Kneading the dough allows gluten to develop and helps distribute the air produced by the yeast evenly. This creates the conditions for the production of a porous and airy dough, in other words, a delicious dough.
Part 1 of 3: prepare the dough before kneading it
Step 1. Prepare the surface on which you are going to work the dough
It is easier to knead on a flat surface that comes to you at waist level. Prepare the counter, table, or other stable surface by cleaning it with warm water and soap and then wiping it dry with a clean towel. Sprinkle flour on the surface so that the dough does not stick when you go to knead it.
- Some recipes require kneading the dough in a bowl. In this case, the dough should be kneaded for only one or two minutes. For recipes that require more than three minutes of kneading, you will need a flat surface.
- If you don't want to knead the dough directly on the table or counter, you can lay out parchment or waxed paper sprinkled with flour. Some kitchen stores sell non-stick surfaces that make it easier to knead the dough.
Step 2. Mix the ingredients in your dough following the chosen recipe
The basic ingredients of a bread dough are flour, baking powder, salt and water. Mix the ingredients well with a wooden spoon in preparation for kneading.
- If flour remains on the sides of the container, the dough is not ready to be kneaded. Keep stirring with the spoon until all the ingredients are combined.
- If you start to have trouble stirring the wooden spoon in the dough, it is ready to be kneaded.
Step 3. Put the dough on your work surface
Pour it from the bowl directly onto the surface you have prepared. It should form a soft, sticky ball. She is now ready to be kneaded.
Part 2 of 3: knead the dough
Step 1. Wash your hands before you begin
Kneading the dough requires working it with your bare hands, wash and dry them well before you get to work. Remove your rings and other jewelry that could stick to the dough and roll up your sleeves so you don't get dirty. Since you are working on a floured surface, you may need to use an apron to protect your clothes.
Step 2. Gather the dough into a heap
When you dip your hands in the dough for the first time, it will be sticky and difficult to handle. Continue and work the dough with your hands, forming a ball, crushing it and reforming it. Continue until the dough is less sticky and easier to work with, or until you can form a ball without warping.
- If the dough doesn't seem to be getting less sticky, sprinkle a little flour on the counter and continue working the dough.
- You can lightly flour your hands to prevent the dough from sticking too much.
Step 3. Hit the dough
Press the palms of your hands into the paste, pressing down hard enough. This is called "hitting" the dough and helps the gluten to distribute itself. Keep doing this until the dough is firmer.
Step 4. Knead again
Fold the dough in half and flatten it again with the palms of your hands. Turn the dough slightly, fold it in half and flatten again. Do this for 10 minutes or as the recipe calls for.
- The kneading should be firm and rhythmic. Don't work too slowly; handle the dough quickly, not letting it sit too long between each movement.
- 10 minutes of physical work can be long. If you are tired, if possible ask someone to continue kneading for you.
Part 3 of 3: know when to stop kneading
Step 1. Check the texture of the dough
At first the dough is soft and sticky, but after 10 minutes of kneading it should be shiny and firm. It should stay a little sticky and elastic to the touch, but not too dry. If there are any lumps or sticky spots, continue kneading the dough.
Step 2. Check that the dough remains formed
Make a ball and drop it onto the work surface. Did the ball shape remain intact? If the dough is ready, it should stay in a ball shape.
Step 3. Pinch out the dough
It becomes firmer as the kneading progresses. Pinch the dough between two fingers. If it's ready, you should feel like you're pinching an earlobe. And the dough should regain its shape afterwards.
Step 4. Continue with your recipe
Most recipes recommend letting the dough sit in a place at room temperature for a few hours after the first kneading. When it has doubled in size, you may need to knead it again for a few minutes and then let it sit again before cooking it.
- If you've kneaded the dough until it's firm, airy, and shiny, your bread should have a crisp crust and a soft, chewy crumb.
- If you haven't kneaded the dough properly, the bread will be hard and flat.
- Cold, dry hands are best for kneading.
- Add as much flour as needed so that the dough is not sticky. In general, if you bake bread, you know you've added enough flour when the dough stops sticking to the surface. The amount of flour will vary depending on the humidity of the dough. If you are making something else, like cookie dough, add more flour following the recipe plus a little bit to keep it from sticking, but not too much.
- A dough squeegee can make cleaning easier. Any object with a flat, hard edge can work.
- Keep an eye on your watch as you knead, especially if the recipe calls for a specific kneading time. Kneading for 20 minutes can take a long time. But do not reduce this time.
- For easier cleanup, especially with sticky dough, wear disposable latex gloves when kneading.
- Try not to break the paw, just stretch it out.
- Differentiate between bread flour (for recipes with yeast) and pastry flour (for recipes without yeast). The first helps gluten to develop.
- For yeast-free pastries, you will need to knead just enough to get a soft, chewy dough with the ingredients well mixed. For bread dough, you need to spread the gluten, but gluten in yeast-free recipes can make bread hard.
- It is very difficult to knead too much by hand. But with a food processor, you can quickly knead the dough too much.