The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie - please help

52747's picture

Newbie - please help

Hi all

I'm just in the process of my fourth attempt at making bread. Today I'm trying Paul Hollywood's garlic bread. Previously I've tried a plain loaf x 2 and a milk loaf.

I am still unsure about some of the basics and would really appreciate some help on the below :

1. Kneading - how far do you pull the dough ? Should it be keep fairy tight or pulled till the fibers tear a little ?

2. Kneading duration - All three of the recipes tried so far say to knead for 5 to 10 minutes until silky. It never really becomes silky in that time. I've seen youtube videos where people show a small piece of dough stretched out very thin saying it should look like this when kneading is done. In ten mins mine doesn't get like that. I tried 25 minutes today. It still didn't get like that. Should it always be like that ? How long do I keep going and can I go too far ? Is there a good fingerprint test ? I've read it shouldn't spring back ..

3. First and second rise. First rise I've seen people say "double in size". It's hard to tell in my bowl. Is there a better way ? I've seen people mention putting fingers in the dough and that the dough should spring back out. I've also seen things saying it should NOT spring back. I'm quite confused.

In summary could someone tell me some good ways of checking the dough is ready for each stage, and where I might be going wrong if my dough seems to want to tear rather than stretch during kneading ?


52747's picture

Thanks wingnut. As it happens the garlic bread turned out perfect :-)

mwilson's picture

Effective kneading involves tearing. Use more force to pull the dough apart. As you continually repeat the same degree of exertion / stretch, the dough will gradually tear less and less. This is physical kneading.


kaseylj's picture


I've struggled with the kneading question, and the 'windowpane' test too.  So my advice should be taken with a grain of salt.  I think all home bakers go through this at first.  There different kneading techniques and also ways to make kneading easier / shorter.    

I think with some practice and some success (which it sounds like you've already had), you'll start to get used to what the dough feels like and acts like when it's ready.   

In my experience (I usually bake once a week or so) I don't have a mixer and I usually bake in 6 or 7 lb batches.  I usually use bread flower vs. all purpose.  I knead for about 10-15 minutes.   I don't tear the dough when I knead, I do more of a roll / press / fold kind of thing.  There are a lot of videos out there and a lot of techniques.  I think everyone finds what works best for them and then always tries to improve.  

Take a look at the stretch and fold technique.  This is pretty standard and you can knead a little less if you stretch and fold a few times.   Also if you use bread flower vs. AP, you can knead a little less as the bread flower will strengthen the dough sooner.

Lastly.. on the 'double in size' question.. again, I know what you mean.  It doesn't have to be exactly double, just eyeball it. If it looks like it rose a lot, then it's probably enough.   Again, with practice you'll get a feel for when it's risen enough, and watch lots of videos of bakers and their dough and you'll see what it should look like.  It should move like a baby's bottom when you tap on it.  It should feel like there's lots of gas in the dough.   If it's close to all this, then it's probably ready.   

Again, these are questions I think every home baker works through and constantly tries to get better and better at.  The good news is that most of the  time, even if you don't get it 100% right,  the bread will almost always taste great even if it's not perfect.   

Anyway, again.. there are many on this site with much  more experience than I.  So keep reading. 

Hope this helps.








52747's picture

Thanks everyone

As ot hapoend I tried being a bit rougher with the kneading yesterday. I'd seen lots of videos saying NOT to tear it, but it was takung twenty to twenty five minutes till the dough looked right. Yesterday it only took ten. I also found a good video on the windowpane test. I thought you had to get it to stretch straight out like that just looking at the pic,  

not gently pat it out :-)..


Anyway I made by first bbred roold, the sizing of each was a bit off, but they tasted good :-)


52747's picture

Sorry bread rolls ! Trying to reply via my phone !

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Get a round translucent plastic container, around 4L.  Use a dry erase marker to mark the starting level of your dough, or a piece of masking tape.  Then it'll be easy to tell when the dough has doubled - when it's at 2x wherever that mark was!