The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Survey on Kneading

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Survey on Kneading

It is possible the Fresh Loaf Book could benefit from a survey of kneading techniques. This survey was prompted by my baking of a whole wheat recipe from P. Reinhart’s BBA where the dough broke down using the technique he suggested. While the possible kneading styles are infinite, below are 7 different choices to vote for in how it is that you knead bread.

By voting we can tell if there is a consensus as to how people knead their dough.

Style 1: D. Leader, Local Breads, p.28 By “pushing down and forward with heels of both ands, then pulling back from top and folding down.”

Style 2: P.Reinhart, Bread Baker’s Apprentice, p.56

  •  a. By slapping like a rag doll, then folding and slapping or
  •  b. The two handed method to squeeze it long then work it in sections technique.

Style 3: Hamelman-Bread, p. 15-16

  • a. Lift up left side about 1/3 and turn it vigorously onto the body of the dough. Then 1/3 of the dough from the right side, overlapping the 1st fold; again press and degas.
  • b. Then reach to far side of dough and bring about ½ dough toward you.
  • c. Finally take the portion closest to you and folding it away to the center.
  • d. Then fold dough over with seams on surface and place in dough container.

Style 4: RL Beranbaum-bread bible, p. 47, 57-60 This is probably the clearest of all since it has multiple pictures to help explain.

  • a. The stretching technique
  • b. Business letter fold
  • c. Dough package fold that is very similar to Hamelman’s.

Style 5: Used by Norm (our resident Pro) and King Arthur. It is this kneading that is suggested for use with whole wheat breads. This particular technique apparently does not seem to be able to be explained using the written word. The KA folks say you have to see it to understand it. However Norm (our resident Pro) has been gracious in offering up this effort to explain it:

“take your hands and put them infront of you as if you are goiing to clap. place your left hand flat pushing aganst the left side of the dough. you do not move your left hand rether it is like a wall that the dough rests on. with your right hand you place it about 2:00 o-clock on ths dough and fold the dough in your right hand to your left hand. if you do this right you will make a ball of dough that will get tighter and tighter and form a realy tight ball without ever opening up the center but will delevop the gluten.”

Style 6: B.Clayton-Complete Book of Breads, published in 1973, p.22 Folding in half pushing down with both hands; fold dough and repeat sequence. Don’t be gentle; pummel and punch it.

Style 7: None of the above; I do it my own way and it works just fine.

Dave W's picture
Dave W

My method is based on a guy called Richard Bertinet, he picks up the dough and stretches it, folds it over on its self again and again. Theres no kneading or pumeling, just lift, stretch, slap it down and fold over untill it all comes together, this incorpoates air into the dough, istead of knocking it all out. Takes about five mins or so, perhaps ten. This works every time for me with whatever type of bread i'm making.

Cheers

Dave W

bshuval's picture
bshuval

But I find that it works well only for reasonably wet doughs.

Dave, how do you use this method for drier doughs?  

 

My bread blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com

Barkalounger's picture
Barkalounger

Mine is very close to style one (I alternate hands and go very fast), but I'm going to try Style 2a tomorrow.

bshuval's picture
bshuval

I personally like to use the French fold method as described in Richard Bertinet's books. It is useful for wetter doughs (I tried to look if any of my other books list this method for hand-kneading. The same method is described, but not nearly as clearly, in "The Joy of Cooking" recipe for Brioche. I want to say that Madeline Kamman in her "The Making of a cook" also describes this method, but I am not sure about this.)

A similar, but not exactly the same, method is described in Maggie Glezer's ABAA as an advanced french kneading method that she learnt from Lionel Vatinet. 

Andrew Whitley, in his excellent book "Bread Matters" (available from Amazon.co.uk) describes a "concertina" kneading method, whereby the dough is kneaded in the air between two hands, like playing the accordion or concertina.

Dan Lepard also has an interesting kneading technique, whereby he kneads the dough for a few seconds, lets it rest for 10 or so minutes, and shortly kneads again. He repeats this several times until the dough is well developed. 

 

My bread blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com

ehanner's picture
ehanner

In my opinion, the method you use to develop gluten depends on the type of bread you are making. No one method covers all the breads. In fact some breads don't require any kneading. It could be said that at a hydration of 65% and above you might not ever need to knead. Stretch and fold will do just fine for most rye and whole grain mixes with high hydration.

I would say, if you are a new baker, start with the stretch and fold every 30 minutes until you can feel the gluten like a muscle pulling back. Then when you shape, play with some techniques to put tension on the surface. Check out Mark Sinclair's tutorials and learn all you need to get started. http://thebackhomebakery.com/ This is a great resource.

Eric

kayemme's picture
kayemme

I use a combination method that is similar to pugging clay but moving in a circular fashion. 

 I usually start out by pressing down into an oblong, flat shape and then folding like an envelope, gently, but still kind of firm. Then it moves into a sort of push/fold into a circular shape, being very firm and towards the end, i guide it on the left side with my hand and push gently the top right area into the left until it becomes a ball. 

 so I suppose my method would be no. 7? 

 

Glad to be here. I'm brand new.  

 

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

It does depend upon the dough, what I'm trying to achieve, the humidity, and the temp of my working area. 

I recently discovered the 'slamming it against the work area, by force method'.  It works to build the dough, release the gases and help on a rebuild.  I know that doesn't sound clear, I'm sorry.  (It works when making a sweet dough that has been spiked with commercial yeast).

 It also helps the baker release frustrations. 

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

I have to agree with ehanner. Every dough I work with needs something different, and one dough never needs the same every time. My house is 140 years old and it could be too dry or too humid.

