The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floured surface for kneading dough

beautifuldisaster's picture

Floured surface for kneading dough

It just hit me.. if i used bread flour for my dough and am taking out to knead on a floured surface, do i need to flour the surface with the same type of flour, or do i need to use bread flour as well? LOL, it might seem kinda silly but am just wondering. Thanks :)

flournwater's picture

No.  I typically just use AP flour to dust the counter for kneading but I would avoid using a specialty flour (rye, brown, etc.) unless it was included in the original formula.

ananda's picture


I don't believe kneading on a floured surface is of any use at all.   Your dough should be mixed correctly to the formula; so adding flour means the dough is no longer balanced.   Try adding a little oil to your hands; let the dough rest for a short period if really sticky.   Knead on a floured surface is really just well-meaning advice from cooks who wanna be bakers.   The dough will mix better without the additional flour.

Best wishes


Yerffej's picture

Andy makes a very good point about adding bench flour and winding up with too much flour. 

If my dough is a bit too sticky I will use a touch of flour on the kneading surface.  If my dough is a bit too dry I use water on my hands and the kneading surface.  It is best that you do not use anything indiscriminately.


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

I don't use any additional flour when kneading.  I knead the dough in a large metal mixing bowl with a plastic scraper, and hands dipped in water...  Using an autolyse rest period of 30-60 minutes after all the ingredients are mixed is especially helpful...  It makes the dough very easy to handle, and not sticky at all.  Also, you may want to look into the "french fold" method of kneading for wetter doughs.  Also, transfering the dough to an oiled bin with a cover, and stretch/turn/folding will develop the dough without kneading...

KenK's picture

Being a hack cook/wannabe baker, I have no problem adding a little flour to the kneading surface.  I use whatever flour is sitting on the counter which is typically whatever the last kind that went into the dough.  A lot of times I will use a combination of AP and bread flour.

I  have not noted any problems caused  by adding another tablespoon or two of flour to two pounds of dough.  I have seen professional bakers doing the same.

ananda's picture


Most people I have had the good fortune to corespond with on here are definitely not "hacks".   Jeff is about right with "a touch" of flour.   A Scottish baker I worked with use the excellent phrase "a young dusting".   I still think if you have mixed the dough right in the first place, you don't need to add flour; I don't want to be a hack, although I accept I'm far from perfect, and am very happy to pick up the vast amount of wisdom often found on this site


yozzause's picture

I think this is an area where there is a lot of confusion and it revolves aroud the term kneading. i believe mixing is incorporating your ingrediants into your dough mass and developing that into a pliable dough, it doesn't matter whether the mixing is by hand, machine or whatever, the important part is incorporating the ingediants and letting them all get to work the kneading is what is going on in the mixer or on the bench its the physical development of the dough late additions of flour or any ingrediant just gives less time for that to be incorporated into the mass. Dusting the bench top is really only to alieviate the dough from sticking to the bench or more impotantly together when scaled, even if it does stick to the bench  it will usually ball up fairly easily with a bit of pressure and a circular motion  or with a scraper. some of the big holes we see in loaves are caused by excessive amounts of flour or poorly incorporated ingrediants.

Regards Yozza

ananda's picture

The term kneading is not used by bakers, as I think Yozza alludes to.

Bakers mix dough.   At the end of that part of the process, the dough is deemed to be "mixed"



beautifuldisaster's picture

Thanks for all your wonderful advice! Yes, I was also wondering about adding more and more flour as I knead, and am glad to have that cleared up.  :) Thanks for all your help!




RiverWalker's picture

I was shocked to hear someone assert that "bakers" don't use the term "kneading".

to double check, I looked up in the ABB I have here....

"Stage 2: Mixing "Mixing is sometimes referred to as kneading, especially if it is performed by hand rather than in a machine. Regardless of the name given to it,..."

"Machine Mixing ... Versus Hand Kneading ... The "how" question reveals the philosophical divide that exists in the baking world between those who are die-hard by-hand kneaders and the opposing camp of mixing-machine loyalists. ... hand kneading,... mix by hand... electric bread machines to knead... If you decide to mix by hand, to knead in other words..."

"Mixing Methods ... this is especially true when kneading by hand... hand kneading... "

and I find in "The Bread Bible":
"2. Mixing and Kneading .... the next step is to knead the dough... the dough is kneaded... Hand Versus Machine Kneading... (and further repeated uses of various forms of "knead")

perhaps any "bakers" who across the board do not use the term "knead" are simply stuck up and too accustomed to using their machines.

