How to Knead Bread Dough

A few of you have been asking me to put up a basic tutorial on dough kneading for a while, and this seems like a good time. I’m normally a machine guy, I do most of my kneading with a mixer and a dough hook, however there are times when only the personal touch will do. The process is very simple. Starting with your mass of dough…

…you plant the heel of your hand in the middle and push the half that’s furthest away from you even further away:

Fold the elongated mass back down:

Give it a quarter turn:

And do it again:

And that’s all there really is to that!

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4 Responses to How to Knead Bread Dough

  1. Ramiro Martinez Jr says:

    Hand kneading seems to be easy. I’ve always done my homemade loaves by Kitchen Aid; however, my machine recently went
    ‘Kurplunk!” and I’ve started to look into kneading by hand. Do you feel it takes longer or the same time? I own Peter Reinhart’s “The Baker’s Apprentice” and he swears by the hand method. I’m curious. I’ve come to admire your site and follow it religiously. Thanks for all the insight. Your response would be greatly appreciated! Btw, hope the fishing trip was amazing. I’ll be taking one soon myself!

    • joepastry says:

      What will you be fishing for and where?

      To answer your question, the hand method does take longer, but as you point out, some people find it to be superior. I don’t really have an opinion on that. I’ve always thought machines worked very well. I’m sure you’ll have excellent results either way. But thank you for all your very kind words, I wish you all the best on your trip!

      - Joe

  2. Nate says:

    It seems that hand kneading is quite easy with a firm doughs like pretzel doughs and other stuff like that but how can you knead a slack and wet dough like foccacias and ciabattas. I’ve seen other techniques in other websites for kneading a high hydration dough but I want to know your opinion in this matter.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Nate!

      Yes that’s a bit of a challenge, no? For hand-kneading a really wet dough (like pain a l’ancienne or something), use a large spoon to do your initial mixing, then let it sit for 10-20 minutes to hydrate the flour. All that’s left now is to smooth out remaining lumps and develop some gluten. For that I’d simply oil my hands and start stretching and folding it. If the dough is really lumpy you can use a board to give the dough more of a workout, smearing and scraping it back up again with a bench scraper. Those are my bets ideas!

      Best of luck!

      - Joe

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