The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using Stand Mixer to Kneed - could use advice

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Using Stand Mixer to Kneed - could use advice

 I am relatively new to artisan bread baking and have been using a Kitchen Aid Pro 600.  Following the mixing times in the BBA, I have yet to attain the satin/silky texture on the dough (except for cin. bun dough that came out perfectly, but that had butter).  Peter Reinhart states it is exceptionally difficult to over kneed, and I've used slow speeds up to the speed he recommends for basic french bread (medium I think).  I am not sure if I am tearing the dough - the surface looks rough.  BBA says to kneed until the temp reaches X, and I've attained that temp, but not a smooth mass. Times have gone over ten minutes, but stopping earlier fails the window pane test.  I've let it rest a few mins which helped, but still tough.  Has happened a few times. 

1. Am I overmixing?

2. Window pane:  should the dough easily become sheet-thin when stretched, or do I need to work it to translucent thickness?

 He does not say to autolyze, but by reading the posts here, seems almost a necessity.  Not sure if this will fix the problem comletely.  It would seem his recipes are pretty amateur-proof, at least at the mixing stage.

 Thanks! Love this site.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

My advice for you is to pull the plug on the Kitchen Aid for a while and let it cool off. I was where you are a few Months ago and would of never believed I could make great dough or understand the "foolproof" recipes I was reading. You have to trust me on this. There is a great video that Julia Child's and Danielle Forester did where she demonstrates how to get your dough in shape, by hand. I had never understood what had to be done to get a properly kneaded dough. This video is an eye opener and if you are like 90 % of the new Artisan bakers here you won't be thinking about your mixer for a while. I bake 4-5 times a week and haven't used a mixer since I saw this video clip, actually there are 2 of them. Even if you didn't want to make great Baguettes this is a must do. Enjoy!

http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/free/baguette.html

Eric

PS: There are others for later but this will get you started

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Eric, thanks for the feedback.  I used to make it by hand as child with my mom. But you're right, learning the feel will help.  My cooking classes all seem to use the mixer.  Actually told a teacher I wanted to make a dough by hand..threw him off this plan a little!  Anybody else use a mixer?  I'll work both routes.

I did try to download that file earlier today by reading another post. At the moment, I am at sea on deployment (Navy) and the bandwidth won't support download.

 

SDbaker

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I don't think you can download that clip. You can only watch it from present location. Can you cook onboard?

Eric

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Thanks Eric, I could ask, but it's not my area...  time also quite a factor as you can imagine.  Before I left, I had a bake-a-thon at home trying several breads in the BBA over a weekend.  I like the mixer idea mostly for time saving and attempting some sort of standardization.  The pain a l'ancienne turned out pretty well -  but scoring was a futile effort on the slack dough. 

I am likely going to end my service in the spring/summer next year.  I love the idea of opening a "village bakery" for artisan breads and maybe a simple bistro..a place to use/sell breads, soups, comfort foods, crocks of delicious french onion soup, etc. I'd love a career in the food industry like this - small scale, not commercial - but I'd also like to afford a home.  Pipe dream..thus my other post on "how to open an artisan bakery." 

 SDbaker

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That sounds like a doable dream to me. You aren't going to get rich but you can make a decent living doing something you enjoy. A poster named Jo on this site is doing sort of the same thing and writing about it here. You might find it interesting as she tells her story.  She is starting a small bakery in South Africa, Cape Town if I recall. Your experience would be different but the large blocks are similar. Here is the top link. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2257/going-commercial

Meanwhile, Floyd has some great tutorials on this site that will take you through getting started learning Artisan Baking. I happen to think you can still learn the basics without an oven just by reading. When you are "feet dry" so to speak, put your knowledge to work. The LESSONS link at the bottom or top will take you there.

By the way, it isn't any faster to use a mixer if you know what you are doing in most cases. I know a guy who bakes 200 loaves a day without a mixer and just a little help measuring ingredients.

Val's picture
Val

I recently bought a replacement dough hook for my Kitchen Aid 6 qt mixer. It is a spiral hook that does a much better job of kneading than the C shaped hook that came with my mixer. It was about $20 over the net.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

with good results. I have an Oster, which has double dough hooks. When I started I did most of my kneading by hand, but I've gotten to the point where I use mostly the mixer and occasionally finish by hand. I always autolyse.

What type of flour you are using also makes a big difference. Whole grains will not give you the silky smooth dough. With white flour, the windowpane is easily stretched. With whole grains I need to work at it just a bit more, the dough being denser. Your dough should also pull away from the sides of the bowl, leaving them fairly clean.

I think I recall somewhere on the site reading that some KA users have upped the speed. It may have been a thread comparing different brands of mixers.

ebanner is correct in saying it isn't any faster, but it is easier for me. 200 loaves a day by hand..i can't even imagine!WOW!

pelosofamily's picture
pelosofamily

I find if you use more than 20-30% whole grains and ground whole grains, such as organic whole wheat, you will not have the bread flour gluten necessary for a smooth dough. As you know grains have sharp edges and cut the gluten hence, what you are probably getting.  That is the thing you have to contend with, natural grains versus gluten..from bread flour.  It really is trial and error till you find what you want.  Good luck and have fun!

