You probably love baking bread and pastries, but not the time you spend kneading the dough by hand. That said, if you think a stand mixer is a brilliant idea, think again. Hand kneading is actually better for your dough, and sometimes it’s even faster than using a stand mixer!
More than anything else, kneading dough is about time and technique. What do those two elements have to do with each other? A lot. This is where hand kneading has an edge over stand mixers.
HOW TO HAND KNEAD DOUGH:
There are basically two ways to hand knead dough. The first one is to push the dough down onto a flat surface and fold it back onto itself again and again for several minutes. This is usually called the slap and push method because you slap your hands down on the dough and then push it away from you before folding it over itself again.
The second way is to use a dough scraper to fold the dough over itself and then let it rest for a few minutes. Then you repeat the process for about 12-15 minutes. Both methods are good, but here is why dough hand-mixed with the slap and push method tends to be better:
People tend to be gentler when slapping the dough than when using a dough scraper. So, the slap and push method tends to create better texture. With both methods, you can add short resting periods in between rounds of kneading. This is important because your hands will get tired after about 5 minutes, which means you’ll need a break anyway. The slap and push method saves time because it minimizes resting periods.
Although hand kneading has a few advantages over stand mixers, there are a few variations of hand kneading that are better than others. In some cases, you can combine the best of both worlds. For example, hand kneading with the slap and push method is useful for basic bread doughs and pastries. However, kneading with a dough scraper is extremely useful for creating complex doughs and pastries. For example, if you want to make airy croissants, you need to use the dough scraper method.
It’s always best to test the quality of your dough by looking at it. See how it feels – does it feel soft and supple or firm and tight? A good indicator of how well your dough has developed is if the color of your dough changes after kneading. In other words, don’t expect the color of your dough (the amount of flour in your flour) to change after you first put it in a bowl and start adding water. On the other hand, at the end of a long kneading session, you should notice that your dough looks much paler. This means that the flour has been worked deeply into your dough and your gluten is much more developed.
WHAT YOU NEED:
High protein bread flour makes for better-tasting breads and pastries, so if you want to take a shortcut, use all-purpose flour instead. But if you want to go quality over quantity, look for bread flour in your local grocery store or specialty shop because it’s not easy to find elsewhere. If you have a stand mixer, you can use the dough hook for kneading. With a dough scraper, you’ll need a heavy wooden spoon with flat, rectangular handles or even a regular spatula. A peel will also work to transfer baked goods from the cookie sheet to the cooling racks.
PREPARE THE DOUGH:
Combine all of your ingredients on the counter top. It’s best if your hands are dry when kneading because it helps create better texture. If this is impossible, then it’s best to mix your flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer first and then add your other dry ingredients one at a time.
Knead by pushing down on the dough with your hands while rotating it forward and back. Remember to push the dough away from you with your left hand so that your right hand can fold it back onto itself. Knead 10-15 minutes (the exact time will vary depending on how dry and firm your flour is). You’ll notice that the stickiness of the dough will increase as well as how elastic the bread feels. If necessary, add a little more water or flour, but don’t overdue it because this could affect the quality of your bread. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest for 10 minutes so that you can finish kneading in 2-3 long sessions instead of one long one.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:
After the first session of kneading, you’ll notice that your dough will be a little less sticky than before and it will feel like a ball that you can pick up with your hands. As you knead the dough, more flour will appear on top of the dough. Sprinkle this new flour over your dough and then do another session of kneading. After you’re done, cover your bowl with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat this process 3 times so that you’ll give your dough about 45 minutes in total to rest. If you want to save time, just do two sessions because this is still enough time for the gluten to form properly.
When your kneading is done, your dough should have the consistency of Play-Doh. It might be a little stickier than Play-Doh in some cases, but remember that the flour you’re using could make it harder to use. Next, it’s time to shape your dough into what you want. If you’re making bread, then wait for about 60-90 minutes for your dough to proof and then bake as usual. If you want to make pastries or even sweet treats like cinnamon rolls or cinnamon swirl breads, then it’s time to add whatever flavorings and fillings you prefer so that your dough can rise again after shaping.
WHAT YOU NEED:
If you want to add fruit or nuts to your dough, then it’s best to do this right after kneading. Adding ingredients that are rich in fat like nuts or butter can ruin the texture of your dough. If you don’t want to add any flavors and simply want a bread-like texture, then you can wait till the end to add whatever flavorings you prefer. For example, if you’re making cinnamon rolls or pizza dough, then you’ll need to follow this process so that your dough can rise again before shaping it into whatever form you want.
If your kitchen is warmer than about 70 degrees F. then it’s best to store your dough in the refrigerator before shaping. When you’re ready to use it, take it out of the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will bring the temperature of the dough back down to room temperature so that you can work with it comfortably. Also, if you have time, let your kneaded bread rise at least 5 times from when you first mix all of your ingredients together. The more time your bread has for rising, the lighter and airier your bread will be.
Is it better to knead by hand or machine?
While both methods give great results, you can definitely tell a difference between hand kneading and machine kneading. For example, when kneading by hand, you’ll get a better feel for how the bread dough is developing. Also, if you’re making bread with your stand mixer, you can use its dough hook if your dough is soft enough.
On the other hand, machine kneading is faster because it doesn’t require the same amount of physical action as hand kneading. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t give you much control over how fast your ingredients fall into place or how firm they are.
Can I knead dough by hand instead of a mixer?
If you want to make bread from scratch at home, then I recommend that you use a stand mixer for all of your baking. You can certainly get by without a stand mixer, but this will require much more effort and it might even ruin your dough if you’re not careful. If you’re in a rush, it’s okay to use a mixer to knead the ingredients together, but don’t be surprised if it takes longer to develop the gluten properly than hand kneading would have done. However, if you prefer the taste and texture of store-bought bread to homemade bread, then go ahead and hand knead. It can take more time and effort, but the results will be worth it.
What if my dough is too stiff after kneading?
It’s important to note that adding water or flour to your dough will help add moisture or nutrition, but it won’t make your bread taste better. If you’re making a loaf of bread for toast, then feel free to add some water because you’ll want your bread to taste like something other than cardboard. However, if you’re making a sweet treat (like cinnamon rolls or cinnamon swirl breads), then be careful not to add too much water because it could ruin the texture of your treats.
Is kneading the same as mixing?
Mixing consists of more vigorous stirring and is often done by hand. For example, you might mix a batch of cookie dough by hand to get it to all come together. If, however, you want to create a product that rises and bakes without having large holes or falling apart after baking, then kneading is the better choice because it combines the ingredients over time.
Can I knead dough in my food processor?
You can bake bread in your food processor if you want to give yourself an extra challenge. However, I recommend that you use a mixer if possible since its dough hook will be able to handle your dough easier.
Does a mixer replace kneading?
No, a mixer can’t replace kneading because it can’t work with your ingredients the same way that you can. For example, if you add too much water to your dough, then a stand mixer won’t be able to diagnose the problem like you will.
If I knead by hand for more than five minutes, will my blood circulate better?
No, if you use this odd idea as an excuse to stay fit then you’re not only wasting your time but also likely hurting yourself in the process. The only way to get better at anything (including kneading) is to practice and learn from what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to make bread with your stand mixer, then it might be a good idea to knead the ingredients together for about five minutes. If you think that the dough is too firm, then add a little more water or flour. Keep in mind that you’ll get better at kneading as you go and that your dough might taste better if it’s not super firm. Also, if you have time, let your risen bread rise at least 5 times before using it to bake bread items like cinnamon rolls or cinnamon swirl breads.