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Sep 11, 2008 09:32 PM

Help - Bread Kneading Question

Hi! I recently found a soft pretzel recipe that I want to try. The recipe calls for using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, but I don't have that so I am doing this the old fashion way. I've heard (and read on the internet) that you usually double the amount of time called for in the recipe if you're kneading by hand (my recipe calls for 5 minutes on medium) so does that mean I should expect to be spending around 10 minutes kneading?

I know it's hard work, and I'm okay with that. I just don't want to think that I am finished well before I am, or to work the dough too much. I am definitely a novice when it comes to making home made food, so any suggestions would be appreciated!


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  1. I wouldn't knead based on time (i.e. 10 minutes or 5 minutes).

    You work the dough based on feel. That's the magic of working with dough. Do it often enough and you'll just "know" when the dough is ready.

    Essentially, what you want is to knead the dough until it is soft, smooth and elastic. If it becomes sticky, sprinkle a bit of flour, but not too much.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks for all the great replies! I guess I am nervous about my ability to judge when it's done (the unknown is scary!) but I am going to go ahead and try it this weekend. I'll make sure I have enough ingredients for a couple tries, as I really want this to work. I'm diligent, so I'm sure I can do it eventually. Maybe this is the beginning of a newfound love for baking bread at home : D

      And I didn't think about doing it on the table versus the counter, but I am shorter, so I'll probably do that.

      Thanks again people!

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I basically agree, with a small quibble. Although stock answer is to produce a "soft,smooth,elastic" dough; many breads do work better with a more sticky dough; even though this is harder to work with. Although kneading by hand does have tactile benefits, a machine with a dough hook does allow for easier handling of the more sticky doughs. I do not specifically know about pretzel dough.

      2. Using a timer is for machines and can lead to inferior bread anyways since the time required varies by the environment of the kitchen.

        Kneed by feel on a floured surface (your counter will do). If the dough needs more flour it will quickly take it off the counter, if it does this just add more. Also make sure you flour your hands or bad things happen.

        It might take a few tries to know what the right consistency is but generally it needs to be smooth and elastic and not sticky. Sticky means too much water. If it likes to crack into pieces it needs more water (ditto if its a brick)

        1. Here's a simple idea, strictly on the mechanics of kneading. If you're short, kneading on the table in stead of the counter may make this a whole lot easier.

          1 Reply
          1. re: yayadave

            or stand on a short stool! I do this when I need better leverage working on a counter!

            Funny, I just saw the soft pretzel roll recipe on the home page of Chow today and want to try and find time to make them. I am in Seattle (Mercer Island) but we have a wonderful little German deli/restaurant that makes that has the best pretzel rolls only on Thursday and Friday and I have always wanted to try to make them. Can't wait!

          2. When you knead the dough you are developing the gluten inside. That's what makes the elastic texture. You can pinch off a handful of the dough and begin to stretch it with your fingers in all directions. If your dough is stringy, sticky, and comes apart, more kneading is required.

            When the dough is ready you should be able to pull it until it is an almost transparent sheet before it tears.