Easy kneading technique
Hello, I'm new to the forum. Been baking for about 8 years, but usually only a few times a year, typically in the cold months.
I recently found a kneading technique that I wanted to share and also ask others if it is already well-known or has a name or tradition associated with it.
My biggest challenge when making bread was always developing the right amount of gluten when kneading. My early years were mired with dough that was too stretchy and would not rise enough. I like a very smooth and uniform consistency in my bread and so I tend to knead it to death trying to get the lumps out, then creases and folds and so forth, often tweaking the dough with more flour and water as I go. I produced many inadvertent flatbreads and focaccias this way.
I now have a precise electronic scale and have used it to control hydration much more precisely, and in doing so I discovered that I could mix the liquid components with only half the flour and mix that as a batter, building up the gluten in that. Once the gluten has started to form in that batter, I slowly mix in the second half of the flour until I have a very smooth doughball. This second half also develops gluten, but not nearly as much. It's very easy to control the consistency of the dough this way.
The batter-based doughball stays very uniform and is much easier to manage. It's also easier on the arms than traditional "punch-down" kneading. The finished product is what you'd expect from a traditional kneading and I've now baked a few loaves this way with an amazing soft, chewy texture -- reminiscent of the Scotch Bap or Irish Blaa rolls that I have been trying to imitate.