Kneading vs Stretch & Folding
I successfully cultivated a sourdough starter and have been baking/experimenting all kinds of breads for the last several weeks. This artisan bread baking has totally got me hooked!! I still have a lot to learn, but this site has been very helpful especially for finding answers to all of my questions after questions after questions....
I usually do find my answers using the search function, but I can't seem to find this particular one...
My question is: what is the difference between kneading and stretch & folding? Isn't the purpose of both methods to develop gluten? I would understand the difficulty of kneading by hand, especially for higher hydration doughs. But I do most of the kneading using my bread machine, so I usually just run the machine until I get the "windowpane" effect. I have done it by hand using the S&F method as well. Both gave me nice results, but I've never done a side-by-side comparison using the same exact recipe. (Perhaps that's my next project...) It really got me wondering if there is much difference in flavor, texture, formation, etc.
The only closest thing I could find was that with the traditional kneading method, you actually risk over-kneading the dough, as the dough still keeps developing gluten while it's resting/proofing. Is this true? (Granted, a lot of it depends on the types of flour and the length of each fermentation.)
I see that a lot of people prefer doing it by hand, which I think is definitely more labor intensive. (not that I mind it, but sometimes, I just don't have the time) If that's the only option, there would be no question, but many of those people have either a bread machine or Kitchen Aid mixer and still prefer to do it by hand. So I'm assuming there must be a good reason here.
I would really appreciate any comments and opinions on this.