The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When the Dough Hook Won't Bite

tgrayson's picture

When the Dough Hook Won't Bite

When adding water to dough kneading in the mixer, what tends to happen is that the hook just starts spinning around in the middle of the dough and the dough stops moving.  No traction.  I have to reach in and grab the dough and reposition it so that the hook can grab it again.  Increasing speed at this point helps a little, but I often have to do this several times before the added water as been incorporated into the dough.  This is after adding only a teaspoon of water.

Please tell me there's a simple trick I'm missing to make this process easier?



LindyD's picture

Are you doing the initial mix at speed one?  And adding the water very slowly?   And being patient?  The dough isn't going to come together immediately; takes a couple of minutes.

I've never had that issue, probably because I give the hook a chance to incorporate the ingredients at first speed and once that happens, shut the mixer off for a 30+ minute autolyse.  

You could use the paddle and then switch to the dough hook.

What are you mIxing?

tgrayson's picture

<<Are you doing the initial mix at speed one?  And adding the water very slowly?   And being patient?  The dough isn't going to come together immediately; takes a couple of minutes.>>

This happens AFTER the dough comes together.  I always start with the paddle until the dough comes together, then switch to the dough hook.  If the dough ends up being dry, then I add some water.  The moment I add a bit of water, the dough starts sloshing around in the bowl and then dough hook starts just spinning in the dough, while the dough just sits there motionless.

Because of this, I usually err on the side of having the dough wet, so that I have to add flour, but I'd rather be able to approach it from either direction.

<<What are you mIxing?>>

This is Reinhart's sourdough bread, but it occurs on any bread type.  I feel I'm missing some crucial skill here.  :-(



ragreen's picture

I've had this happene, and my instant solution is the same as yours, just repostion the dough. The only other thing I can think of is adding the liquid more slowly, even if it's only a couple Tbs.

LindyD's picture

I don't know the brand of stand mixer  you're using, but wonder if you've checked to make sure the dough hook and paddle are clearing the bowl correctly.  

If that's not a problem, then once the dough comes together as you've described, wait 20 or 30 minutes (autolyse) before continuing the mix with the dough hook. That will give the flour time to hydrate.


dmsnyder's picture

I've only had that happen with very dry doughs - generally ryes and whole grain breads.

As Lindy said, the dough generally comes together in time, so patience is one solution. Another is to switch back to the paddle until you have added all the water you need to get the dough consistency you want and the water is incorporated. A third solution is to start with all the water in the bowl and hold back some of the flour, adding it until you get to the right consistency. 

The last solution has the problem of potentially throwing off the salt/flour ratio, which is important for flavor.

In any case, keep track of how much water or flour you have to add and start with the totals that worked when you next make the bread. Recognize that flour's absorption will vary somewhat from batch to batch and day to day.


Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

Try not to add water directly into the dough hook, but as close to the side of the bowl as possible.  Then just be patient. 

flournwater's picture

Water is a lubricant.  When it comes between the bowl and the dough it combines with the gluten particles on the outer skin of the dough ball and becomes an even better lubricant.  Until the dough absorbs the water and develops enough friction against the side of the mixing bowl it will simply follow the dough hook (to which it has achieved a good hold  -  at least better than the hold between the bowl sides and the wetter outside of the dough ball) and slide around the bowl.

Solution is not to pour the water down the outside of the bowl; that would be counter productive.  If you need to add water you would be better off replacing the dough hook with the paddle, addinga few drops  (not teaspoons) at a time onto the center portion of the dough (make a depression is you need to) and mix until it's ready for the dough hook.  Actually, you should have been adding the water while the dough was mixing with the paddle, before introducting the dough hook, and staying with the paddle until the dough was ready fo the hook.

tgrayson's picture

Thanks for all the suggestions!