The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Frustrated with long kneading time

FarmerHodge's picture

Frustrated with long kneading time

I've been baking bread for a few years now and while I think I do a good job with the final product, it always takes FOREVER for my dough to develop and pass the windowpane test.  It takes a good 20 minutes of kneading in my stand mixer (Kitchenaid Pro 600) broken up over two periods with a 15 minute rest somewhere in there.  I usually mix up around 22oz of flour per batch.  I NEVER have the 6-10 minutes of kneading time that is in all the recipe books and posts on this board.  Am I doing something wrong?  I mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon / spatula until it forms a rough ball, and then usually i work it with my hands a bit to make sure its pretty evenly mixed.  Then I throw it in the mixer and try not to lose my patients while I wait for the dough to develop.  I have tried kneading on a few different settings but I never kick it up above the midpoint for speed.  Judging from other posts on here, most people don't even have to take their stand mixers that high.  I feel like I have to be screwing up something very fundamental for my dough to be taking so long to develop.  Does anyone have thoughts on what it could be?  

fthec's picture

what kind of flour are you using?


FarmerHodge's picture

King Arthur Bread Flour

Paddlers2's picture

I use home-ground whole grain flour almost exclusively, and have always used only speed #2 on my mixer.   So far I haven't really gotten into the hand kneading as much as I'd like to.  I always start with all dry ingredients in the bowl, and slowly add the liquids.  After about 6 - 8 minutes I just stop and cover the bowl for about 30 minutes to absorb the liquids and start to develop a little.  Then I start it again (always speed 2) and let the dough develop; I add liquid in tiny amounts as the dough dictates.  When it balls up and cleans the sides of the bowl, it will slowly tighten.   When I see a small 'toe' sticking out from the bottom of the dough ball, I know it's ready for the second rise.  I do not pay attention to the time - I look for the 'toe out' and once that occurs, I always get exactly the bread I want.  I have no idea if this is 'correct' or not, but it works for me without fail.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

by hand and then let the sticky ragged stuff rest 20-30 minutes.  Letting the dough just sit there also develops the gluten.  Then go straight into a few minutes of hand kneading and then finished.  As 22oz of flour (623g) is not alot, the dough is roughly 1.4 lbs (one kilo) and I'll bet spins around more than it is kneaded.  I'm sure there are tricks for small amounts of dough.  A smaller mixer?    What do the mixer instructions suggest?

If you could, give us the basic recipe, we might be able to give more specific instructions.  It could be the order of adding the ingredients makes a big difference.   Bread flour is known to soak up more water than AP so if the recipe originally calls for AP, then a little more water is needed.


lazybaker's picture

Twenty minutes sound about right. 

I mix the flour, water, and yeast, and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water. I knead by hand either by banging the dough on the counter or pushing the dough by the palm of my hand. Either way, a membrane forms.

amolitor's picture

I have heard that bread flour, while it has more protein, requires more kneading to develop that protein. Not sure if I believe it, but I've heard it!


subfuscpersona's picture

KA AP is closer to the protein content (11-12%) of most USA bread flours. (Gold Medal "Better for Bread" is a nationally distributed unbleached flour that is also about 12% protein; I'm sure there are other good brands depending on where you live).

KA Bread flour is closer to 14% protein, which is higher than most bread flours.


Janknitz's picture

First, I don't think it's necessary that every dough "pass" the window pane test to be done kneading.  Often doughs will continue developing on their own through the fermentation process.  You may end up with overprocessed dough if you do too much kneading.  Many doughs do just fine at a "moderate stage" of gluten development.  (See Wild yeast's photos here.)  Unless your recipe specifically calls for a high degree of gluten development, it really isn't necessary. 

I think we are beginning to understand more about the process of developing gluten.  The conventional wisdom used to be that a lot of kneading was required to develop gluten, but then along came no knead breads and doughs that were stretched and folded a few times rather than undegoing lengthy kneading, and lo and behold the gluten developed just fine (albeit with longer fermentation times). 

If you really feel you must get fully developed gluten every time, you might learn about autolyse--that should help the process along.  Less hands on time, but a bit more time altogether. 


hutchndi's picture

Funny thing, in all my years of bread baking, I have still not ever even tried to do the window pane test.

KYHeirloomer's picture

and I'll bet spins around more than it is kneaded. 

I reckon you put your finger on the problem right there, mini-oven. Or at least part of it. What the OP should be doing is slowing down the motor, not speeding it up. The dough hook should be passing through, and turning, and stretching the developing dough, not merely driving it against the sidewalls---which is what happens at higher speeds.

In general, the six-quart capacity of the Pro-6 can be a problem when mixing small amounts of stuff. But I've never found it to be a problem when using 20-22 ounces of flour. By the time the liquid is incorporated there's plenty of bulk for the hook to bite into. Which is why I suspect trying to knead at too high a speed.

ehanner's picture

What you should understand is that it is possible to arrive at a well developed "window pane" stage with out kneading at all. There seem to be two schools of thought about how best to mix and develop your dough. When I first started making bread, I thought as did many or most others that the way to make a good smooth well developed dough was to knead or run the mixer until the gluten was developed and the dough would hold the co2 being generated by the yeast. It is better to use the "Mixer" for the purpose intended in its name, mixing, not kneading. Just mix the ingredients until combined to the point where there are no dry pockets and stop. The development of the gluten will happen on its own as described below.

What we have learned is that if you mix the flour and water together and optionally the yeast, and then wait for an hour before adding salt, a short kneading of just a minute followed by stretching and folding every 30-45 minutes for 3 or 4 cycles is all that is needed. The flour will have absorbed the liquid and feel smooth and satiny. The gluten strands will have come together on their own during stretching and the salt will be well distributed from the letter folding. Finally, the dough will rise nicely because of the gentle handling, preserving the gas that has been created by the yeast.

Your question about how long it is taking to knead the dough into a specific condition is best answered by you experimenting using a no mixer method once as I described above. And, the bread will be more flavorful as a result.


FarmerHodge's picture


Wow - thanks so much for the responses!  I'm always so impressed with the level of knowledge here.  For those who were wondering what recipes I've referred to:  the most recent ones were Reinharts Ciabatta from BBA and pretty much anything out of American Pie.  The recipe in particular that prompted my original post was for the grilled pizza dough in American Pie, but other recipes (Neo-Neapolitan or Americana pizza dough and BBA's ciabatta come to mind) have frustrated me with the time required to work the dough.  I have tried autolaysing my dough and while it makes things better I'm still frustrated with how long things take.  Maybe I'm impatient :-)  When things settle down and I have time to bake I will try a no knead ciabatta (possibly with a kneaded ciabatta for side by side comparison) and see if I am impressed with the no-knead method.  I still would like to know who is following BBA recipes and getting away with 10 minutes kneading times in their stand mixer (and how they are doing it).  Maybe the size of my mixer is the problem, but when I have tried increasing the amounts I have noticed the motor groaning under the load.  I will also try kneading slower on the side by side comparison.  Hopefully I can get to that next week.


One question that came from reading the responses:  What characteristics does a bread have that has been kneaded for too long?  Hopefully the side by side shows me this, but I would like to know what to look for when I do it.  Thanks!