Kneading is the process of working dough, especially bread dough, to speed up the development of gluten to turn the dough into a firm and more workable mass. Kneading isn’t necessary – there are plenty of no-knead recipes. Given enough time and water, the proteins in wheat flour will do this for themselves. Kneading is simply a mechanical means of speeding up the biochemical process.
Kneading can be done by hand or by using the dough hook on a stand mixer. However, if using a domestic mixer, take care to read the manual for the machine otherwise you risk burning out the motor. Usually doughs have to be kneaded for at least ten minutes and many domestic machines recommend only running the motor for four minutes at a time.
Many people find hand kneading therapeutic. Others would prefer to let a machine do the grunt work. When the kneading process is complete, the dough should feel smooth and elastic. Some people describe is as ‘silky’.
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