The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Knead or no Knead

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hankjam's picture
hankjam

Knead or no Knead

Hi

I'm still pretty new to bread making and one area that I am finding a bit tricky is kneading. To me there seem to be two schools, those that knead for 10 mins and those that appear not to, they do stretch and fold and that seems to work.

So is it different strokes for different folks or are they making different types of bread or using different types of yeast / flours?

Would be grateful for your thoughts.

Many thanks

Andrew j

Colin2's picture
Colin2

You have to develop the gluten in some way.  There are methods that use long fermentation and rising to do most of that work, with minimal hand kneading.  I'm not clear on the second distinction, because kneading stretches and folds.

There are some good videos on kneading techniques of you look around on this site.  What is tricky for you about kneading at the moment?

hankjam's picture
hankjam

Hello Colin

Thanks for replying. I suppose my last loaf, which seemed to go off the rails abit, it was very wet, did not really have a good structure, large air pockets on the outside and small ones inside.... and am wondering if I need to knead more. IN the UK practically every TV prog on bread making seems to have a segment on showing how "the light will pass through your gosmer thin dough" and you get this by 10-20 mins of kneading. Am still looking round the site, which is proving rich.

Cheers

Andrew j

Colin2's picture
Colin2

My suggestion, remembering my own learning, would be to start with well-behaved, medium-hydration doughs that  you can knead on the counter.  This will get you sensitive to how the dough feels and changes.  The videos are great helps because you can see how a dough goes from shaggy to smooth, elastic, and uniform.  It's the texture that tells you you're done, which is what window-paning and so forth is about.

Once that is mastered, you can start letting the dough take on more of the work of gluten development through slow rises, and experiment with higher hydration.

 

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

The more expert here can give you much more technical advice than I can but I thought I'd share what I've gleaned from a year or so of breadbaking (and a lot of help from members here -- who will correct any misconceptions I spout).

Gluten development hinges on a variety of factors.

1. The flour.  Some flours develop more gluten strands than others.  (Rye does not contain gluten and is a whole 'nother ballgame.)  White bread flour has more gluten than all-purpose flour which has more gluten than cake flour.  There are also specialty high-gluten wheat flours.  Whole wheat flour develops proportionately less gluten than white flour.   Vital wheat gluten can sometimes be used to increase the gluten in bread but it not a totally exact replacement.

2.  The hydration.  The proportion of water to flour matters.  A too dry dough will hamper gluten production because it is too stiff to allow the gluten to stretch.  A wet dough with a high gluten flour results in nice, chewy bread with big air holes.

3. Time.  Gluten takes time to develop.  The amount of time can be fiddled with by use of the next factor: Manipulation.  Time also allows flavors to develop.  Temperature effects time.  Slow things down by refrigerating.  Speed things up with a little heat (but too much heat kills yeast).

4. Manipulation AKA kneading or stretching.  Kneading  is a series of stretching and folding actions that helps develop the gluten.  The "stretch-and fold" and "french fold" methods are also used to develop gluten but mix manipulation with more time.  At the extreme end, no-knead breads replace kneading with time.  Time has the added advantage of allowing more flavor to develop.

I use the stretch-and-fold method demonstrated by Mike at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html for almost all breads I make irrespective of the recipe's instructions to knead.  I adjust the time between stretches by the temperature in the kitchen.   If I wish to hurry bread along, I knead it in the KA mixer understanding I will sacrifice some flavor development.   I know myself.  If I knead by hand, I am likely to add too much flour, reducing the hydration and making a more doorstop-like loaf.  I also don't groove on kneading so am likely to quit too soon.  You may love the zen of  kneading as many here do but if, as a newbie, you are having trouble knowing what a dough should feel like at the end of kneading, try three 45 minute stretch-and-fold cycles and let the dough develop itself.  You can then go back to kneading knowing what a developed dough feels like.  It worked for me.

hankjam's picture
hankjam

Hi HeidiH

Thank you for taking time to write.I'll give teh three 45 minute strectch and fold a go and see what it looks like.

Cheers

Andrew j