Basic Hand Kneading

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Kneading Methods

Here's a good basic hand kneading technique:

Dough on bench



This technique can be used at any stage of the development of your dough. It will cause the gluten to progressively layer evenly, thereby getting better development each 'turn'.

Place the dough with the seam facing you (in other words upside down) on the bench.





Flattening dough with knuckles



Flatten out the ball of dough with your knuckles. Fold into a longitudinal rectangle and flatten again with your knuckles. Go for evenness at first, both in thickness and width. (Try poking the dough down with the tips of your fingers to even out the dough before flattening it).





Rolling dough into a cylinder



Roll up into a cylinder. After it's rolled, turn the cylinder sideways (pointing the cylinder in front of you), flatten again with your knuckles, and roll up again.

Place the ball of dough back into the dough box, cover and rest.

Repeat the same thing in approximately fifteen minute intervals for the first hour or two of dough development - as many as six turns can go into the dough. Each turn takes only a minute, and is very clean, as no flour or water is added.

Of course, you can also simply do one of these turns at the beginning of the proofing period, and another at the end. But the more of these turns you can get into any dough, the better the bread wil be.






Rolled and ready for a turn



Putting a number repeated turns into a dough, resting properly in between each turn, will provide the same level of development as a machine made dough achieves.

A combination of chemistry and mechanics does the work, and simplicity is something I love in any recipe.

You don't need to knead with a machine - but even if you were keen on using a mixer, the same technique (rest then work) will bring amazing results!



General Kneading Tips:

  • Remember, the more turns you can get into the dough, the lighter your finished bread will be. You will notice that with each successive turn, the dough feels silkier and more elastic. It begins to 'glow'. Really!

Gassed Dough



  • Once the dough begins to feel slightly sticky or tacky, that's about it - after this point, all your efforts will have a negative effect. Leave it alone now. It will recover.

  • If a dough is really soft (that is, if it runs all over the bench in only a few minutes after kneading) you may find that adding a little sifted or 'flung' flour over the dough will make it easier to handle.

  • Firmer doughs require more turns, with longer rests between them.

  • The more the dough 'gases' between turns, the more brittle the gluten becomes. Thus, the more it will 'stand up'. If your bread is flopping over, this is as good a place as any to start. More turns!

  • Don't think like you are 'kneading' - you are flattening, rolling into a cylinder, turning through 90 degrees, flattening again, rolling into a cylinder again and so on! It's a bit like combing gluten strands into mats and then into carpets, as the strands begin to line up. The 'stretching' action ensures that the gluten falls into line with itself.

  • Have a look at a slice of baked bread. Does it 'glisten' or shine at all? Have a look at your dough. Is it beginning to shine? Turning and resting traps oxygen between sheets of gluten. This oxygen interacts with the gluten, causing it 'shine'. It's what you are after. Dough that shines makes better lasting, better tasting and better looking bread.

All the recipes in this site are deigned for simplicity, so they don't specify a lot of this sort of stuff - but as you progress into your 'baker self', you will want to develop your doughs more. There are a whole lot more techniques for making dough 'develop' like a pro, and many of them are even easier than this one. But this one is a beauty, and will prove to be very useful in all aspects of table work.

Get your hands into some dough, and return to REAL. It's easier than you think!

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