The Need to Knead.

In previous posts I have indicated that allowing your Kitchen Aid to do all the work with its dough hook was good enough when it comes to kneading your bread dough. Well, I’m back to apologize, correct myself, and move forward. I’m sorry. I was wrong. …Two phrases my wife LOVES to hear me say… I Love You babe. 🙂

I recently realized the errors of my ways while making a few batches of bread. I watched the dough hook go round and round. At times it seemed to be ripping the dough in half and then putting it back together. Other times it just seemed to spin the dough around. It was either doing damage or nothing at all.

So I thought I would take it out and try it by hand. Let me tell you… it makes a difference.

Kneading the dough is not only an important scientific process of working the gluten strands, stretching and expanding them to enable the dough to hold the gas bubbles your yeast is producing, it is also a social-emotional therapeutic process. Think of it in terms of your own body. What would you rather do, sit in a chair with one of those mechanical massage pads from the drugstore (not to put down the massage pad… I sit in it every time I’m in Walgreens) or have a professional masseuse come in and give you a deep tissue massage? Is there really a choice? It’s the same thing with your dough. The hook will do when it has to but given the choice… there really is no choice.

Kneading is a much needed connection between the baker and the bread. Bread which costs you little to make (emotion, energy, time) does not taste as good and is usually consumed without a true appreciation for all of its goodness. If your wife, husband, or children say, “wow, that was great bread” and it has only come out of the machine then it has costs you little and you derive less satisfaction from it. But, if you’ve had your hands in it, stretching that gluten and massaging it to a smooth and elastic finish, the satisfaction will be greater. You may still say, “it was nothing” or just smile and nod… but deep down you will know.

To help make things easier, here is a simple way that’s not too difficult or scary, and produces softer, richer bread then a dough hook can.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface. Don’t add too much flour or you will make the dough tough… just enough to stop it from sticking.

Now, place the palms of your hands in the middle of the dough and press down creating a indentation. Don’t press too hard. Put your body weight behind it but your not trying to see counter through the hole.

Reach out and take the far end of the dough and fold it back into middle of the hole you have created.  

Press down (and slightly forward) again.

Turn a it clockwise a quarter of a turn then repeat. Continue doing this for the required time on the backing instructions.

Happy kneading!


About DH

Working on it
This entry was posted in Baking, Bread, Cooking Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

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