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Thread: Kneading bread dough by hand

  1. #1
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    Question Kneading bread dough by hand

    Okay - I think I'm going to brave another attempt at bread making. The part that drives me nuts about it is the dough sticking all over my hands.

    Is this normal? I add flour but it doesn't seems to help and I'm afraid of adding too much. Could it be that I'm just not kneading it long enough (having read other bread-making posts, I know I'm not)? Does it get less sticky as you work with it?

  2. #2
    JennyFal Guest
    If your bread is sticky you haven't added enough flour. The dough should feel like an earlobe. Adding the final flour a little at a time while kneading should help you avoid adding too much. With yeast bread you really can't overknead....although you can underknead.

  3. #3
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    Try lightly greasing your hands

    (use nonstick cooking spray). That should take care of matters.

    You might also wish to take off your rings.

    My mother says that kneading bread dough is one way to get rid of your frustrations. Certainly, it's enjoyable to feel the dough getting more and more elastic.

    Hope the bread turns out well!
    Nothing in the history of mankind can foul things up quicker than a computer
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  4. #4
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    When you dump the dough onto your board, sprinkle the board heavily with flour. Then be sure to flour both your hands!
    Grab the dough, punch it down, turn it 1/4 turn, do the same things, and continue kneading and turning the dough. Slap the
    darn thing down hard, takes care of all your agressions
    It helps to have a "dough scraper". You can scrape the dough off the board so it won't stick. Usually you need to knead for 10 minutes or more to get it to be a nice firm ball that does no longer stick to the board.
    I usually use the bread machine for bread, but for my yeast coffee cakes I still do them from scratch. Made some coffee cake yesterday to take along to the bbq that my sons had. I also brought my sourdough bread I didn't have to cook, but I sure had to bake! LOVE BAKING!
    Curleytop

  5. #5
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    Julia Child gave instructions for kneading with her classic French bread recipe (which should start out a bit wet or sticky) in which she suggested using a dough scraper in one hand (probably your left if you are right handed) to lift and fold, even turn the dough, then the other hand (probably your right) to push the dough and add flour if necessary. I use this method with sticky doughs so I can keep one hand clean (handy for reaching for the phone or whatever while kneading) and to minimize the amount of flour I have to add (to help keep the bread light).

    The other way to keep your hands cleaner is to use a mixer with a dough hook, if you have one, for the initial part of the kneading. IMO, the kneading should always be finished by hand so you can check its elasticity and feel. You'll know what I mean when you've done it a few times.


    I've seen other methods, even slapping the dough down on a board or counter. This is one of those areas where you can develop your own style and flair...there's no set way to knead, as long as you keep stretching and working the dough. If in doubt, do some more. Good luck.

  6. #6
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    success!

    you inspired me...I baked my first bread tonight. It's a regular old white loaf from a cookbook I got on the discount shelf at Barnes and Noble. I thought the dough would never come together...for about 15 minutes I was buried wrist-deep in dough (i don't have a food processor or dough hook--this was totally from scratch and by hand!) and I guess the action of trying to free my hands was a pretty good kneading technique. But it finally came toghether into a beautiful ball, and it rose and everything...

    I just took the loaves out of the oven, and one seems pretty hard, but the other seems springy to the touch.So, I guess I am no longer a complete novice, but I think it will take a few more tries to get it right!

    And I don't recommend doing this without a mixer...my forearms are pretty sore!

    Rebecca

  7. #7
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    Good for you, Rebecca! I make bread completely by scratch, too (no dough hook, and NO bread machine!!) I can't think of anything more wholesome or rewarding! Good luck in your future bread adventures!
    Write your hurts in sand, carve your blessings in stone.

  8. #8
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    If you spray your countertop with Pam you should have no trouble with the sticking....or you could use a Kitchen-Aid mixer and the bread will be perfect! I have made bread for years with little touble...if you have questions I will try to help
    Margie

  9. #9
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    Beckms, make sure you use a wooden or other stiff spoon until the dough starts to form a ball or gets too stiff to stir, then dump it out. Try the scraper method for starting your kneading. One hand will get a bit gunky, but the other can stay clean. Congrats on a first-time success. (Where's the smiley with a chef's hat on?)

  10. #10
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    Word to the wise - - - be sure to remove your rings. Last week I had to visit the jeweler and have him remove hardened dough from underneath the stones in two of my rings. It took him about a half an hour to get it out of my engagement ring - - -he was getting closer and closer to removing the stone to get under it. I was also informed that it was the first engagement ring that he ever had to remove dough from. (Yes, most people don't leave their rings on . . .)

    He told me next time - I better bring him a loaf of bread to remove the dough. Needless to say - I just bought a ring holder for the kitchen.

