Is it possible to under-knead dough?
Yeah, it's very possible. If you don't knead enough, the gluten will not develop properly, and you'll end up with a not-so-good loaf. I almost always use the window-pane test to see how well the gluten has developed.
What about too much? I just tried out my starter and the loaves turned out dreadful. I posted some pics earlier. Think I kneaded it to death. Guess I shouldn't mess with it after it rises the first time?
Most definitely..that's why the window pane test is so vital. It is so easy to do..excellent method tool! 2nd for me, look & feel..should be like satin..smooth & shiny.
I'll try that. I saw a picture of it in BBA.
Yes, it's possible to overknead as well. Overkneading can cause excess oxidation of the dough, which will produce bread that doesn't taste good at all. It can also overwork the gluten strands, causing them to rip.
Also, if you feel comfortable doing so, I suggest a different method of kneading brought to my attention by Dan Lepard, the baker and author. It's produced better quality bread than any other kneading technique I've used, although I still enjoy doing a regular knead sometimes. UnConundrum, a member of this website(hope you don't mind me plugging you in here) has a recipe website and goes over a very here. The only thing that I do differently is that when working with stiffer doughs, I knead it instead of folding. Hope this helps.
Sadears, I agree with Jim - it is really hard to underknead dough. If you want to get big holes and a light crumb, the less you handle it the better. There is a widely held opinion that only kneading developes gluten - but this seems not to be the case - time works well too.Folding the dough gently to get a good surface tension going is the important part - not degassing if possible. Have you read Dan Lepard's book "The Handmade Loaf"? This explains the technique very clearly and concisely. But you can miss out the initial stages he suggests totally with no problems - just so long as you DO observe the folding and eventually, the forming into a ball and rotating / tucking under, to increase surface tension.Don't let any of it worry you - it's therapeutic rather than frightening!Have fun,Andrew
I only asked about underkneading because I think I kneaded too much for fear that what I had done was not enough. Now I know. Thanks for everyone's help. A little therapy never hurts, right?