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Jan 25, 2008 09:06 PM

Kneading dough in stand mixer - first timer, please help!

I am test driving a friend's Kitchenaid Artisan stand mixer to see if it's worth purchasing for bread-baking, and I ran across some problems with mixing and kneading bread dough.

I started with the White Mountain bread recipe (a sandwich type loaf bread) from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger, which I have made successfully by hand a few times. Using the stand mixer, and following the recipe's suggested guidelines, my dough ended up a mess - sticky, wet, would not hold together. I did not know what else to do but keep adding flour, hoping it would help the dough start to "pull away" from the bowl, but it would just quickly end up absorbed in the dough - I think I ended up putting in like 1 1/2 c more flour than the recipe called for! I ended up pulling it out and hand-kneading (adding even MORE flour - I know, disastrous!) and the bread turned out super chewy and not so great. I took a look at the Kitchenaid manual for help on this issue, and it states that for bread doughs you should never use the paddle attachment, only the dough hook, from the get-go (Hensperger's recipe said start with paddle, then switch to dough hook when dough comes together). OK, so I decided to try her pita recipe, this time using only the dough hook, but the same thing happened, in that I ended up adding an additional cup of flour beyond the recipe's amount, and got a really crusty and hard pita. Yuck.

So I need some help on basics of kneading dough in a stand mixer - how long do I need to knead for usually (for simple white breads) before it starts to come together? Is it ever okay to add MORE flour than called for if the dough looks too sticky? If the dough doesn't bunch on the hook and pull away, is it not ready to come out? I should mention that I am still a novice baker so I could use all the help I can get! Thanks!

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  1. Yeast doughs mixed by machine benefit from an autolyse, a period of rest after the ingredients are first mixed. Mix the ingredients using the paddle, but just give the paddle a couple of terms to let the flour, liquid, and yeast combine roughly. Turn it off for 20 or 30 minutes. Then knead with the dough hook. The autolyse lets the flour absorb the liquid, and you'll end up with a lighter loaf. The Kitchenaid is a gift to home bakers, but you still have to know your dough.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PSZaas

      This is really good advice, and I appreciate it. I can't remember how I found this link within Chowhound, but I have an older KitchenAid with more accessories than know-how, and this is a real solid tip.


      1. re: PSZaas

        That totally makes sense to go through a period of autolyse - being a novice baker, I had only read about the process. I love how neither Hensperger's book nor the Kitchenaid manual has suggested this! Thanks for the advice - I will definitely go with the rest period next time!

        1. re: sogi

          I often wonder if they're just keeping secrets. I only heard the word "autolyse" last year and it was only a few years ago that I read about checking the internal temperature to see if the bread is done. And these books still don't talk about weighting the ingredients of baker's per centages. I suppose some of the newer artisanal bread baking books tell all, but what took so long!

      2. Heh, heh, I get to throw stones at yet another cookbook author. IMHO, you should take all of Ms. Hensperger's books and use them for kindling next time you start a warm, crackling fire in the fireplace. I had several books by this author, and found them to be: ridiculous, wrong, never tested, simply invented in front of the computer at the word processor, and terribly unknowledgeable and unreliable.

        May I humby recommend a more reliable learning tool:
        "Baking With Julia"
        Here, the instructions will clearly state if the recipe works with a mixer (not all bread recipes will work in a mixer, despite what you may have read; to this day, I still do not have one, and insist on making all breads at home by hand and NOT in the mixer), and exactly how to do it correctly.

        Sadly, in a mixer, there are no real rules. It varies greatly depending on what you are doing; the techniques for a classic French baguette are totally different from a whole wheat bread. Get Julia's book, and have the patience to work through her tested, reliable recipes.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jerry i h

          You know, I actually had a hunch that this book was not all it was cracked up to be - I had bought in on Amazon based on positive reviews on that site, but upon revisiting the reviews, it seemed most were from beginner bakers that had tried a few recipes from the book before writing these glowing reviews. I find the book to be a little annoying as well - I can't pinpoint specific examples, but I recall noticing certain discrepancies in her instructions and descriptions; and the section on technique and background and such is so short! Thanks for confirming my hunch - I think I will move on to Julia (always reliable) or try Berenbaum's Bread Bible instead.