  11. #11

    Cool

    Originally posted by JennyFal
    ... The dough should feel like an earlobe...
    I never thought about that, but that's an absolutely perfect way of putting it. Thanks. I'll have to remember that one.

  12. #12
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    Here are some ideas I've learned from years and years of baking bread. LOL My first loaf of bread looked like Melba toast, good but weird looking.

    You apparently *can* need to much. When you can stick two fingers into the dough and the dough springs back up, it's been kneaded enough. No two people knead bread exactly the same way but you should use your whole body, not just your arms, pushing with both hands away from you and pulling it back, turning it about a quarter turn each time. I time myself but you can evenutally feel the bread change from a lump of dough to a smooth living thing.
    When dough sticks to your hands you can do everything suggested but you can also butter or oil your hands for really sticky doughs and some are supposed to be sticky. I have HayDay's Herbed Peasant bread rising as we type, and it's a terribly sticky dough. When you make rolls adding too much flour will make them heavy and dense. Some breads like Brioche are the same, so use the scraper (and don't buy a Bench Knife, they're different and sharp. A Bench Scraper is dull but still able to scrape dough from the table). You can use your bench scraper to scrape dough from your hands and you can just knead those scrapings back into the dough unless it's been kneaded enough.
    When a dough's risen enough, when you press two fingers into it, the depressions remain.
    When bread's done, you can tap on it to see if it sounds hollow but the best way it to tip it out of the pan and test it through the bottom with an instant read thermometer. It should read between 190 and 200F.
    You're supposed to let bread cool completely before cutting but that's one tip I haven't mastered yet. I love warm bread fresh from the oven and these herbs are smelling soooooo good!
    Have fun with your bread dough, don't be gentle.

  13. #13
    JennyFal Guest
    Searcher,
    HayDay's Herbed Peasant bread...now I'm intrigued. Please describe this bread & post the recipe if you don't mind.

  14. #14
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    Hi Jenny,

    This is a bread we bought at Hayday in Westport, CT for years. The last time we were there I couldn't find the store, it's either moved or is gone. Their web site is gone too. I'm doubly glad I bought their cookbook several years ago. I've been making this bread in loaf pans for ages but now that there are just the two of us I make it in 8 mini bread pans. I divide the dough into half, then half and half again, to have 8 fairly equal pieces, and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are evenly golden brown. The scallions for the herb bread I slice thinly then chop with a chef's knife, the dill and parsley I put in a measuring cup and snip with sissors. It smells heavenly while rising and even better while baking. I use my KitchenAid mixer but it's possible to get a good loaf without it.Hay Days Peasant Bread
    Makes 2 loaves



    Peasant Bread was Hay Days very first bread twenty years ago, and it was an immediate hit - people love it for both toast and sandwiches. Its a soft pan bread that, unlike crusty hearth breads, keeps well when wrapped in plastic. The unusual combination of yeast and baking soda gives it a chewy, moist English-Muffin texture. Peasant Bread is unconventional - it is too sticky to be kneaded. Slow stirring replaces the kneading process to develop the gluten (and therefore the structural strength) in the dough. In the Hay Day bakeries, the bread is baked as a round loaf, but the size of their pans isnt readily available to home cooks. So, they suggest you use a standard loaf pan instead.

    1 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
    teaspoon baking soda
    cup cool water
    5 -6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
    1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


    Combine the hot water, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir quickly to dissolve the yeast and sugar; let stand until the mixture is nice and bubbly on top, about 5 minutes.

    In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the cool water. Combine with the yeast mixture.

    In a large bowl, stir 5 cups of the flour with the salt. Over a period of 10-15 minutes, gradually stir the flour into the liquid, using a large wooden spoon or the paddle attachment on a heavy-duty mixer set on low speed. The mixture should form an elastic dough that just begins to ball up and pull away from the sides of the bowl in ribbons. Work in enough of the remaining flour with your hands to make a firm yet sticky dough that comes together in a ball. It should not be as firm as traditional bread dough and will be too sticky to knead in the traditional manner. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set it aside to rest at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size, 1-1/12 hours.

    Butter two 5-6 cups loaf pans

    Using buttered hands, turn the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Shape the halves and tuck them inside the prepared pans. Set the loaves aside, uncovered, in a warm, draft free place until they have doubled in size and risen about 1 inch above the sides of the pan, about 2 hours.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Brush the tops of the loaves with the melted butter, arrange the pans on a baking sheet and bake until crisp and nicely browned on top, 30 minutes. (The loaves will not have risen further.) To test for doneness, tap the bottom of a loaf. If it sounds hollow, the bread is done. Turn them out of the pans to cool on a wire rack. Slice thickly and use for toast and sandwiches. The bread will keep well for 2-3 days stored in an airtight plastic bag or in plastic wrap.


    Variations


    Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Peasant Bread


    Substitute the following:

    1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose.

