Kneading dough is easy if you know the right technique! Learn all the basics you need to get a fresh loaf on your table with ease.
There’s no better smell in the kitchen than a freshly baked loaf of bread. Everything from the smell of the dough while it’s proofing or the smell after it’s been pulled from the oven is heavenly.
Making your own dough can be a fun and rewarding experience. The hands-on effort from kneading the dough can not only be a good way to work out your frustrations but can also be calming and therapeutic.
If you haven’t made your own bread or doughs before, I highly recommend it! When you read below and see how to knead the dough, you can see that it isn’t as hard as it may seem.
How to knead dough
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- Fold the dough in half towards your body.
- Push the dough down and out, with your palms, away from your body.
- Bring the dough back over itself and fold in half again.
- Repeat for the appropriate amount of time as directed by the recipe.
How long do you need to knead dough?
This is something that experience helps with. The more you work with doughs, the easier it is to see and feel when it is done being kneaded visually.
The dough usually needs to be kneaded by hand for about 10-12 minutes, until it is tight and difficult to maneuver.
How do I know when dough is kneaded enough?
There are 5 easy ways to tell that your dough is finished kneading.
- It’s smooth. All of the lumps and bumps have gone away, and now it’s just a lovely smooth ball of dough.
- Holds its shape. When you place it down in the shape of a ball on the counter, it doesn’t immediately start expanding and trying to turn into a dough puddle.
- It passes the poke test. When you poke the dough, the indentation made your finger goes away quickly.
- You can stretch it thin without it breaking. Take a small piece of the dough (about the size of a golf ball) and pull it out until it looks like a thin sheet of paper. If it can survive that without breaking, the dough is good to go.
- If you’re tired, it could be ready. While a lot of recipes will state to knead the dough for X amount of time, you may notice that your dough can meet the previous tests long before that time is up. With everyone working at their own pace, the time references are usually just a guestimate.
What happens when you over-knead dough?
It’s easy to tell when your dough is under-kneaded because it looks like a soft pile of chunky mess that tears easily. But over-kneaded dough can be a little harder to determine.
If you’re kneading by hand, the chances that you will over-knead the dough are very minimal. You’ll tire yourself long before that happens.
If you’re kneading with the use of a machine, it is much more likely thanks to the powerful little motors.
You can tell that your dough is over-kneaded if it is difficult to shape, doesn’t want to move. Just like with under-kneaded dough, it can tear easily. This is because the gluten has been worked so hard that it now has very little room to give.
While you can’t fix over-kneaded dough, you can give it a little longer to rise during proofing. This will help the gluten to relax a little before baking.
Loaves made with over-kneaded dough usually turn into bread with a tough, crusty exterior, great for making breadcrumbs. Under kneaded loaves will flatten while cooking.
Bread is a learning process
Taking the time to learn this centuries-old skill can help you for the rest of your life. While it can be disappointing by making a dough that doesn’t turn out perfect every time, over-kneaded and under-kneaded bread are both still edible and delicious in their own rights.
The only way to get better is through hands-on practice and experience. If you have questions about what type of yeast you should use, check out this post on Types of Baker’s Yeast!
Looking for some great bread recipes?
- Homemade Bread
- Cornbread Recipe
- Homemade Wheat Bread
- Banana Bread Recipe
- Best Garlic Bread Recipe
- Focaccia Recipe
- How to Bake Bread
- Dutch Oven Bread
- Strawberry Banana Bread
- Cinnamon Roll Recipe
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Homemade Pretzels
- Pretzel Bites
- Sticky Buns Recipe
- Easy Pizza Dough