          1. re: sogi

            Sorry about the tirade, but not my personal feelings. I was not very helpful, so permit me to continue:
            1) always start with the paddle, but only for a minute or so. You are trying to just stir to get the flour to absorb the liquid. Once the liquid is gone and you have a 'shaggy' mass, switch to the dough hook.
            2) turn the mixer to low, and allow the the dough hook to knead the dough to the proper texture. Assuming that the recipe author has done his/her job correctly, you will have a clear instruction when the dough is 'done'.
            3) if we assume that the recipe is correct and has been tested, do not add more flour than indicated. There are many doughs (started, I believe, from the CIA) that so wet and gooey, that you will never be able to knead it on your cutting board; a mixer is the only way to knead these wet doughs. To this day, there are some doughs that I cannot do at home because I do not have a mixer [sigh...].
            What won me over was Julia's insistence that all recipes be thoroughly tested and correct. These reliable recipes are the actual ones prepared during taping of her TV show. The guest bakers are all professionals, and she insisted that the recipes be OK for the typical home baker who maybe mostly clueless.
            Levy-Beranbaum's new bread book is definitely on my to-do list of things to buy next. I have her cake and pastry books, and am duly impressed.

        2. Hi Sogi,
          You said you were trying out a friend's stand mixer to see if it's worth purchasing for bread making but have you thought of purchasing a bread machine instead? If that's the main reason you'd be looking to buy one, a bread machine is a more affordable option. I use mine for making the dough only as I find it still bakes better in an oven than in the machine but it kneads the dough perfectly. It's so easy to just throw the ingredients in the pan and then you can even set the dough to be ready in the morning for when you wake up!

          1 Reply
          1. re: allyb

            I do own a bread machine, and you are absolutely right it makes good dough that can be baked off in the oven, but I plan to use the stand mixer for as many tasks as possible and am hoping it can help with my breadmaking as well. Plus the KA would look much cuter on my kitchen counter than my bulky bread machine. Yes, I am a total small appliance junkie! :)

          2. If you are a novice breadmaker, it might be best to stick with recipes that specifically give you instructions on how to make bread in the stand mixer. These recipes should also describe to you what the dough should look/feel like at the end of kneading. I find that kneading times in the stand mixer are a little less than if you were to knead by hand. As well, recipes that give you weight measurements of ingredients are much more accurate than those by volume. I find that in the winter, I use a little less flour than I do in the summer because of the dryness from heating the house.
            Stand mixers are especially excellent for wetter doughs (i.e. ciabatta and foccacia) that would normally stick on the counter when hand kneading. If you are kneading firmer doughs in the stand mixer, then I would not wander too far away as the mixer has a tendency to "walk" along the counter.
            Rose Berenbaum's Bread Bible is a good resource for beginners. Not all of the recipes in there are worth making, but she does a good explanation of the process of breadmaking (i.e. autolyse, cold fermentation etc...). The one recipe that is in there that I make frequently is the Basic Hearth Bread.
            Aside from just making bread, the stand mixer is a wonderfully versatile piece of kitchen equipment. You might want to run a search on kitchen aid mixers. I think that some people have found the quality of new KitchenAid mixers to have declined. I have never had a problem with mine. There are a number of other stand mixers out on the market nowadays.

            1. You got some good replies. One was to use recipes that call for a stand mixer. When you convert a recipe, your dough will not pick up the flour that it would have when hand kneading. Should you covert, though, go a little heavier on the flour (if given a range, use the top figure), machine knead, but then finish by hand. Put the dough on a pretty well-floured board or mat and knead, properly, for ten turns. I've found that to be a reliable trick to get the right dough quality using my Kitchenaid.
              Next point: I seldom use the Kitchenaid for kneading unless the recipe calls for it, as in stirato style French breads. It's great for those. My best small kneader for most breads, though, is my Zojirushi bread machine. It's a great combination kneader/proofing box for up to two pounds of dough, even if I don't bake in it. Again - it's best to use a recipe designed for a bread machine or mixer, or adjust the flour/liquid ratio to that for the most similar recipe for your machine. I assume you're doing smaller quantities, so I won't get into kneaders for multiple loaves.
              Third, I rise in defense of Beth Hensperger. I don't have, so can't comment, on the book panned by another commenter, although I wonder how he can be so certain of her writing and research technique. Perhaps he knows her personally. The Bread Bible did win a James Beard Award, so there has been at least some positive review. Her book The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook is the best bread machine book I've come across. The recipes are completely reliable, thoroughly tested, and quite varied. I also use her book The Pleasure of Whole-grain Breads as a source for bread machine baking.
              Fourth - most breads will benefit from an autolyse rest at some point, although it's not necessary. I will frequently retard a loaf overnight in the fridge if I have time. I sometimes do spend days on a loaf of bread. When I need more instant gratification, I use a bread machine.
              Conclusion - I wouldn't recommend the Kitchenaid just as a bread kneader. Get the Zojirushi instead, if that's what you want, or the Electrolux DLX.. But a stand mixer - and the Kitchenaid is a good one - is nearly indispensable for doughs that are stirred (breads and thick batters), and terribly useful for many things like whipping and folding. And they do look nice on the counter.