    Add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients.

    Decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon.

    Mix 2 cups raisins into the dough just before the first rising.



    Herbed Peasant Bread


    Good with a bowl of homemade soup, turkey, roast beef or cheese sandwiches. Its excellent for home made croutons.


    Before the first rising, stir 3 Tablespoons each of chopped fresh dill, parsley and scallions (green onions) into the dough. (Rinse and dry the herbs thoroughly before chopping.)

  15. #15
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    Do you REALLY want to knead the dough by hand? If you have a food processor it will handle this chore beautifully. Use the smallest quantity of the range of flour given. Put flour and dry ingredients into the bowl first, then start the machine and add the liquieds through the feed tube. If you have enough flour the dough will form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it stays craggy and sticks to the bowl add 1/4-1/2 cup more flour. When the dough is just right it will pull away from the bowl and have a smooth surface with almost a blistery texture. It will feel like a baby's bottom.


    Then all you have to do is put the dough onto your counter, sprinkled with a bit of flour. Let it rest for 10 mnutes to relax the gluten and form your bread. It's a piece of, er...bread!

  16. #16
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    Originally posted by Adriana
    Do you REALLY want to knead the dough by hand? If you have a food processor it will handle this chore beautifully.


    Oh, but there's something so sensual about kneading bread
    ~Kim~

    Nashville Restaurant Examiner - check out my page
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    "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
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  17. #17
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    time limits?

    I'm going to attempt to make Searcher's HayDay's Herbed Peasant Bread this afternoon.

    My question: are rising times exact? That is, can I prepare the dough and leave it to rise all morning and then do the second rise and baking in the afternoon? Will it fall if I leave it for more than a couple hours?

    Rebecca

  18. #18
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    No, rising times are not exact. They are guidleines for the time dough will take to rise at room temp. And yes, dough can fall if left too long.

    Rising speed related to temperature: when the temp is cooler it will take longer to rise. When warmer, dough will rise faster. You can usually let dough rise overnight in the refrigerator, but if your day hours won't be quite that long, make sure you have turned the dough to coat with oil or spray (I have even sprayed the top lightly to make sure it doesn't dry out), cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, let it get started for 10-15 minutes before you put it in the fridge.

    Good luck on your adventure. Have fun!

  19. #19
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    Hi Rebecca,
    Sorry, I didn't see your post until just now. Beth is right, rising times aren't exact. Temperature has a lot to do with rising time too. I made this bread two days ago and it took almost 4 hours to rise after I'd shaped into loaves. And 3 weeks ago, it took 2 hours total, first rise and last.

    Also, I usually don't rise it in the bowl it's made in. I scoop it out and put it in a lightly greased bowl. I figured some of the excess around the edges might harden a bit and I didn't want that in my bread. Your house will smell heavenly and, if for any reason, it doesn't turn out quite like you wanted, it makes super croutons and bread crumbs. I'm sure it will be fine though. It's not a particularly finicky bread.

  20. #20
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    Searcher: I don't have kosher salt for the Peasant bread...can I use table salt? In what proportion?

    Rebecca

  21. #21
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    Yes you can use table salt. I'd use just 1 teaspoon since it's finer than Kosher salt.

  22. #22
    JennyFal Guest
    Searcher,
    Thank you for posting the bread recipe. It looks fabulous. I hope to make it within the next week. I have a 1 year old who is deciding naps are overrated. She's also going through a phase where I have to hold her a lot. My husband's on vacation next week so I plan to have him enjoy the baking smells as he entertains her. I use to bake a lot more than I do now. I'm hoping with the cooler weather I'll be more motivated to do it. I'm a hands-on kneader. I love the feel. I use to have a bread machine, but never liked the texture it produced.

  23. #23
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    Jenny, this bread is really sticky after it's mixed. You won't really need to knead it much, if at all. I use a wooden spoon to put the extra flour in and just turn it right into a greased bowl. If you use the scraper method of kneading you'll be fine, or you can oil your hands, but the bread really doesn't need it, it's a rather coarse grained bread.

  24. #24
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    heavenly!

    Searcher, my Herbed Peasant Bread is 4 minutes away from being done baking...and my apartment smells good enough to eat! If the bread tastes half as delicious as it smells, I'll be ecstatic!

    Everyone: this bread is a MUST TRY!

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! This is my second loaf of bread this week (and my second loaf EVER!), and I think I'm addicted to bread-baking. Thanks to everyone for all of the helpful tips. And to those of you who are intimidated by the whole process, just jump in and make some bread! It's not nearly as hard as I thought it would be, and it's so true that there's something very satisfying about eating something you make with your own two hands!

    There's the timer...I'm going to ned a "Do Not Disturb" sign while I eat the entire recipe!

    Rebecca

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