The Fresh Loaf

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Mixing Dough - Methodology

KyleInTexas's picture

Mixing Dough - Methodology

Greetings Bakers,

I have an old recipe that calls for handworking dough made of flour, egg, softened butter, baking powder, rum and orange flower water. The recipe says to continue kneading the dough until it comes together, but also states that it will take a long time until it feels right. The end result is a ball of dough about the size of a large man's fist that will eventually be worked into a 3 foot by 3 foot sheet of pastry about the thickness of a sheet of cardstock or cigar paper.

I would like to hear opinions on whether or not I can use a KitchenAid mixer to do the work or if I should go with the hand-kneading. As the recipe is about 150 years old, I imagine any mixing other than hand-mixing wasn't even conceivable.

Nevertheless, this is a grand recipe and quite difficult in its execution and rather expensive in its making and I would prefer not screwing up the first go.

Much appreciated,


ananda's picture

Hi Kyle,

A mixer will do just fine; in fact, with care, is probably better than hands: I do emphasize "with care"!

You should use a paddle beater attachment to "crumb" the flour, baking powder and butter.   This will allow the fat to interfere with the formation of a gluten matrix and impart a short texture to your pastry.

The next stage would be to add the liquids. Combine egg, rum and flower water and beat very lightly by hand.   Add this to the crumb in the machine and mix carefully to bring the paste together.   Do not over work at this stage, as this will toughen your paste.

Take the paste out of the machine and very gently knead it by hand to achieve a texture which you will be happy to work with to roll out.   Wrap the paste in a plastic bag, and leave it to rest at least half an hour before moving on to the next stage of the process.

By the way, the Lembert mixer first appeared in Paris in 1796, so mechanical mixing has probably been around longer than you may have thought!

Best wishes


KyleInTexas's picture

Excellent information! Thank you very much.

Chuck's picture

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flournwater's picture

I agree.  The dough doesn't know whether it's your hand or the dough hook that's caressing it through the kneading process so don't waste energy if you don't' have to.

It wouldn't hurt to stop the process and feel the dough periodically to get a better idea of where it is in its development so you don't overdo it though.

ananda's picture

Hi Both,

I know the original poster made reference to dough in the title of the post.

However, the focus of the post seems entirely directed to mixing paste and not dough.

Maybe some clarification is required here?

However, are we talking "paste" here and not "dough"?...And the distinction is of crucial importance, let's be honest!

So, I'll assume which case, as per my recommendations to Karl, a paddle beater is required for reasons as stated.   Thereafter, minimal mixing to bring the paste together again, quite clearly mentioned.   Then gentle hand kneading to finish.

I'm really not sure where you want to lead the op with a discussion involving dough hooks and development.  These are off limits in mixing pastry.



Brot Backer's picture
Brot Backer

If this recipe is over 150 years old and uses some expensive/specialty ingredients and also includes alcohol I would postulate that this recipe comes from Europe not America. The application of the dough, a VERY thin sheet, and again the inclusion of alcohol, a gluten relaxer, along with the wording of the recipe leads me to think that you WANT gluten development. So yes, use a dough hook! The oldest pastry dough, phyllo, has incredibly high gluten development and is also very thin; strudel dough and even laminated doughs are also examples of pastry that needs gluten development.

KyleInTexas's picture

Greetings Bakers,

I just wanted to drop a line and say thank you for the information. I did a dry run of the recipe yesterday/today and it just came out of the oven and it looks perfect.

Your responses were quite thorough and interesting to boot. I ended up making two batches of dough (pastry... I had no idea there was necessarily a difference in the meaning of both words and have used them interchaneably for a lifetime) simply to test the elasticity of mixer paddle versus hook and truth be told, after several hours of rest, both balls rolled out equally fine.

The only difference really was in the longer time it took for the mixture to come together under the hook.

As for the Gateau de Pomme de Perigordienne, I can see why the recipe has been saved by my family, but I can never remember having seen one made.

It's quite a chore to hand-stretch so little pastry into such a large, thin sheet.

Thanks again!