A Study of Gluten Development
Just recently, Mariana-Aga, a fellow baker who I have great respect for and who is an occasional poster here, presented a very interesting paper with extensive photos on the development of gluten. For the purposes of her research and documentation she used a food processor to mix and develop, then over develop the dough. All of the various stages are carefully documented and you can see the tell tale signs of the dough being over worked and ruined.
This experiment shows what over kneading will do to your dough. It is also possible to over develop your dough by simply over fermenting it, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. We have all had a dough turn slack and sticky from not being attended to in the proper time.In fact unless you use a food processor, it is very hard to mechanically over develop or over mix your dough at home. The mixers most home bakers use are not capable of over mixing unless you take a long nap while mixing.
If you don't learn anything more from this great post other than to finally know that there is no fixing it if you get in this situation. I have tried adding more flour to the extreme, and it never works. You may as well resign yourself that this will never be right and toss it in the compost.
If you have seen this, you know what I'm talking about!
And finally, I learned a nice trick for cleaning that unbelievably sticky gooey dough mess from my bowls and hands. This alone is reason enough to visit this very informative blog post by Mariana.. I hope some of you find it as interesting as I have.
PS: This page is written in Russian. Google Translate had no trouble translating to English.