I suspect the ORIGINAL issue is one of skill and experience. people who are just starting, or only the most meager dabbling into breadbaking, *NEED* the non-sticking that a generously floured work surface gives for kneading, because they simply don't have the experience/knowlege/tools to do without it. as one progresses in skill and experience, they can do with less and less flour.

I have had a loaf or two that indeed had issues because of too much flour introduced with the kneading and such. (and too much degassing, handling, and flouring after the bulk rise) and I came to understand that was the cause, and I improved and now I can use only a relatively scant amount of flour. AND I am getting better at learning how to get the dough where I want it to be, such that it hardly needs even that.

I think most would agree that if you were teaching a young person to make bread, you would not try to have them kneading their first try at bread, without there being a floured work surface. while its preferable to have very minimal flour, or no flour at all, being ABLE to functionally do what needs to be done, without there being flour on the table, takes practice.

alexp's picture

If I was teaching someone I would have them use oil on the surface for kneading. I don't think it is any harder than using flour, the dough won't stick much at all.

Also bread dough often should be sticky, particularly in the early stages of mixing, even if the recipe does not call for a super high hydration. Putting too much flour down to "stop it sticking" is one reason beginners often end up with a lower hydration than they should have, which often results in a heavy loaf.

Even if it does stick, just scrape it up! Except for perhaps during final shaping or when trying to remove dough from a brotform, if dough sticks it's really not a problem.

In fact if I was teaching someone, I'd probably get them to make something with a really high hydration fairly early on, just to get them used to the idea that sticky dough is not a bad thing and not that scary to work with :) 

Although I'm constantly learning myself so I'm not sure I'd be a great teacher... but I'd teach them that anyway :)


LindyD's picture

If you must flour your bench for hand mixing, just withhold a half or quarter cup of flour from the formula and use that flour on the bench.  That way you won't screw up the hydration or add excess flour which will negatively affect the crumb.  

RiverWalker, using the term "mix" rather than "knead" isn't a sign of anyone being "stuck up" nor does it have anything to do with using a machine instead of hand mixing.  It's standard terminology and appears in every bread book I own.  If you prefer to knead your dough, great.  I mix mine.  There's no reason to insult anyone about it.

RiverWalker's picture

"mix" and "knead" are both legitimate terms.

thats the bottom line of what I am saying.  is that for a specific portion of "mixing", the term "knead" is a perfectly legitimate term.

is it not insulting to say that people who use a perfectly legitimate term, are not real bakers/hacks/wannabes?

if it was left at "Knead on a floured surface is really just well-meaning advice from cooks who wanna be bakers. "  with the reasonable intepretation being that the "not really a baker" part being the emphasis on the flouredness of the work surface, that would be fine. I woudl AGREE that its a non-baker's sort of instruction to use a generously floured work space.

but "The term kneading is not used by bakers," is an insult. its saying that if you use the term "kneading" for that phase of your "mixing", despite being regarded as a legitimate term in books, by an author, that seems to be held in pretty high reverence here,  that you are not REALLY a baker.   and IMO that is more of an insult than what I said.

again, I have no issue with people using different terms.  I have no issue with the assertion that is better to do that phase of the process without additional flour(in fact I agree with that part!).

what I take issue with is wholely the assertion that "knead" is somehow an inferior term.

ananda's picture

To all the good people who have posted on this thread:

This is the end of the matter as far as I'm concerned.

I have never used the phrase "Real Baker" in connection with this post, that is one projected on to me.   "Hack" was used by someone else, and I would wish  to be disassociated from that term, and suspect that many of the real bakers on here feel the same way.

The fact is, if you were in the production room of a bakery, then any dough would be deemed to "need" mixing, and on completion would be mixed; and this would apply to use of hands, or mechanical.   This is the terminology that all the rspected authors you cite would use in this environment.   I would recommend Jeffrey Hamelman over all the texts you mention.   He actually does not use the word "knead" once, and his book is appropriately subtitled "A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes".

Let's get this straight, and if you want an apology, here it is: I am really sorry if you think my comment means the term kneading is illegitimate, or, even, inferior.   That is not what I meant to imply.   I was trying to demonstrate why the term "mixing" has greater meaning to a baker; but I suspect, here RiverWalker and I will never be able to agree.   But let me emphasize this here; by baker, I mean someone commercially involved.   There is no superiority in this.