And then there is the sprouted grain breads but they are never kneaded anyways, they always get poured into the pans for proofing :) 

Barkalounger's picture
Barkalounger

I'm not surprised that everyone has their own method (or even multiple methods).  Bread making is an incredibly sensual (sensory, if you prefer) undertaking, no aspect more so than the kneading.  It literally connects us to our bread.  We're bringing it to life.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

except I push three times, quarter turn fold from top to bottom and repeat, like Leader.  That's for most doughs.  Like Eric and Pumkinpapa,  do different variations and folds depending on the type of dough. 

Mini O

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

I find it strange that in none of the major books listed in this survey is there any mention that different breads require different kneading.

 And yet many of our member say quite plainly that they:

do different variations and folds depending on the type of dough.

 Does anyone have any idea why there would be this very clear difference of perspective on the topic?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

We have all noticed that the same recipe can come out different for different folks depending on types of flour. There are also those subtle differences with volume measurements. (I switched to grams long ago.)

I don't like a recipe that's too dry so I tend to hold back a little bit of flour and add it gradually if needed. (This is a standard suggestion for most home cookbooks.) That means I start out with a dough that's wet and it can progress to a firmer one. It also means the dough can go slower through various firmness stages as I knead. After I've used a recipe and made my own notes on it, I can skip some of the gradual "playing" and just add all my flour in the beginning, like most recipes require. I can standard knead much sooner but longer. What I have learned here at TFL (amoung other things) is that gluten can be developed by just folding and can really be used as a technique instead of just a way to progress to a stiffer kneading phase.

As I have already said, I generally mix my dough soft, let it stand and soak up and distribute moisture, and then knead adding more dry ingredients. When I pour it out onto a floured surface to hand knead, it is too soft to do my standard knead so it gets messy folds a couple of times until it is tight enough to continue (without too many pauses or rests). It is just too wet to standard knead. If the dough should stay a high hydration dough or stay wet and soft , then folding (with pauses) is the only way to go. I tend to work in flour with my standard kneading. But as my bread life goes on... I'm using less flour.

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mini, I think you just hit the nail on the head. Lately I have found my dough being more manageable at the end, less likely to spread when proofing and slashing has been much nicer. The transformation is the result of being patient before adding more flour and folding or degassing before shaping. My oven spring is more predictable and the crumb is better looking. I don't know why it took me so long to understand or feel this important subtle difference but now that I have it, I'm not going back!

Eric

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I do the usual kneading, folding, pushing with heels of hands, quarter turn, etc., but I let the dough (and me) rest for 20 minutes or so part way through, then pick up the dough and slam it down a few times, and continue kneading until it feels right.

kayemme's picture
kayemme

somewhere on here i saw a video for the 15 second "knead" of the "french fold" and it looked awesome. i'm trying it tonight, in fact. well, i hope to anyway.

 k

knit1bake1's picture
knit1bake1

I love a recipe from Gail Sher's book. It is a whole wheat with soaked, ground wheat berries. I've made it twice. The first time I was trying to knead it in the bread machine and it wouldn't come together, so the second time I was kneading it by hand, and it was so dense that I couldn't really knead it at all! I may try it with less of the ground soaked wheat berries next time. I was wondering if anyone else has made it, and what kneading issues they encountered. Thanks.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The video you are referring to is the first in the "Eye Opening Techniques" on the front page. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2882/eye-opening-techniques
As you watch this, remember that he is doing this AFTER a 1 hour rest/autolyse. Even if the dough is sticky when you start the kneading, try to not add additional flour and keep it up. In a few seconds the dough will become manageable and developed. It is magical!

Eric

kayemme's picture
kayemme

BEFORE i started.. haha!

 

it's all good though. so you just mix it, then let it rest an hour then french fold then first rise? is that what i'm hearing?

 

 

Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey

I use a technique similar to no.6, but I'm more gentle - I avoid tearing the dough.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Thanks to Mark out in Montana at the Back Home Bakery for mentioning:

 For whole wheat or a bread like oatmeal/raisin or rye, I just stay aware that the kneading is going down at a steeper angle to the counter so as not to tear the dough.  The easiest way to do this is just by keeping it as close to me as possible so I am 'on top of the dough'.

Is that other people's experience?  That a different technique is needed when trying whole wheat?  Norman has explained to me what he does in kneading of WW bread.  It does not sound as if in different doughs it is just in the amount of hydration, etc.

I just find it strange that King Arthur, Mark, and Norman -all professionals-find that whole wheat dough requires special kneading but None of the 6 books even suggests it.

Since I am a Novice and with everything to learn about bread making I am puzzled.

 

 

mcs's picture
mcs

Just to clarify, if you hadn't asked specifically about WW dough I probably wouldn't have noticed or mentioned it either. It's more of a slight modification than a different technique. Obviously, when a bakery is making it, it's done in a mixer with the same 'technique' for each dough. The variables then are time in the mixer and time mixing on each speed.
When hand kneading with a small amount (<2# like for a biga) I might use 1 push and turn, with a large amt (12#) I'd use 3 pushes and a turn (like MiniO). When working with wet doughs, I use the same technique but work much faster so it doesn't stick to the table.

Overall it's the same technique, but I find myself adjusting based on how the dough feels.  

-Mark

http://thebackhomebakery.com

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

has ever mentioned the "conch snail technique" where the dough gets twisted and twisted around itself like a giant snail shell.  It is more of a push and roll, push and roll kind of technique.

Mini O

k4247's picture
k4247

I just work the dough however I feel like until it squeaks!