The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading by Hand

  • Pin It
ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

Kneading by Hand

Well, now that I've committed myself to artisan bread, I need to move up from making only two loaves at a time. I have a wood-fired oven that I only fire once a week, so I'd like to increase the load to make better use of the heat/oven space. My thought is to try to make a dough using 5# of flour + starter. That should make about 6 or 7 loaves, I guess.

My problem is that my KA can hardly handle the 1-1/2# batches I'm presently making. Other than drop another $500 on a new mixing appliance, my only option is to go manual. Which I've never really done before, except to finish up what the mixer already mostly accomplished.

So, how do I do this? I took a look recently at the Julia Child video site -- the video about making baguettes -- where the chef (can't remember her name) says you throw and turn the dough 800(!!) times. At 5+ pounds, that's a lot of throwing! (Kinda like tossing 2 tons of 5# rocks.) Besides, my wife would probably kill me after all that banging of dough on the counter. And I can't say I'd blame her.

Anyone out there hand knead this size dough? What's the technique? How long should I expect the process to take? If it makes a difference, I'm working with naturally leavened dough.

ClimbHi

Marni's picture
Marni

ClimbHi,

I've been making 5lb batches of challah for a few years now mostly by hand and now, sometimes with the mixer.  I'm not at all professional about the kneading and everyone who has this challah seems to really like it.  That sounds like bragging, but I just mean to point out that a variety of techniques will work.  Mine generally is to start mixing in a huge bowl until I'm kneading in it, then turn it out onto the counter.  Most of the time I enlist my 9 year son to start the mixing.  He just digs in and sqeezes and turns. ( Great kid job!)  I finish with the traditional folding and pushing type of kneading on the counter.  The total time is about 20 minutes or so.  I assume different breads will have different kneading times and that wetter doughs will also differ.  I'm very relaxed about bread baking rules, you will likely get some more precise answers too, but I hope this helps.

Marni

rideold's picture
rideold

Do a search on this site for French Fold or Stretch and Fold and take a look at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2882/eye-opening-techniques.  I s&f most of my dough any more and am very happy with the results.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

That's what I do when I'm working with a lot of dough, and when it comes together, I tip it out onto a lightly floured board and continue.  You can stop part way through, leave the dough covered with the overturned bowl and let it, and you, rest for up to half an hour, then go back to it.  At this point, I pick it up, give it a couple or three whacks down on the counter and finish kneading.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Several years ago I was selling bread at a local farmers market. And a few nights before the market, the 30 quart mixer in the kitchen I was renting died. No time to replace it or repair it.

 

And I had to make over 100 loaves of bread if it was going to be worth going to the market. By hand.  A fiend made a suggestion that I followed out of desperation.

 

But it worked, I made it to market, the breads were better than usual and the technique was so easy and so successful I rarely used a mixer after that. I've made over 200 loaves in a night using this technique. It's called "stretch and fold." It's especially good for people with carpal tunnel or arthiritis issues.

 

I document it on my web page at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html

 

There are a number of videos on the page that make it very easy to stretch and fold. I've used the technique on batches as large as 27 loaves, as small as 1 loaf. I've used it on everything from bagels to focaccia. It works well on everything I've made with it with the exception of breads with lots of rye flour in them (rye breads are a separate universe unto themselves.)

 

Mike

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

Ah. . . . Stretch & Fold. I'd heard that technique referred to a lot, but didn't know how to do it. I think I'll give it a try for next weekend's batch.

This weekend, I made the usual 5-cup batch. It usually makes two loaves, but it rose so nicely, I split it into 3 loaves: a small baguette, a batard and a pan epi.

Sadly (or happily, depending on your point of view), we ate them all by Sunday eve, so now we're breadless for the rest of the week. I hope to cure that problem by doubling, or more, my weekly batches.

As for the double bowl/double batch method, it seems like that wouldn't really help me. I would have to stagger my baking to allow for the staggered rise, so I would still be baking less than a full load at any one time. (A full load helps keep the humidity high in the oven and, since my oven is smallish, a second load would be baked at a less than ideal temp.) Even more problematic, though is that the KA (don't know the model off hand, but it's a small one) would doubtless be brought to an early demise due to overwork and heat.

A new mixer? Maybe in the future. I've looked around at used equipment places, but even the used commercial-duty mixers are too expensive to justify for my home use, and too big -- they simply take up too much real estate for weekly use. I'm considering a Bosch or DLX, but I'd still like to get further along with my knowledge & skills before dropping $500 for a mixer -- since the KA works well for everything BUT bread, the new mixer would probably be a dedicated bread dough machine.

So, stretch and fold it is, at least until I see if the larger batches become a regular routine. If so, and if I think a mixer would make my life better by $500, I'll consider a new mixer.

Thanks again all who posted. (And sorry I didn't get back here sooner -- my PC was out of commission for the last few days -- wouldn't retrieve the new posts.)

