The Fresh Loaf

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Kithenaid mixer and the texture of the dough -- not smooth: Am I over kneading, or is that even possible?

cteavin's picture

Kithenaid mixer and the texture of the dough -- not smooth: Am I over kneading, or is that even possible?

Yes, it's another KitchenAid question. I've searched through the threads but couldn't find an answer to mine.

I got a KitchenAid a few weeks ago and I've been trying to get the hang of kneading with the doughhook. So far I've made several batches of Pain De Mie and a couple rustic whole wheats. The difference between kneading the same recipe by hand is the smoothness of the dough. After two minutes or ten the surface of the dough is mottled, splotchy, shaggy (I don't really have a good word to explain, but not smooth). It doesn't improve after folding and streching, either. So in the end, after baking, the crumb is nice but the top of the loaf isn's smooth.  What am I doing wrong?

I thought I was overkneading until I read this

FYI, for these breads I'm using flour with 12% protein. 

LindyD's picture

Have you tried mixing just the flour and water at speed one, then letting the dough autolyse for 30 minutes to an hour, so the flour fully hydrates?  The yeast and salt are added after the autolyse, then mixed at speed two - which is the top speed of KA mixers for bread, if you want to avoid burning out the motor.  

Your description of mottled, splotchy and shaggy dough after ten minutes of mixing makes me wonder if perhaps you need to add a bit more water.  You could do so a teaspoon at a time.   Higher gluten flours absorb more water. 

You note you are happy with the crumb, but not the crust because it isn't smooth.  That's easily remedied by correct shaping.    Ciril Hitz has some tips here:

cteavin's picture

Thank you for the reply. 

I start with a biga (or hydrate overnight when using whole grain), so I hadn't thought it could be that. I'm mystified because by hand it's smooth at all stages. I try autolyse and more water with my next batch.

That shapping tutorial is wonderful. Would you degas for a Pain De Mie, or any other loaf bread? That might be my problem. I always try NOT to degas. So, after the first mixing it it's a little shaggy, it tends to stay shaggy whereas when I do it by hand I make it nice and smooth and it keeps that surface throughtout the three risings. 

LindyD's picture

By "first mixing," do you mean using the KA to incorporate the ingredients at speed one?  If so, the dough generally will be shaggy after a couple of minutes of mixing at that low speed.  That's the point when I stop and let the dough autolyse.

On the other hand, if the dough is still shaggy after it's been mixed at speed two for five or six minutes, then something is off and I'm guessing it's the hydration.    By "shaggy," I mean that the dough looks shredded rather than smooth.

Once the dough is mixed, it moves into the bulk fermentation stage.  The dough should be degassed during the bulk, not by punching it down, but by folding and patting down the dough with spread fingers (gently).  Not only does the folding degas the dough, but it equalizes the dough temperature and increases dough strength.  

Mark Sinclair of The Back Home Bakery has made some helpful videos, one of which deals with folding.  There's also a ton of good information in TFL threads, which can be found by using the search function.

I bake primarily sourdough and haven't done a pain de mie, but I did check my main reference (Hamelman) and the pain de mie formula in his book calls for folding the dough once after the first hour of fermentation.  

What is the hydration of the biga you are using?  If it is a stiff biga, how do you incorporate it into the mix?

Also, have you checked the beater to bowl clearance on your KA?  If the dough hook is not gathering the ingredients from the bottom of the bowl, that could make the dough look untidy.  Just a wild guess.  Your manual will have instructions on that.


cteavin's picture

Thanks. You defined shaggy for me, and that's what I've meant.

I do a 60% hydrated biga. I've only made six loaves with the KA, each time incorporating with the screw-type dough hook on speed one until it comes together, then speed two until I get a little push back. 

From what you've said, I will try adding more water when I give it a go tomorrow and streching it more when I fold. (My image of degassing was throughly pushing all the gas out, that's not what I do, but from the videos I've seen, I'm too gentle.)

Thanks for the help.

gary.turner's picture

For a pain de mie, or in low brow American English, a Pullman or sandwich loaf, the hydration will be fairly low compared to hearth breads. 60–65%, favoring the low end, is a good range, imo. The purpose of punching down, de-gassing, or stretch and fold is redistribute the gas into smaller, more even alveoli, and not so much to drive off the gas. The degree to which you de-gas, &c. is dependent on the type of bread. For sandwich loaves, the crumb should consist of a lot of little holes; you don't want your jam to drop through onto your tie. ;)

Also, for sandwich loaves, you will  generally want a well developed gluten structure. In the KA, that takes 12–15 minutes or more at speed 2 with the hook.

See Sourdough Pan de Mie - how to make "shreddably" soft bread.