A big thank you to all the real home bakers on this site who I continue to enjoy fruitful and meaningful dialogue with on profound and simple baking matters.   I continue to learn, and hope others see my contribution as being both positive and helpful.

Lindy, thank you for your reference to standard terminology.   I hope this apology might bring about an end to folks feeling insulted.   We all deserve a lot better than that.

Best wishes to all


bakerking's picture

I don't know if any of you have followed the postings by Shiao Ping or DM Snyder on the bread made by Gerard Rubaud these past weeks. Apparently he provides 170 loaves a day to various stores in New England and people wait in line for his loaves. If you go to and look for 'Meet the baker: Gerard Rubaud' you will see him dusting his board, his preshaped loaves and his shaped loaves with incredible amounts of flour. I don't know if it is because his dough is 80% hydration but it seems if I have any flour on the surface of my loaves the seams from shaping just don't want to stick together. Yet he is obviously a master craftsman. It is worth checking out. It flies in the face of everything I have heard about not incorporating raw flour in your loaves and I have been hoping someone more knowledgeable than myself would comment.


Yerffej's picture


I guarantee that the amount of flour he uses on the bench is calculated into the formula for the bread rather than being a random tossing of flour.


crumbs's picture

This is something I have been thinking about a little lately, as I enjoy kneading the dough by hand and when I am working with sticky dough get very frustrated at how difficult it is to mix without getting stuck to everything - even though it doesn't actually require kneading in many cases.

Back when I was just baking my second or third loaf I was looking for tips on kneading because I thought that good kneading would increase the spring of my loaf when I baked it. One of the videos I found was of a woman with a pretty huge piece of very soft looking dough pouring massive quantities of flour onto a work surface and folding the dough and working some, but probably not all of the flour into the dough.

Normally I try to follow recipes pretty exactly because I am a beginner, but one thing I often find is that my dough becomes very tough to mix quickly when I use wholegrain flour (Super Fine Hard 100% wholegrain  from Hokkaido, Japan) so I end up adding extra water to mix the dough initially before transferring to the table to knead. Perhaps as a result of this extra water, the dough can get a little sticky, so I add a bit more flour.

When I add extra flour during kneading, it's usually not more than about 50g, worked in gradually by sprinkling at the top of my kneading area and picking it up onto the dough bit by bit. If I try to work it in all at once, the dough instantly becomes too dry on the surface and won't stick to itself and as a result almost as annoying to knead as if it were too wet and sticking to everything.

Most of the time I knead dough, I do it for 10-15 minutes until it is just slightly sticky (or tacky) on the surface, and when working with a dough that is supposed to be a little sticky, I knead until it has absorbed the flour and starts to become sticky again before rubbing a tiny amount of extra flour on the surface so it doesn't stick to the table whilst resting.

As a way of adjusting the dough slightly without adding extra water or flour I generally find that the more you knead, the stickier the dough will become, and it's just a matter of kneading until you reach the feel you are looking for. I don't know exactly why this is, but I suppose the flour and water mix better as you knead and the flour becomes better hydrated and thus the dough gets stickier. With wetter dough, kneading is both impractical and unnecessary because the flour is easily hydrated because of the abundance of water.

Out of curiosity, I thought kneading was used mainly for gluten development, so how does gluten form in no-knead wet doughs?

bakinbuff's picture

"Normally I try to follow recipes pretty exactly because I am a beginner, but one thing I often find is that my dough becomes very tough to mix quickly when I use wholegrain flour" 

I had this same problem until I started soaking the amount of wholewheat flour used in the recipe in the correct amount of (hot) water used in the recipe.  I soak that for about 5-10 minutes before mixing in the rest of the (white) flour, levain, and salt.  It has made a huge difference not only in the dough (plenty sticky, not at all dry and doesn't need additional water added) but also in the crumb.  When I soak the whole wheat, even as using as high as 50% of the total flour in the recipe, the crumb is very soft, moist and shiny.  You might want to give it a try next time you are using wholewheat flour in a recipe?

Yerffej's picture

The quick answer is that time develops gluten and kneading speeds that process along but is not necessary.

I think that you will enjoy the video of Richard Bertinet transforming dough from a lumpy sticky mass into a beautiful smooth dough without additional flour.  It happens quickly and by hand right before your eyes.  That video used to be on the internet somewhere but I do not remember where.  A lot can be learned from the video if you can find it.