Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jun 23, 2013 09:34 AM

Kneading Question

For those of us unlucky people that do not have a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook...what is the proper technique for kneading dough. I normally mix everything with the hand mixer and as soon as its impossible to mix anymore I start the kneading.

However I've come across recipes that mix in the softened butter by kneading and others that never even use the mixer and just knead in all the flour and butter by hand. So I dont know if the variations just depends on personal choice or whether it does make a difference.

Any preferences to how to do it to ensure the bread ends up soft in the end? I mostly use yeast for sweet-like breads (cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, pull apart breads, etc)


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm even more primitive than are you. I mix flour with water using a wooden spoon in a glass bowl. However, butter never enters the mixture because I only bake bread with yeast and salt.

    Once the mixture has attained the desired consistency, flour is tossed on the surface upon which it is to be kneaded. The dough then is kneaded until it is ready for the rise phase. It is then placed in the same bowl after the bowl has been washed, dried and oiled.

    Kneading is good for me because it helps get rid of a lot of aggression, which lowers my blood pressure.

    I allow the dough to rise for about 16 hours before shaping it into a loaf or rolls. Why 16 hours? I never discard yeast. Sometimes the yeast is 6 years past the expiration date, and lots of fermentation is required for the yeast to keep reproducing new yeast.

    Believe me, it works...but I don't, I'm retired.

    1. It depends on how soft the dough is. If you're doing a more brioche type bread, it's almost like a taffy pull where I use wet hands and leave the dough in the bowl. But, for doughs w/ less butter, I do it on a well floured countertop. I don't ever use a hand mixer but will use the stand mixer. I'd rather just do it all by hand than to start w/ hand mixer because there is so little it adds to the whole process.

      1. So do you both use as much flour as needed to get the desired consistency or if a recipe says 3 cups you add 3 cups and then have some extra for the kneading part?

        9 Replies
        1. re: Lorry13

          A good recipe will describe the consistency you want. Some enriched doughs are very wet and some can be kneaded so it's supple. I start w/ the lower amount and then add as needed (or kneaded;-). It might help for you to see the recipe and what the dough looks like. Go to 6:10 here for flour and 9:30 for kneading here. It's by stand mixer but it would be the same consistency by hand.

          For the most part, I knead until the dough passes the window pane test (although brioche is too sticky for this).

          1. re: chowser

            Thanks for the links!

            Whenever I make cinnamon rolls I knead until its no longer sticky and they turn out fine but then again the filling and toppings keeps it moist.

            When I attempted to make sandwich bread I felt it came out too tough. Now I was looking at doughnut (fried version) recipes and they all seem to use a dough hook and have a lot of butter so I don't want to end up with hard, tough doughnuts just cause its easy to just keep on adding flour when you knead rather than letting the mixer do all the work.

            1. re: Lorry13

              Tough bread could be too much flour or too little rest time. For rest time, don't rely on time. The dough won't spring back when you poke it, or look for doubling in size (generally). If your dough is slack and you keep adding flour, try leaving it for 15 minutes first. The dough will absorb some of the liquid and make it easier to work with. It's similar to autolyse, where you mix flour and water and let it sit so the flour absorbs the water, but done later in the process.

              I can't help w/ doughnuts, sorry! Deep frying is my nemesis.

              1. re: chowser

                That's very helpful. I'm leaning towards me overdoing the flour since living in FL I think helps my dough rise faster than the time suggested on the recipes! I still wait the full time just to be safe. I like the idea of leaving the dough for awhile while kneading since I tend to hurry up in the early steps since I know there will be tons of time to cleanup and do other steps while the dough rises.

                Haha frying is not my thing either...reason why I love to bake =) Just running out of interesting challenging sweet yeast-based things to do so doughnuts/beignets sounds better than attempting some classic bread loafs or bagels (both on the very end of my to do list!).

                1. re: Lorry13

                  Don't go by time but by doubling or texture described. Time varies enormously by many factors.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Wait, so is it bad to let it rise for longer once its doubled in size? I've always been warned against not letting it rise for as long as necessary but not about letting it rise for too long.

                    1. re: Lorry13

                      If you let it rise too much, the bread could collapse on itself which could also be why you have tough texture. But, if it does that, it's normally pretty obvious w/ how much it falls when you poke it. If you want a longer rise time (which is better for texture/taste), let it rise slowly in the refrigerator.

              2. re: Lorry13

                Too tough? Does that indicate that the bread was too dense, that the fermentation holes were too small? Ciabatta dough may be the answer. It is a more moist dough with larger fermentation holes.

                BTW, 'ciabbata' is the word for 'slipper' in Italian, and it is used for a bread that is not necessarily symmetrical in shape. Thus is may look like an old slipper. Also, it works well for making sandwich rolls instead a loaf of bread.

                Vivi, ama, ridi e specialmente mangia bene ( Live, love, laugh and especially eat well).

                1. re: ChiliDude

                  When I tried sandwich bread (tried both a classic recipe and an oatmeal based one) I felt it was too dense even though I let it cool before I even cut it.

                  Don't know how much denser/tougher it was than what its supposed to be when made homemade. Definitely not like a fresh loaf bought at the local bakery, and those when I buy them have definitely not just come out of the oven.

          2. YouTube search bertinet method. It should help ESP with enriched doughs eg brioche

            2 Replies
              1. re: youareabunny

                Interesting kneading technique, I now really want to attempt doughnuts after seeing that video!

                Just worried I'm going to end up with a sticky mess on my tiny countertop! I'm not a French chef after all....