The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Q re food processor for gluten development

justkeepswimming's picture

Q re food processor for gluten development

Regardless of the flour I use (home milled, KAF unbleached AP or bread flour, or any combination of these), the result is the same: My gluten development could be improved. It tends to be fragile and I rarely achieve a translucent window pane, even when using all white flour. 

Currently I mix by hand, knead, and may do S&F depending on the dough. Age related joint issues seem to be part of my kneading troubles - I just can't knead well enough by hand. I am musing about getting a food processor to hopefully replace much of the kneading part. I would have other uses for a food processor in addition to making bread, which is a plus. Storage limitations and cost are also factoring in, so a stand mixer (no other use) or Bosch, etc. are out. ☺️

For those who have experience using a food processor > What are the issues? I understand it goes fast (a couple of minutes) and to be careful not to overdo it. Does the traditional S shaped blade work for you, or do you use a special dough blade? What else?

Any input is much appreciated! 


Rock's picture

There are traditional ways to develop gluten that involve more time than effort. Stretching and folding come to mind. Take a look at this web site for a few ideas. There are probably hundreds of other videos out there. You may not need to buy a food processor.

As far as the food processor goes, it works well but has it's own technique. Charles van Over has a great book.

And an example of a recipe from the book by his wife to give you an idea.


justkeepswimming's picture

Thanks Dave! I had not seen that particular Breadtopia article before, thanks for that. I do use S&F and coil folds etc. I have the feeling I can learn more about developing gluten, and get better results than I have been. The learning continues.... ☺️


Petek's picture

For recipes and techniques, I highly recommend the Food Processor Bread Cookbook:

Food Processor Bread Cookbook: Consumer Guide: 9780671251383: Books

Yippee's picture

on using food processor to knead the dough is in this thread. I hope it's useful to you.


P.S. Please check her blog for more information about kneading with food processor. Sorry, I can’t point you to a specific post, but I remember that (around 2007,08-ish) a TFL baker followed her advice and got good results.


justkeepswimming's picture

Thanks! I had read that thread several times, and it is what got me to explore getting one. 

Benito's picture

This is a really good question Mary.  I’ve been making some enriched doughs lately and I’m worried about the healthy of my newer KA mixer which is known to have plastic gears.  These will eventually bread if I keep using it above the 2nd speed to properly develop dough and add the butter.  I had forgotten about using the food processor.  My unit does have a special blade which I think they call a dough blade.  It is plastic and doesn’t extend as close to the sides of the bowl as the sharp metal blade.

I too would be interested in hearing from bakers on TFL who have tried using their food processor.


HungryShots's picture

I've tried using the food processor 2 times and each time I said, never again. The food processor does not have the power to knead unless you make a dough with a batter consistency. It gets hot quickly. I actually have the same brand for the food processor as for the standing mixer.

mariana's picture

Hi Mary, 

if you don't have a food processor then it is difficult to give practical advice, because different models with bowls of different capacities... well, they are all different and not all of them are suited for the task. 

When I learned that I could knead in a food processor, I was totally smitten with it. It was amazing. Too bad that books don't teach you how to, not even Van Over's book. It has great recipes for everything, from French breads to challah and bagels, and great lessons in fermentation but Charles doesn't teach how to knead in FP, how to develop gluten. He only teaches how to mix dough and blend ingredients to homogeneity. I learned how to knead in FP from Ann Thibeault, her breads are mind blowing, absolutely mind blowing. They are very tasty and aesthetically pleasing. 

I tried kneading in three different brands of FP: KitchenAid, Braun, and Cuisinart and only the last one, with the 14 cup or 16cup capacity bowl, was capable of kneading absolutely any kind of dough effortlessly and perfectly, including wheat-rye  blends. Even today, in 2021, it is still the king, the best of the best of them all, and it is absolutely unbreakable, lasts a lifetime, very reliable.

The 3 Best Food Processors in 2021

A couple of minutes in FP is too long. Normally, with FP you count seconds. For a 2 lb piece of bread dough made with all-purpose or bread flour (% protein is not important), 45 sec is mixing to homogeneity, 55-65 sec - initial stage of gluten development, 1 min 15 sec - medium stage of gluten development, 1 min 25-35 sec - full gluten development. 

Anyways, I never use dough blade, only the metallic blade. Today, I prefer to knead in Bosch stand mixer or in a Zojirushi bread machine, only because I am too lazy to bring my FP out of the storage and then wash its bowl and blade by hand using two different brushes. 

From experience, I discovered that I prefer to moisten the ingredients outside of FP and then knead them inside. I also prefer the two stage hydration method when kneading in FP, so I need to have a bag of ice cubes ready to adjust the dough consistency and temperature after its gluten is already developed by kneading the stiffer portion of dough. 

When I knead in FP, I also let the dough rise inside its bowl in a warm or cold place and I punch down the dough as it ferments by giving it a few pulses.

It kneads so fast that you can use it for any amounts of dough. Just knead it in portions of 1-2 lbs each and in 5 minutes or less you would be able to knead a bucket of dough to perfection.  

I also use FP if I need to warm up a piece of dough out of the fridge quickly. Normally, it would take up to two hours in a very warm place to wake up the refrigerated dough - to warm it throughout and to wake up the yeast. With FP it would take seconds to heat it up and then maybe 30-40 min for the yeast to wake up and be ready for shaping and proofing. It's faster. 

The practical advice that I agree with is summarized here:

So, yes, go for it. It's a wonderful device, I am sure you will be happy with it, Mary. 

justkeepswimming's picture

...and exactly what I was hoping for. I enjoy learning from others before starting to experiment. Having a good starting point is so valuable. I thought about getting a good bread machine, but a FP gives me more overall uses per sq in of limited storage space. ? I may eventually revisit the bread machine idea at a later date.

I will look at Cuisinart in one of the sizes you recommended, and read the Cook's Illustrated article. Thank you again for your always helpful guidance!