Kneading bread dough
How to do it
Is kneading bread dough needed? Well, the simple answer is yes and no. You will find a collection of
no-knead bread recipes.
on this site that use time in place of effort. You will also find a lot of recipes that use effort - kneading - instead of time.
See Yeast Breads
If the idea of kneading bread dough seems like a mystery to you -or those words "smooth and elastic" don't make any sense - here are some tips to get you started.
If you have a heavy duty mixer with a dough hook, you can use that. If you don’t have a a Kitchen Aid, Bosch or other heavy duty mixer, OR if you just plain like the idea of not using machinery to help in the bread baking process, you’ll get fine results doing it the way Grandma did.
To make the task easier, dust you hands with flour to help keep the dough from sticking to them. It is not a job done with out some messiness so don’t wear your best clothes, and expect that there will be some cleaning up to do. It is a good idea to keep a small flour sifter or cup of flour on the counter to add small dustings of flour as you go to prevent sticking. Before you start, you want to make sure that you have a surface that is at the right height for you to fully extend your arms without having to bend over. In a word, you want a surface that is at a comfortable height.
Turn the dough out of your mixing bowl onto a floured surface and gather it together into a ball.
Use the heel of your hands to push down on the dough. Turn the dough about a quarter turn, fold it in half, and
press down with the heels of your hands. Again and again and again...... dusting with a little flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.....
until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. You’ll know when that has happened because the dough will feel different. It will no longer feel sticky. The trick is to use a little flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the counter top but not so much that the dough becomes hard and dry.
Continue to press down, fold and turn the bread dough for somewhat longer than the mixer times in our recipes. The dough is kneaded well when you get that ah-hah feeling that it is smooth and elastic. Then you are ready to go on to the next step in your recipe.
Many people find this process of pushing and turning, pushing and turning very relaxing. You might, too!
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