The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading Question

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kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Kneading Question

As I mentioned in my introduction a few days ago, I am new to bread baking and new to this great site. I use a stand mixer for mixing and kneading because of arthritis. I've learned here that approximately 10 minutes of hand kneading is required but how does that translate to a stand mixer? I am currently making a basic white loaf bread and I start my kneading time of 10-12 minutes once the dough balls. If the mixer type is important, I am using an 800 watt 5 qt Viking Professional. Thank you for any guidance you may be able to provide.

Kirk

 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

The times will be decreased. And the time starts the moment you begin mixing. In these style mixer's for a white dough is say its 3 minutes in low then maybe 5 more in medium speed. These mixers have a tendency to get wrapped around the hook so u may need to stop and remove a couple times so its kneading and not just spinning. 

you could also just knead to a ball and incorporate stretch and folds which shouldn't hurt your hands at all. 

Josh

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Thanks Josh for your input. The dough does spend most of it's time wrapped around the hook which I only occasionally dislodge if I'm bored. I'll have to be more attentive. The stretch and fold method sounds interesting. I'll have to research that.

Kirk

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, Kirk,

Like you, I have arthritis issues in both hands, but the truth is I don't like hand kneading. Some find it relaxing, Zen-like. I find it tedious.

Typically, I mix the flour, levain, and water on lowest speed for two minutes, sprinkle the salt over the shaggy mass, in the mixer bowl, and autolyse for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Subsequently, I put the bowl back on the mixer and mix on low for 2 minutes to incorporate the salt. Then, depending on the dough's hydration I machine knead for 3 or 4 minutes (65% to 70% hydration) or 7 to 10 minutes (72% to 75% hydration) on speed 2. If the dough rides up the hook I push it down, carefully, with a large silicon spatula.

Thereafter, I do either Stretch & Fold manipulations, or for very wet doughs Bertinet's Slap & Fold method. For all hydrations 3 or 4 S&F's, with appropriate rest intervals, are sufficient. I like feeling the dough's elasticity, extensibility and tenacity develop between manipulations. I've not done any extensive hand kneading in years since learning S&F.

Happy baking,

David G

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Very interesting David.  A couple of questions if I may. I'm assuming the term "autolyse" refers to the melding of ingredients which at this point is your flour, levain and water with salt just sprinkled on top.  Secondly, how do you determine your hydration percentage with such precision?  Lastly, how does is process effect the final outcome of the bread?  I appreciate your indulgence, I didn't realize there were so many intricacies in making bread.

Kirk

davidg618's picture
davidg618

In my work-a-day years I was labeled a "System Engineer". I can truthfully say in all those years I never engineered a system as complex as bread making.

That said, don't be alarmed. Natural levianed bread has been made since before the pyramids were built. Your questions are excellent. As you surmised, autolyse is merely a job-security word for melding basic ingredients. In the strictest sense re bread making it means mixing just the flour and water together and letting them rest allowing the flour to soak up as much of the water as it can: i.e. get hydrated. This takes time depending on the mixture's temperature; at room temperature 30 mins. is generally considered adequate. Cooler temperatures, as one might intuit, take longer.

Sprinkling the salt on the wetted flour ball is a trick I learned from the American team competing in a prestigious international baking competition, the Coupe du Monde. One of the most frequent mistakes bakers make, especially us amateurs, is to forget to add the salt after autolyse is completed. Sprinkling it on the dough ball routinely is a good way not to forget it. The reason you don't initially distribute it throughout the flour is salt competes with the flour for water.

Baker's math: Your second question re precision is best answered in a broader sense. First, precision supports consistency. One of my earliest goals when I started baking with passion (4 years ago) was that the bread I baked this Saturday, was essential identical to the bread I will bake next Saturday.

Two simple processes are key to achieving this goal. Sorry, but they're not the only ones; bread baking is a complex system, remember?

1. Weigh your ingredients. Don't rely on volume measurements: cups, tablespoons, etc.; their variability can be disastrous.

2. Learn Baker's math. Rather then me write a tutorial herein I direct you to the TFL home page banner and tool bar. Click on "Handbook". I encourage you to read the "Introduction", but if you're in a hurry click on Section II: Bread Basics. Read the "motivational message" and then click on "Baker's math."

Learn it.

Among the things you'll learn is a new way to use percentages. In baking the quantity of flour in the final dough--its weight--is always 100%: the reference all other ingredients are referred to. Hydration--the ratio of water to flour--is one of the major variables in Baker's math. It is simply the total weight of water content of the final dough divided by the total weight of the flour in the final dough.

