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Hand Kneading vs Dough Hook: Which is superior? 

Many agree that kneading the dough is the most time-consuming aspect of making homemade bread. I enjoy kneading the dough by hand; there’s something almost therapeutic about it. I typically rely on old-fashioned modern technology when I do not wish to be elbow-deep in the dough for twenty minutes. 

The most significant advantage of utilizing a machine during the kneading process is that it can cut the kneading time in half. Using a stand mixer is also wholly hands-free, which is a significant plus in my book. You can also use a variety of other appliances to knead dough in addition to your stand mixer. Stand mixers, bread machines, and food processors are the most common. 

In the end, however, which kneading machine will provide the most effective results? And which is superior, a dough hook or kneading by hand? 

Let’s find out! 

Why is dough kneading important? 

If you are new to baking bread, you may be wondering why it is necessary to knead the dough. The purpose of several bread-making steps, such as combining ingredients for baking, is apparent. 

However, kneading dough is essential for the development of gluten. Gluten is responsible for the dough’s elasticity, while trapped gases within the dough are responsible for its rise. The result of this protein gives bread its structure; without proper kneading, the loaf would emerge from the oven flat and rigid. 

Hand-kneading dough 

The manual technique for kneading dough is an art that our ancestors have spent centuries perfecting. The process of kneading the dough by hand is relatively simple, not to mention enjoyable! I usually combine all my ingredients in a bowl and mix them with a wooden spoon until I obtain a dough with an uneven texture. Then I begin kneading the dough on a silicone kneading mat. 

There is no correct method for kneading dough. I usually press the dough away from my palm, fold it in my hand, and then press it again. Folding, pushing, and turning the dough repeatedly produces a smooth, gluten-developed dough. 

If you are new to baking bread, the following two-minute video will help you perfect your kneading technique. Depending on the dough you are working with, this process could take 10 to 20 minutes or even longer. A dough with a high water content will require more time to achieve a smooth consistency without sticking to your hands or work surface. 

Here you will find alternative methods for mixing bread dough by hand. As previously stated, there is no right or wrong way, so choose the best strategy. 

Contrary to popular belief, the dough does not require kneading to develop gluten. As long as a mixture contains water, gluten will grow independently. This method of kneading, known as the no-knead method, is my favorite way to make dough, especially when making homemade pizza. 

Combine your ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon until you have a shaggy dough, cover it with cling film, and let it rise for 18 hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator. No mess and no cleanup required. How awesome! 

Regardless of the method, you use to knead your dough, it would help if you continuously verified that sufficient gluten has formed. The windowpane test is the most effective and foolproof way to accomplish this. Take a portion of the dough and roll it out. It is ready if you can see the light through the dough, and it does not tear. 

PROS
  • Can knead on any flat surface
  • Don’t require any equipment
CONS
  • Time consuming
  • Puts pressure on your wrists

Dough Hook 

I prefer kneading the dough with a dough hook because it is faster and completely hands-free. However, there is one crucial factor to consider in this case. If you intend to knead dough frequently, you will need to consider the strength of your mixer’s motor. 

It may not be suitable for kneading dough if you only use your mixer to make cakes and other light ingredients. Especially if you intend to bake homemade bread regularly, you will need a motor that can withstand the kneading of the dough. 

Many baking acquaintances have informed me that they do not knead dough in their stand mixer because it stalls, gets too hot, or vibrates too much. On the other hand, I have never encountered kneading difficulties with my KitchenAid mixer. 

Additionally, consider the type of dough hook you possess. Most stand mixers include a C-shaped dough hook. A C-shaped dough hook functions by pushing the dough to the mixer’s sides. The spiral dough hook moves the dough in a spiraling downward motion, simulating the action of hands kneading dough. 

The C-shaped dough hook does the job but tends to throw the dough from side to side and does not knead the dough. If you want to get the most out of your stand mixer, choose one with a spiral-shaped dough hook. 

How to use a dough hook to knead the dough. 