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Thanks all - I have been using standard KA bread flour and KA all purpose flour combinations as stated in the recipes in BBA.  The mixer came with a spriral hook and appears to do a great job reaching all around the dough and mix bowl (although I am disappointed to learn all attachments are aluminum and not able to put in the washer- there's a kitchen aid thread on this with some very unhappy customers).

I do get the mass of dough to pull away cleanly, and some recipes call for a small portion to stick to the bottom - in that case I just adjust the liquid/flour accordingly.  Still the window pain is not easily accomplished without forefinger/thumb assistance in thinning it out and stretching gently or else it is easily ripped. 

My concern is perhaps I've passed the point of requiring kneeding, and am tearing the dough thus the rough surface and dense, tough mass.  However, the window pane test seems tough and too difficult to say it has passed that stage. 

Great comments!

 SDbaker

 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

test sounds like you are doing it perfectly! A small piece of dough, carefully stretch and pull using your forefingers and thumb..a translucent 2x2" window. You got it!

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

I'll have to look at that video when I get the bandwidth.  I can stretch it, but it's clumpy and rips very easily.  I can make it thin by pinching it with forefinger and thumb..but I think the point is to allow the dough to thin itself.  However, when making the cin. buns, I was able to get a very thin membrane like the picture in BBA.  (I'll say I love the easy tone of the book, pictures are beautiful, but wish it had better descriptions of the how).  I'm stumped but will continue to work it when I get back home..

 Thanks, Paddyscake!

L_M's picture
L_M

Maybe you just need to keep kneading a bit longer. If it is clumpy and still rips easily when you stretch a small piece, then it sounds like you haven't quite reached the windowpane stage yet. Think of a balloon that is blown up almost to the point where it is just about going to burst. In my opinion that is what a really well developed window pane looks like.

Hope that helps a bit

L_M

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Thanks L_M.  I should probably do a control event, just keep kneeding until it's ridiculous.  I've gone a low/med for up to 12 minutes for a simple baguette and reached the required temp.  Window pane was there, but took some manipulation.  Maybe the higher protein KA flours need more time?

Looking forward to hitting home port to try!

 SDbaker

syllymom's picture
syllymom

Thanks for sharing the video clip.  To "see" the process made me realize that I have probably been make a much too stiff dough AND now I understand the floured towel thing and what a peel is.  I also found this woman's kneading method very interesting.

Can I ask, what is a peel made of?  Is it a piece of wood? 

Sylvia

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Hi Sylvia, it is commonly made of wood and easily found at larger cooking supply stores and websites, but I have seen commercial peels made of thin metal. I love the look and feel of my wooden peel.  I'll say that my verion has a rounded end and I might saw that off into a flat end so multiple breads can slip off the tip at the same time onto the stone.  Anyone else noticed a difference in rounded vs flat end peels?

 SDbaker

ehanner's picture
ehanner

My wooden peel harder to use than the aluminum one. The thin sheet just slides in and never catches. Also I use Parchment Paper to bake on. A much easier process to avoid shocking the dough by that last reverse motion.

 

Eric

Susanmarie's picture
Susanmarie

I have a kitchenaid with the new spiral dough hook and really don't know how long to let it go for.  They say to use only speed 2 with the hook, which is what I've been doing.  I mix it together on the low speed, switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes on 2, which is about when it clears the sides of the bowl.  If I let it go longer, it flattens out again, which makes me worry that I am overkneading at that point.  (When I make bread with the flattened-out mass, though, it turns out fine!)  I am only making lean white hearth-style loaves these days, using good-quality AP flour. 

How long do you all knead with a kitchenaid and do you use speed 2? 

How do you know when it is done? 

Any ideas about the flattening out phenomenon I described?

Thanks!

Susan     

Val's picture
Val

I use my spiral dough hook for 10 minutes on setting 2 for my sourdough breads. I see the same flattening. You will also see something like this after a 20 or 30 minute autolyse. I think it's the flour fully hydrating. The dough was probably pretty sticky as well. Although it may have been messy to work with, I suspect your bread came out well with plenty of holes and a good  structure.

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Susan, could you describe the dough in the bowl when it is flattened out? 

Cheers,

SDbaker

Susanmarie's picture
Susanmarie

and I can strings (of gluten?) within the (otherwise pretty smooth) dough going from the sides of the bowl to the dough hook.  The dough rises to meet the dough hook in the middle, almost like a big-top tent.  Sometimes there is a little ball at the top of the hook.  Sometimes it looks like the dough is trying to form back into a ball in the middle and if I let it go longer maybe it will clear the sides again, but I am afraid to ruin the dough.  

Today it happened with a 64% hydration dough.  Incidentally, I let it go a little longer than usual today (maybe 5 minutes longer) and the dough didn't come back into a ball, but when I turned it out onto the board the texture was probably the smoothest, most pliable I've had so far.  It has occurred to me that maybe I am not developing the dough enough, but the flattening perplexes me because I have always read that the dough is ready when it clears the bowl.  I have nice springy crumb with quite a few holes, but not with the huge ones I see in others' loaves.  However, I am a novice and that may not be able to be attained with 64% hydration; I don't know because I am so new. 

Thanks for taking an interest, SD.  It means a lot to me.

Susan