Bread Class
Lesson 5: Kneading
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Introduction: Kneading

In breadmaking, we work doughs in many many ways. By kneading, folding, and stretching the dough, we help recently hydrated flour that has formed all that delicious gluten becomes organized into a structure that encourages evenly developed fermentation. The more you mix, stretch and work the dough, the tougher the gluten network becomes. Kneading pushes air into the dough's gluten network while encouraging elasticity and consistency of hydration and temperature.

This kind of dough requires about 10 minutes of kneading. The kneading process smooths, lengthens and stretches the gluten strands. You can feel that kneading is complete when the dough no longer sticks to your hands and has a smooth and consistent texture. This bulk mass will expand and rise as the yeast ferments and releases gasses.

You can also check gluten development in your kneaded dough by performing what is called a 'Window Pane Test'.

The Window Pane test is performed by taking a small piece of dough off the kneaded dough mass and pinching it between your thumbs and first two fingers. If you can expand your fingers, stretching the dough into a thin sheet that is translucent when held up to a light source, your gluten is developing!

This is a beautiful example of what your dough should look like, from noahw's Instructable about Woodfired Bagels. YUM!

If the dough rips while you are stretching and checking for development, add your sample piece back into the larger mass and continue kneading for a few minutes until you re-test to achievea glow coming through an even sheet of dough.

Place your dough into a clear bowl so that you may monitor its development progress, and allow to rest for 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.