How to knead bread dough
12 June 2020

How to Knead Bread Dough

The kneading process is vital in the production of bread, as it is during this time that the gluten network is developed, and so the structure of the bread is created. The process of kneading causes the proteins in the dough to go from a random pattern to a line structure, creating strength and structure. When kneading bread dough it is important to make sure that the dough is worked well, as the bubbles of carbon dioxide formed in fermentation will be held within this structure to give the bread a light and airy texture.

How to knead dough

The process of kneading bread dough is quite simple, but it is important to make sure that you are doing it right, to prevent negatively affecting the bread dough. We will go through how to knead bread dough by hand below, to make sure you have everything you need to make great bread.

Make sure you have plenty of space, with a surface where you can stretch your arms to full length.
Lightly sprinkle the surface with flour, and scrape the dough mix onto the table.
Using the heel of your hand, push the dough downwards and away from you, applying a good amount of pressure.
Fold the dough in half to a similar size it was to start with, then repeat steps 3 and 4 whilst turning by 45 degrees occasionally, making sure to turn through one full 360 degree turn during the kneading process.

How long to knead bread dough

The process of kneading dough by hand should take around 10 minutes, but this is not an exact science, as it will depend on the size of the weight of dough, so it is important to understand how to tell that the dough has been worked enough and the structure has been developed. There is a very easy way to test if the dough has been kneaded enough, with the so-called windowpane test. To do this test, you remove a small amount of dough and stretch it between your fingers to see if it breaks. If it does break it needs to be kneaded more, if it does not break then it is ready to shape.
If you keep to this system you should avoid over kneading the dough, and you can tell if this is happening as it will make the dough feels dense and tough. If you feel it has been over kneaded, then you can try leaving it for a little longer on the second prove to help the dough to relax. This will not completely solve the problem but will help to reduce the negative effects on the dough.

Kneading dough with a mixer or kneading dough by hand

For some, they may wish to make bread with a bread maker or a table top machine instead of by hand. The process of kneading needs to be considered when using a machine of any kind, as it will be different to doing it by hand.
When using a bread maker, the machine may have a setting that incorporates the kneading process, so it is always worth checking your specific bread makers instructions.
If you are planning on using your tabletop mixer, then again do make sure that you check it much more regularly, checking after 3 minutes on low speed with a dough hook. Use the above windowpane test to make sure it is kneaded correctly, which on a slow mixer should be around 6 minutes total.

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