I first tried it after reading Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America.


The rest does make the dough more pliable. It relaxes the gluten strands that have tightened (or something like that...) The same thing happens when forming pizza crust. Initially, it wants to shrink back on itself but if you leave it to rest for 10 minutes or so, you can stretch it into a bigger disc.


-Elizabeth


There is a section in Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking that explains what goes on with gluten development  and break down if the gluten is over developed - which is REALLY hard to do when hand kneading.

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Thanks, Elizabeth.  I think I'm ready to change my strategy when it comes to stickish or wettish dough.  I must say that in 35% of the recipes I've tried, the dough is too wet so I end up kneading for 20 minutes.  Sometimes I feel like chucking the whole thing into the garbage but I persevere because I don't like to waste food (being so expensive these days).  It eventually comes together - but oh, what a ton of anguish!

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

May I ask, would you do this with ciabatta dough?  The last time that I tried ciabatta it was like a pool on my kneading surface and I had to add flour just to be able to knead it.  Thanks.


Summer

ejm's picture
ejm

I would definitely do this with ciabatta dough! A while back, I put together a photo essay showing how I Knead Slack Dough by Hand going from this:


kneading slack dough to this: second turning by using "stretch and fold".


-Elizabeth

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Thanks so much.  I'm relatively new here so didn't see that tutorial which you posted in sept 2007.  slack dough, if i'm guessing correctly, is wettish/stickish dough, right?


i shall give this stretch/fold technique a try.  thanks so much for that lovely/informative tutorial.

ejm's picture
ejm

You're most welcome; I'm glad you find it useful. Yes, slack dough is high hydration dough. Sometimes it's so wet that after mixing it, when I pour it onto the board, it looks like oatmeal porridge.

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

Elizabeth - Thank you so much for the link.  I have now bookmarked it.  This is just the kind of information that I was hoping for!


Summer

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

While there are some excellent suggestions here, at some point, I think that how much kneadins is a matter of experience and feel that you learn through trial and error. 


I could not bake decent bread until someone let me feel what well-kneaded (white bread in that case) dough felt like.  Once I understood what I was aiming for, I could make lovely bread. 


I find that different breads have different feels.  It takes a bit of trial an error to figure out what is right for each variety, though I'm usually pretty close just by instinct.  Recipes will often tell you if this is going to be a sticky dough or a dry one. 


And, the type of product will also inform you.  Bagels tend to have a tight, close crumb so if you are doing a regular dough it may take quite a bit of kneading as opposed to a large, open crumbed bread. 


Of course, as mentioned above, there are all sorts of ways to minimize kneading by varrying the hydration and methods used. 


I'm working with a lot of highly hydrated doughs right now, but sometimes I miss the tactile pleasures of a good old-fashioned knead, so I make a more traditional dough.  Most doughs are just right when they feel like a baby's bottom when patted--I love that, it's part of what makes bread baking fun to me.  Sometimes you just have to knead.  But knowing what you're aiming for will really help. 

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Janknitz,


I agree with you.  As you gain more experience, you develop that gut instinct for bread and some recipes.  I too prefer the old fashioned way of doing it,

arzajac's picture
arzajac

I dissagree about using the sense of feel to make bread.  Some doughs require the addition of a lot of flour to prevent them from sticking while you knead them by hand.  By the time you are able to knead the bread, you have already decreased its hydration significantly and changed the recipe.


By using other methods, you measure your ingredients and there is no opportunity to make a mistake.  Touching dough to feel if it's smooth and uniform is not rocket science.  The tough part is not guessing how long you should knead the dough, but finding a technique that allows you to knead without wrecking your dough.


I prefer stretch-and-fold.  Some people think you can only stretch-and-fold wet doughs.  Just for fun, I made two batches of the same dough today.  They are both 60 per cent hydration (pretty dry) and lean (Just flour, water, yeast and salt).  One is streched and folded and the other is kneaded.  I am biased, but I think the S&F is slightly better than the kneaded one.


*I know I misspelled "Stretch-and-fold" in the photos but I am not going to redo the photos.  It's less work to just look like a dummy...



 



 


I use an aluminum roasting pan as a "cloche".  It takes no time to warm up and therefore saves energy.  It works every bit as well as a "cloche" that needs to be preheaded.


 



 


Both breads are very comparable.




 


I think the crumb of the S&F bread is slightly better.


ques2008's picture
ques2008

Very nice loaves.  Tell me, do you put the roasting pan at start of baking time or after a few minutes when the bread goes in?  How long do they keep for until they get hard?


When you stretch and fold, does the dough come together, making it easy to shape them?


Pray tell!

arzajac's picture
arzajac

I preshape and let it rest for 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature, then do the final shape.  I then preheat the oven for 30 minutes and pop them in.  I cover them immediately for 5 and a half minutes at the highest temperature my oven will go.  Then I remove the cover and drop the temperature down to 450 for about 5 minutes, rotate the breads and finish them for another 5 minutes or so.


The loaves I posted are garbage.  They are not prefermented and taste like nothing.  I just did it as an experiment.  I have a quantity of white (bleached) flour that I need to get rid of.  I don't expect they will keep for more than a few hours.


But when I make (real) bread, I preferment the dough for 8-24 hours at room temperature, or for 2-5 days in the refrigerator.  At room temperature, I will mix the ingredients together and let them sit to preferment before I S&F.  After the third S&F, I go right to preshaping.


If I make the dough several days in advance, I will mix, S&F and then put it in the fridge after the final S&F.  I will take it out of the fridge and do a pre shape right way and final shape 45 minutes later.


A prefermented dough made with unbleached flour will taste extraordinary, keep for a few days and look the same as what I posted.  Actually, I like a much higher hydration (70-75%) so it will look a little different, but not because of the prolonged fermentation.


Yes, when you stretch and fold, the dough comes together after the third S&F and it's just as easy to shape as kneaded dough.


 

rolls's picture
rolls

how did you get ur crumb so 'holey' if there was no preferment? and what formula did you use? is it easier when beginning with baguettes to use a less hydrated dough?and can u plz describe your scoring. from the pic u can't tell how much they'd spread. (sorry that was  more than one question)


thanks

arzajac's picture
arzajac

A "holey" crumb has nothing to do with a preferment.  A preferment improves the flavor and keeping properties of the finished product - that's all.  I guess the crumb is open because I try not to de-gas the dough as I'm handling it.  Recipe books from years ago say to "punch down' the dough - I always used to do that and would always make really bad bread.


The recipe is a lean dough recipe.  I poured 230 ml (one glass) of warm water into my container and devided 230 by.60 which equals 384.  2 per cent of 384 is about 7 so I added seven grams of salt to the water.  I used 1 per cent yeast so I added a little more than 3 grams of yeast to the water.  I need to let the yeast dissolve for a few minutes before I add the flour which is why I started with the water.  Five minutes later, I added the 384 grams of flour and mixed with a spoon for one minute.  Then I either kneaded or stretched-and-folded.


Is a stiff dough easier to shape?  Yes.  Is it easier to eat, no.  This was an experiment.  I would not make baguettes (actually, I would not serve them) with that hydration.  I would use a drier dough like that for bagels.


I don't know what to say about the scoring.