The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Easy kneading technique

Hermit's picture
Hermit

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.

 

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

I first saw and used this technique from Jeff Varasano on his website and very wordy pizza recipe. Haven’t used it since those days but used to use it a lot. 

ValerieC's picture
ValerieC

i used this method for many years before I became obaessed with really learning about how sourdough works. Although the flavour was excellent, the bread produced had a very dense crumb. Now that I have read more widely and also driven experienced bakers on this site demented with my endless questions, I have abandoned this method. In my case, I think it was simply a carry-over from the days when I baked with compressed yeast. As we all know, there are as many ways of producing a loaf as there are bakers! ValerieC

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

I use a variant of this technique for very high hydration doughs. First work a dough at about 70-75% to get a good structure and then add the additional water bit by bit. Sometimes called double-hydration or bassinage. But that's not quite what you are doing.