The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

mixing dough for the physically challenged

Danni-loves-2-cook's picture

mixing dough for the physically challenged

Hi all, 

I recently discovered the joy of bread making from this site while I was out of work on  medical leave. I was using my KitchenAid to mix the dough, but it is getting stressed with this chore and I'm afraid it will burn up if I continue to use it for this. In fact, I'm sure it will. It has gotten warm the last two times I've made bread dough. I'm still not working full-time so I can't afford a new mixer, though I've searched to see how much it will cost. Definitely won't buy a KA again. 

So, my dilemma is this. . . my disease causes extreme muscle weakness, especially in the arms and legs. The weakness is so profound lifting a gallon of milk takes two hands, and even then is difficult. I haven't yet tried to mix dough without my KA, but think it will be incredibly difficult for me. Once I can figure out how to mix the dough, I'd use the stretch and fold for kneading. I'm a single mom of a 16-yo male who may help out sometimes, but not as often as I would like to keep us in bread. 

This is all pretty depressing for me since I had just found the joy of homemade bread. I had to buy bread this week because I was too tired to try to mix dough this past weekend. It is awful. Tastes like dough to me now. I had been making up to 3 loaves of oatmeal wheat per week for us and miss it so much.

Any thoughts on mixing the dough without the mixer would be appreciated.  

fancypantalons's picture

Well, if you're willing to forgo typical sandwich breads and go for more artisan-type results, you could switch to a much higher hydration bread recipe.  If you shoot for something in the 70-80% range, your mixer should have a much easier time hydrating the flour.  And once the flour is hydrated, you can turn the mixer off and let the dough autolyze for, say, 30 minutes, rather than mixing to achieve gluten formation.  After that, stretch-and-fold your way to bread nirvana! :)

On the other hand, if you're really tied to a nice sandwich loaf (and I can't blame you if you are), then the only suggestion I can think of is to switch to a no-knead-style approach (ie, long autolyze plus a bit of stretching and folding), and recruit the 16 year-old for the mixing phase (every bread recipe, regardless of approach, requires hydrating the flour... and a typical sandwich dough is going to take a bit of elbow grease to properly hydrate... at least IME).

xaipete's picture

My KA always gets warm, even hot sometimes, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is getting stressed. Mine is an older Hobart-made model so maybe others with newer machines will have some comment on their machines. Getting stressed for my machine means it starts sounding odd--can't push the load I have in it.


PaddyL's picture

Here's a recipe for an Oatmeal Batter Bread that shouldn't strain your mixer, since it isn't going to be kneaded at all.  The recipe is from Company's Coming Breads by Jean Pare.

2/3 cup rolled oats (not instant)

1-1/4 cups boiling water

1/4 cup molasses

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 package active dry yeast

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

Measure rolled oats into large bowl.  Pour boiling water over oats and stir.  Add molasses, butter, and salt.  Stir well.  Cool to lukewarm.

Stir sugar in warm water in small bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over the top and let stand 10 minutes.  Stir to dissolve yeast, and add to oat mixture.

Beat in egg.  Beat in flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until double in bulk, about an hour.  Stir batter down.  Spoon into 2 greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.  Cover with plastic wrap and let double, about 35 to 45 minutes.  Bake in 375 deg.F. oven for about 35 minutes.  Turn out onto wire racks to cool.

There are other recipes in this book for batter breads, or you could experiment with your own favourite recipes to make them wet enough so you wouldn't have to knead them.  Just remember that the beating of the dough would take the place of the kneading.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

into that Oatmeal batter bread recipe at about 100% hydration.


siuflower's picture

Have you shop your local Salvation Army Thrift Store lately. Last year I brought a breadman ultra bread machine for $6.99 and look new to me. A month ago I went back brought a Zojirushi BBCC-V20 bread machine for $9.99 and was marked down from $12.99. It came with a video but no manual, I was able to down load the manual from their web site. I checked and is selling for $215.00. Both machines work fine and I'm going to give my son the Breadman ultra machine and keep the Zo for myself. 



Janknitz's picture

You might try Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipes.  The master recipe is available free online if you search--the book (with many more recipes) is kind of pricey but you might find it used.

Your KA will have no difficulty mixing up batches of this highly hydrated dough, and after that there is NO kneading.  Not even stretch and fold.  Just shape and bake on whatever schedule works for you.  I ofen just dump the dough in a loaf pan and don't worry about shaping.

One other thought--try halving your recipes when making bread with the KA (very easy if you learn to use Baker's Math).  It may strain with 6 cups of flour but have no trouble with only 3. 


hullaf's picture

Danni, it is challenging when one has to work around the physical obstacles. I've rheumatoid arthritis and it is gradually being more of an hitch, especially with the wrists and hands: see my node #9821. I recommend reading up and knowing your disease as much as you can and bake bread when it's the best timing possible. Are you better after warm showers, in the morning when you're less tired, and using smaller dough amounts, or more hydrated doughs? I do let my mixer do most of the kneading and use more stretch-and-fold techniques. 

My KA mixer instructions does say "Under heavy loads with extended mixing time periods, you may not be able to comfortably touch the top of the unit. This is normal." 

Don't stop moving, bread making is a nice exercise! And you can't give up homemade bread, right?  Anet

hullaf's picture

Danni, I'll make an addendum to my first response. My mixer is a 6 quart bowl-lift "Professional 600" mixer from KA and even though the instructions say it is okay that it gets hot, that it is "normal" -- I still take that advice with a grain of salt. I would stop if it is too hot to touch. Yikes. 

Please see the node by "baltochef" about "Stand Mixers . . ." It's very good. Anet 

Danni-loves-2-cook's picture

Thank you all for your quick responses. I wish I just had rheumatoid arthritis, which is what they thought and has many treatment options. I have an autoimmune disease that attacks muscle, mainly in arms and legs. Treatment is not a sure thing and the disease waxes and wanes daily. Too much activity can cause a flare of this disorder. 

I so appreciate all the advice, especially the recipe and halving the recipes, etc. I will look into the artisan bread in 5 min a day too. You all had such great suggestions and I so appreciate it. 

I knew this community of people was great; now I have one more reason to sing your praises! 


Paddyscake's picture

Mike Avery (haven't seen him here in a while) has this to offer

He also has a few great recipes to use up sourdough starter..Blueberry muffins and English Muffin Bread.