The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Who needs to knead and other questions

josh.m's picture

Who needs to knead and other questions



1) After many attempts at Tartine-style or Maurizio-style naturally leavened loaves which ended in flat loaves I have found considerable success if, after the autolyse period but before the stretch and folds, I knead the dough in the bowl for 5-9 minutes. It seems like most people are getting great structure out of their bread without kneading, does anyone else knead these naturally leavened, high hydration breads by hand? I also do the standard stretch and fold schedule - my basic recipe is the Tartine No 3 Master Recipe. 

2) My bulk proofing temps are 73-74 degrees and take about 4.5-5 hours, might I get better structure and oven spring from bulking at 80-84 degrees?

3) For 100% whole wheat sourdough style recipes, will this kneading period cut the bran and prevent adequate gluten development? As mentioned, I am not getting good results with only autolyse and stretch and fold. 


Thank you!

Ford's picture

1. I usually hand knead my bread.

2. I proof at about 80°F for about 2 hours, though I have refrigerated for     10 to 14 hours instead.  It depends upon my schedual.

3. I don't think so.


David R's picture
David R

I think (but can't prove) that the idea of bran slicing gluten has been essentially proven false. I think next time you bake whole wheat you should just try your method that worked, and see what happens.

josh.m's picture

Thanks for your advice!


I did indeed knead the whole wheat sourdough (100% Grist and Toll Red Wheat) following the G&T formula:

100g starter

500g flour

450 g water

12g salt

Autolyse with levain one hour, incorporate salt. (This is where I kneaded the dough for ten minutes, which made an enormous difference with doing only S&Fs.) DDT 75 degrees. Bulk 2.5 hours with three turns every 30 minutes, then rest last hour. In fridge for 12-16 hours (more like 18-20 for me) then bake in combo cooker.


So, I will continue kneading. It is still a mystery to me how everyone is getting so much structure and gluten development without kneading. It might be the temperature? Right now, I'm bulking at 72-74 instead of 80-82 and it takes about 5 hours bulking for KA bread flour. 


David R's picture
David R

I'm not smart enough or experienced enough to tell you why this is working for you when the other didn't work, but certainly there is an answer - and chances are the right answer is a mind-numbingly simple one, just one that you didn't happen to think of yet.

calneto's picture

I have never baked a 100% whole wheat loaf, but have had decent results with 15% ww doing a long autolyse. I’ve tried with some success 4h at room temperature or up to 9h in the fridge.

lately I’ve been switching things a bit and have done 2-3h autolyse followed by 15’ of Rubaud kneading. Like I said, my loaves usually have between 10 and 15% whole wheat and Between 75 to 80% hydration. My levain is hydrated at 100%, but that is more for ease of mixing it in, since I always go by total hydration.

wheatjerm's picture

I'm certainly no expert, but Reinhart is and in his whole wheat book he calls for an overnight autolyse of most of the flour

might be worth looking into for those 100%ers

cheers 😁