The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

dough tears when kneading

ericb's picture

dough tears when kneading

Does anyone else have trouble with the dough tearing when using the "French fold" or "slap and fold" techniques? After only a few minutes of kneading, I have noticed that the smooth, outer-membrane of the dough tears. Once this happens, the dough is sticky and difficult to work with. Is this normal? Am I over-kneading?

Thanks for your help!




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

At first I thought your dough was getting emotional. 

When the dough tears, it has reached it's limit of stretch and can stretch no longer.  This can happen when the gluten is underdeveloped, too much flour (and not enough moisture) is in the dough or it is just over stretched. 

What ever the cause, when it tears, let the dough rest for 10 minutes so the gluten strands can relax before continuing to shape.  If it happens often maybe a little extra moisture should be added to the dough. 


Neil C's picture
Neil C

Had the 'tearing' problem this morning and found that Mini's suggestion to let the dough rest was 100% accurate. 

Since I am obsessed with fermenting at low temperatures, i.e. 56 to 58 degrees, I let the dough rest for about 40 minutes.  WOW!  It was like being transported to a different planet with a totally different dough.

Thanks, Mini

Cheers, Neil in Denver.

P.S.  I was in 'Operational Recovery' mode with this dough, making a Poolish from old dough 90 gr, 135 gr. Flour, and 135 gr. 40 degree Water.

The final Mix was 360 gr. Soupy Poolish, 300gr. King Harvest Flour, 150 gr. 40 deg. Water, 1/2 Tsp Instant Yeast, and 2 3/4 Tsp. Kosher salt. 

Presently stretching/folding at 45 minute intervals at 56 degrees.



pmccool's picture

Then you'd love winter in South Africa.  The house got all the way up to 62F this afternoon.


fancypantalons's picture

And for the record, there's no way in heck you're overkneading. :)  About the only way to do that is with a machine... it's basically impossible by hand.

dlstanf2's picture

I know this is an old post but it applies.

I was trying to make my Norwich Sourdough Bread this morning. One loaf contains 388 gr of Bread Flour, 90 gr of WG Rye Flour, 120 gr 100% starter, 281 gr H2O, and 2 tsp Salt.

Mistake 1) I had picked up a bag of WW flour instead of my usual bread flour.

Mistake 2) Tried to use my Craigslist KA Mixer I bought yesterday from a failed baker.

Mistake 3) Forgot to add my salt after the 30 minute autolyse.

Mistake 4) Air Conditioner guy came while in the middle of making my dough making.

Mistake 5) Bad thunderstorm caused a lost of power for an hour or so.

Mistake 6) Forgot to rest the dough 20 minutes before shaping.

Mistake 7) I just remembered that I added enough starter for 2 loaves instead of 1 loaf which brings me to the the reason for my post.

My dough kept tearing after the 2 stretch and folds of 1 hour and 15 minutes each. But I pressed on and shaped my loaf into a boule, covered it, and let it proof for another 2 1/2 hours. I took it out to slash and then bake and saw that it had spread out. It was also loose and the dough was torn in several places, plus it would not pass the finger-poke test. I thought I would just do a few more S&F's to develop the gluten's until I remembered that I had doubled the starter.

I thought I could save this collage of mistakes, but, since it's just water & flour, I decided against wasting the time and begin a new one.