Its precision will be as accurate as the scale you buy.

Now to your nearly impossible question: "How does the process effect the final outcome of the bread?

That's a system engineering question if I ever heard one.

Fortunately, The TFL members--their collective knowledge--has probably answered 99.9% of all the questions we might ask. That's what the search engine Floyd provides is for. Consider it the equivalent to Google in relation to bread baking. The bad news is you'll find conflicting advice. The good news is you'll find conflicting advice. You'll learn by doing--trial and error--what works for you.

Use it. It's like having the Library of Bread at your beck-and-call.

Meanwhile, I'll offer a couple generalities.

Did I mention learn Baker's math?

Weigh ingredients. I might have said that earlier.

Keep notes.  Record your actions (procedures), working temperatures, Desired Dough Temperature (DDT): TFL search will provide you a large number of pages on this subject; also bulk fermentation times, proof times, baking temperature, oven spring observations and anything else you deem important.

Learn how to make one bread recipe to your satisfaction before starting another. For me, this is the single-most advice I was given when I started baking with a passion. After all, I bake bread simply to please my family, friends and neighbors. After four years I feel I can reliably produce seven different bread types reliably.

Be disciplined in your practice. Try to do the same thing every time you do it.

Most importantly: Have fun!! Whistle while you work.

Kirk, you've chosen to join a modern, yet ages old, adventure.

Happy baking,

David

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Your response far exceeded my wildest expectation and I can't thank you enough. You not only answered my questions but gave me insight on additional questions I should be asking and where to find the answers. I know that had to take a lot of your valuable time and I appreciate it immensely. Your words of wisdom have been put to paper and will sit on my counter right along side my bread recipe. Thanks again for taking the time to nurture this bread baking neophyte.

Kirk

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

The 10 minute mixing time sounds a bit long. As a rule of thumb, mixing should continue until a smooth dough is obtained. For improved mixing, the dough should be as slack as possible. Try increasing the amount of water. You will know there is too much water when the dough pools in the bottom of the mixer bowl.

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Thanks Bob for your response. Will the additional water effect the raise on the loaf bread or should I even be worried about it? So much too learn!

Kirk

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Increasing the moisture in bread dough will make more water available for conversion into steam during baking. This translates into better volume and a moister crumb. There can be too much of a good thing, of course, and excessive water can cause poor loaf volume. Start by increasing the water in your recipe in small increments, then note any benefits (or deficits). Water absorption never stays the same for long, and has to be constantly adjusted over time to give optimum results.

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Very interesting and certainly makes sense. How does the absorption rate change and is it evident when it does? Thanks again for the help.

KIrk

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Humidity plays a large role. If flour is stored for an extended period at low humidity, then it will lose moisture and more water will be required to obtain a properly hydrated dough. Absorption can also vary quite a bit amongst different brands of flour. Even if you stick with the same brand and type of flour, the properties of the wheat used to mill the flour will vary from crop to crop, affecting absorption.

Changes in absorption are usually revealed when a batch of dough is mixed with a new bag of flour. If the dough is too slack, it means the absorption was set too high. A stiff dough indicates too little absorption. If you weigh a bag of flour before opening it, a low weight might indicate some desiccation.

Bob

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Excellent explanation. Thank you Bob for taking the time to clarify my question. You have certainly assisted me along  my learning curve.

Kirk

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I think there are a few things a home baker can do to minimize variation bag-to-bag in the flour they buy.

First, buy a reliable vendor's products. I've used primarily the same brands for more than a decade, and have never been disappointed, nor has any bake been a failure because of flour variability. I've experimented with smaller miller's brands and been disappointed.

Purchase flour from a retailer you know has a high turnover rate for the products you buy. I've asked the manager of the supermarket where I shop the most where he rates the sales of the flour brands I buy.

Buy only what you need for the next few weeks.

Store flour in tight-sealing metal or impermeable plastic containers. This should minimize absorbtion variability. Don't just put a bag-clip on a newly opened bag.

Store flours that are susceptible to rancidity in the freezer, e.g. Whole Wheat; thaw only what you need at the moment.

David G

 

kmellecker's picture
kmellecker

Great advice, particularly for a newbie like myself. I have switched to King Arthur All Purpose flour and have already seen improved results in my white loaf bread. KA seems to have a high turnover rate at our local market but I like your idea of confirming it with the manager. Thanks Dave for taking the time to assist me with my many questions.

Kirk