It is straightforward to knead the dough with a dough hook. Place the ingredients in the mixing bowl, secure the dough hook, and turn on the stand mixer. It is essential to knead at a low speed not to overwork the motor. 

It will take approximately 10 minutes for the stand mixer to knead the dough, depending on the type of flour and amount of liquid in the mixture. To determine if your dough is ready, use the previous windowpane test. 

PROS
  • Kneads dough quickly
  • Hands free
CONS
  • Can put strain on your mixer

Making Alternate Plans 

You don’t have an electric mixer and don’t want to knead the dough by hand. The following alternatives to mixers are ideal for kneading dough. 

Food Processor 

It is important to note that there are other methods for kneading dough. Using a food processor is a speedy and efficient method. This is probably not the first appliance that comes to mind when you think of kneading dough, but its aggressive blade and powerful motor can develop the gluten in as little as 90 seconds. Pretty cool, huh? 

The only disadvantage of using a food processor is that you may overwork the dough. If the dough is not ready after 90 seconds, continue to knead it for 10 seconds at a time until it passes the windowpane test. 

Bread maker 

Perhaps the best alternative is to utilize a bread maker. The bread machine has become my best ally when it comes to baking bread. When I desire homemade bread but lack the patience to knead by hand, I use my bread machine for kneading, rising, and baking the dough. 

If you enjoy homemade bread but don’t want to spend all day kneading and waiting for it to shake, a bread maker may be precisely what you need. 

Bread machines are highly configurable and have a variety of settings, which is their most significant benefit. If you want to add a personal touch to your loaf without the labor, you can set the machine to knead only and bake the loaf in the oven. 

Which is superior: a dough hook or hand kneading? 

It’s challenging to decide which is superior. I enjoy making bread from scratch by hand, but I appreciate the speed of the dough hook. Both approaches are equally efficient and yield the same outcome. I frequently bake bread, so I use a combination of hand kneading and my stand mixer’s dough hook or my bread machine’s dough hook. 

FAQs

A dough hook is the best tool you can use to knead dough. It does everything your hands would do, but more quickly. Not only does a stand mixer and dough hook do all the work—but you’re more likely to get better results if you use them instead

The overworked dough will often feel tight and tough. This means that liquid molecules have been damaged and won’t stretch properly, causing the bread to break and tear more easily. Conversely, a dough that is underworked will be harder to form into a ball shape.

Kneading can almost always be done by hand, even if the recipe calls for an stand mixer. Kneading by hand is perfect for those of you who don’t have a stand mixer (or can’t find your dough hook…).

Underworked dough on the other hand, won’t form a ball shape easily. As gluten molecules haven’t developed yet, the dough flops and also tears. It hasn’t come together yet, and requires more kneading. Over kneaded dough can’t be fixed and will result in a rock-hard loaf, so be careful with this mistake.

First, by using your own hands, you’ll get a feeling for your bread dough—its precise hydration level and elasticity. You’ll have a better sense of when to stop the kneading process, and you’ll be aware of any quirks your dough may have.

 
 
There are two ways to knead bread dough:
  • Hand Kneading: Takes 10–30 minutes to reach the optimal gluten matrix by repeatedly folding and stretching the dough. …
  • Mechanical Kneading: Takes 8-12 minutes and is the most efficient way to knead flour doughs.

To do this, tear off a chunk of dough and stretch it between your fingers. If the dough tears, you haven’t developed enough gluten and it needs more kneading. If it stretches without breaking, making a windowpane of sorts, you’re done and you can let the dough rest.

When handling dough in bread making, it is a distinct advantage to allow the dough to rest during the process. This allows the gluten/gliadin to relax and easily reform itself into the long protein chains which are the superstructure of the finished loaf.

When kneading yeast doughs with a dough hook, use speed 2 and knead for about 2 minutes to initially mix ingredients. At this point you may need to turn off the machine to scrape down the sides, and then proceed to continue mixing for another 3-5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

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