Kneading Bread Dough can be scary and intimidating at first. However, kneading dough is actually a simple and enjoyable process once you allow yourself to get comfortable with it. The key is to keep making bread.
Kneading Bread Dough
Okay, I am not going to be too technical here for I don’t have much of that stuff either. Simply put and in practicality, we knead dough to transform it from its initial state, which is shaggy, sticky, messy and without form- to something that is more refined, smooth and can hold its shape together.
I believe that once you think of kneading dough that way, it becomes less intimidating to try it. For a little fact mixed in, it is that kneading process that gives the dough the structure it needs to become bread.
When you knead, gluten develops in the dough allowing it to be elastic. And upon baking, it is that elasticity and structure that allows the bread to rise beautifully like a soft, delicious pillow.
How To Knead Bread Dough
- First off, dust your work surface with flour. Initially, an unkneaded dough is sticky. Some are more wet and stickier than the others. But always, you need a dusting of flour or more, in your work area.
- Turn the dough over on your floured board. Using the heels of your palms, push the dough down and away from you. In this action, you will also use your weight to push the dough down along with the heels of your palms.
- After the pushing motion, fold the dough towards you and push again. Repeat the pushing motion as described above then fold again. At some point, turn the dough after you fold it so you can knead on different portions of the dough. I don’t have any pattern for this but the idea is to turn it often. to make sure the kneading is well distributed.
During the initial stages of kneading, you might need to dust your work surface and your hands if the dough is sticking too much that you can’t work with it. But be sure to not overdo it because too much flour can make your dough dry, which is a signal that the ingredients proportion are off. So a sprinkle here and there as needed is fine.
- The dough will gradually lose its stickiness and it will become easier to handle. You will notice that it will be smoother and pillowy as you progress into kneading.
How Can I Tell If I Kneaded Enough?
Once I see my dough is smooth, elastic and becoming nice-looking, I start testing using the windowpane method. It is my security verification. Some bakers do not do this. Maybe for the reason that once you know the feel of a kneaded dough, you will be confident at the end and you know just by “feeling” the dough.
You will know too, visually and by feeling it. But that will happen once you have made bread by hand enough times. I believe, confidence builds up that way. And for me, windowpane test has become a natural thing to do. I always do it without even thinking about it, like a double guarantee.
The Windowpane Test
Tear a small portion of the smooth dough, about 2 tablespoons. Gently stretch it out using your fingers to form a square. A translucent film should form in the center. That is telling you that the dough is elastic enough. (Watch the video for the windowpane test at the end).
If the dough tears instead of forming a translucent film, knead it for a for a moment longer. Repeat the windowpane test until the dough is stretchy enough to form that film.
The Feel of a Kneaded Dough
Once you have made bread by hand enough times, you will find that you can disregard all the things I have said here because, by experience, you can be free of any technicality of the process and view it as something that you know how to do by heart.
That is not to say that I am an expert because I am not. I still under knead. I still get dough that don’t rise at all and I have bread fails very often. It is just that I have learned to let go and become less intimidated and just view bread making as a fun process.
So go ahead, make a mess and have fun. With just flour, sugar, milk/water and yeast, you can make bread that will fill your house with an amazing aroma. Bread is so much fun to make and you can do many things with them- fill them, shape them, top them with anything you like. It is magic!
Read to Start your Bread BakingJourney? Here are some Recipes For You:
- Sweet Beehive Buns
- Japanese Condensed Milk Bread
- Japanese Milk Buns
- Chelsea Buns
- Sweet Cheese Rolls
- Honey Buns with Honey Cream Filling
- Milk and Sugar Mini Buns
- Sweet and Buttery Sugar Buns