ClimbHi

holds99's picture
holds99

If you can't afford to consider upgrading your mixer then Mike Avery's suggestion is your best bet.  He knows of what he speaks and I greatly respect his opinion.  Cancel your gym club membership, you won't be needing it if you're going to be making large batches by hand :-)

Actually, I had the same problem, wanted to make 4 loaves at a time and my K.A. bowl couldn't handle the volume. The cheapest fix I could come up with was buying another bowl.  I bought a second bowl for my K.A. and make a second batch of dough in it immediately after I do the first batch.  Proofing times are staggered by about a half hour or so because of the sequencing of the mixing.  Don't know which model K.A. you have but the only problem I encountered, and it isn't a big problem for my K.A. because it is an older K.A. made by Hobart, (20 years ago), is that it may heat up after 15-20 minutes of near non-stop kneading.  You may have to wait a half hour or so between batches and/or place an ice pack on rear top of the K.A. to help keep it cool so the motor and gears don't overheat.  Make sure it's a pleated, expandable ice pack (that doesn't leak) one from the drug store or Walmart with a screw-on cap.  Incidentally, I use the ice pack on my K.A. coffee grinder when grinding large batches of beans (8-10 lbs at a time) to keep it cool.

The real answer to your problem is to buy a 20-30 quart mixer.  Don't know where you live or your financial situation but you might consider looking at a reputable used restaurant equipment company for a reconditioned 20 or 30 quart mixer.  Mark Sinclair, who posts on this site and owns a bakery, has a 20 quart Berkel mixer that he uses at home.  It's shown in one of his videos avaiable on his home page.  In my humble opinion Hobart is way too expensive for home baking and they're very hard (nearly impossible) to find in good condition and the used ones on Ebay are way out of line price wise.  I plan on owning a Berkel one day...after one of the following happens; I hit the lottery, a rich relative dies and leaves me $1,400.00 or Santa or the tooth fairy leaves one either under the tree or under my pillow :-).

Good luck with your challenge,

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The problem with a second bowl for a KA is you can get the same effect by just transferring the dough to another bowl.  WalMart has nice stainless bowls for under $10.00.  KitcheAid almost certainly wants more.  But, you still have the two load in a row limit on most KitchenAid mixers.  I just don't see the KitchenAid as being a good match for a serious home baker who bakes lots and often.

 

As to 4 or 5 loaves of bread, both a Bosch and my prefered Electrolux will handle that without strain.

 

Every mixer has two load limits.  One is the maximum it can handle, the other is the minumum it can effectively mix.  Different designs have different limits.

Spiral mixers can easily handle loads as low as 10% of the maximum.

 

Planetary mixers, like the KitchenAid, Hobart, Globe and Berkel typically have to have around 30% loads to be really effective.  With a 30 quart machine, the upper limit is about twenty-two 1 1/2 pound loaves (depending on dough hydration, of course).  So, it's lower limit would be around 7 loaves.  I think that this is excessive for most homes.  A 20 quart mixer would be around 5 loaves for its minimum, which is still kinda big for the minimum batch for most homes.   The Bosch and Electrolux are very good compromises for most home bakers.  And they are a lot cheaper than $1,400!

 

Mike

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Mike. 

I agree with your conclusions regarding mixer choices, based on your premise. However, for baking often but in small batches - 5 pounds of dough or less- the KitchenAid should not be written off so quickly. 

I have a KitchenAid Accolade. After using it for a couple of years with no problems, I bought a Bosch Universal Plus to make heavier doughs in larger batches. But, in fact, I still use the KitchenAide 75% of the time. It works well for most breads I make and is easier to clean up than  the Bosch.  

Howard's suggestion to get a second bowl is sound also, in my opinion. I also bought a second bowl for the KitchenAide. I use it when I am making two batches of dough with a formula that employs an autolyse. I can mix the second dough while the first is autolysing, then switch back to the first bowl to add salt and levain and complete the mix. I don't do this often, I'll confess, but, when I do, it sure is move convenient than switching the doughs back and forth from the mixer bowl to another one. For me, the cost of the second bowl was worth it. 

David

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Hi David,

A quick look around on-line shows the discontinued Accolade had a flour power rating of 9 cups of white flour, which is the same as the still in production Artisan series.  The highest rating on their mixers is the Pro-600 at 14 cups of flour.

 

By convention, a cup of flour weighs 120 grams.  9 cups of flour would yield about 3.8 pounds of dough at 60% hydration. 14 cups yields about 6 pounds.  60% is fairly typical for sandwich breads.  If you're making an 80% hydration "my dough is wetter than your dough" monster, you're looking at 4.3 and 6.7 pounds of dough.

If you use whole grain flour, the flour power rating is cut in half.  Or, the load limits become about 2 and 3 pounds of 60% hydration dough, or a little more of the 80% hydration dough.  The whole grain limits cut in when you add any whole grains to your bread, or at least that's how I read their web page.

 

All in all, 5 pounds of dough is a slight to significant overload of the Accolade with white flour, and a real overload with whole grain flours.

 

I wouldn't run the Acolade mixer with that much dough in it, at least not after the warranty expired.

 

Mike

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Mike. 

Your caveats exactly describe the reasons I bought the Bosch.  

The main differences between the Artisan and the Accolade models are that the Accolade has a more powerful motor and it has all metal gears, rather than the plastic gears in the current Artisan model. The dough capacity is the same. 

Still, for smaller batches of lighter dough, I do prefer to use the KitchenAide. That is my point. I've respected its limitations and found it a workhorse, or at least a workpony. 

David

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

Hi ClimbHi and all you other crazy bakers

I was going to by a KA but then I saw the price (in Australia they are $$$$) and found out they will only do a little dough at a time.

I usually mix between 4and 5 kg dough at a time always by hand. I use a method somewhere between Mike Avery's stretch and fold and Dan Lepard's short kneads. I developed it by accident because I fit the bread in between the washing, kid's breakfast and the school bus. All I know is that it works. I think it's the resting that does the trick.

good luck

Liz