My homemade bread dough is never "smooth and elastic" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 10-24-2010, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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All the bread recipes say something like "knead until dough is smooth and elastic" but mine never gets that way. I hand knead, which I'm sure is relevant. I've tried more flour, less flour, kneading longer- it's always sort of dimply and "holey."

1. Does it matter?
2. If it matters, how do I get it that way?

Oh, and just in case anyone knows- my bread pan is a hand me down, and it's gold colored. I was using it until it occurred to me that it might not be safe. Anyone know what it is?

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#2 of 14 Old 10-24-2010, 07:37 PM
 
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How long are you kneading, and for how many loaves at a time? I find that I need to knead about fifteen minutes for one loaf of white bread, and about 20 to 25 minutes for a loaf of whole wheat bread. And if I'm doing double batches, the kneading time really does need to be almost doubled.

The smooth elasticity is a sign that the gluten has been fully developed, to get the highest possible rise and the most satisfying texture in the finished bread. It doesn't really matter, if you're happy with your finished bread.

What kind of flour are you using? Sometimes flours don't have sufficient gluten content to really get that elasticity and a good rise-- adding a teaspoon or so of vital wheat gluten can really help in that case.

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#3 of 14 Old 10-24-2010, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I make one loaf at a time, but it's a big loaf. There's a really good chance that I don't knead for 20+ minutes (I do half ww, half unbleached). I've never timed it, but it doesn't seem like that long.
And interestingly enough, my bread rarely seems to have a great rise and texture. lol. I just figured it was because it's sourdough, and I don't always add extra yeast.

Next time, I'll time how long I knead, and if that doesn't work I'll start adding vital wheat gluten.

Thanks! I'm usually happy with the flavour of my bread, but the texture leaves a bit to be desired. I'm excited to make some good bread!

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#4 of 14 Old 10-24-2010, 08:16 PM
 
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I agree then, from what you're saying-- you need more kneading! I knead mine a LOT-- I even make it into a ball and beat it with my fists, and throw it up in the air and slam it down onto the table. It's a great way to get your aggressions out. And my kids love to help-- they think it's so much fun to pound on a loaf of dough. Twenty minutes is my minimum knead, for a half-whole-wheat bread-- and I'm kneading VIGOROUSLY the whole time. If you're a gentle kneader, you may need more time.

I know mine is ready when I can run my hand over the outside of the ball of dough, and it feels like skin. The stickiness is entirely gone by that point, and the surface is smooth and feels almost alive.

Another thing that can help-- after mixing up the dough, but before you knead, let the dough stand about ten to fifteen minutes, to let the sourdough organisms start growing.

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#5 of 14 Old 10-24-2010, 08:29 PM
 
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Ok this will not be helpful at all but I am going to jump in anyway....

I could never make bread no matter how hard I tried. It either was rock hard and never rose or big and puffy with no taste.

About 10 years ago my mom gave a bread machine that I used one or twice but I didn't really like the mechanical looking loaves. It was good warm but not after that.

Fast forward to discovering a cook book that focuses on making the dough in the bread machine but doing everything else outside of the machine-the second rising, shaping, baking etc are done by hand.

I now make the BEST bread-sandwich, rolls, focaccia, pizza dough, sourdough, sweet rolls, brioche, the works. I let the bread machine do the hard work and I do the rest.

So if you can swing the price (you can usually find at a yard sale) and have the space I reccomend a bread machine!

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#6 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 12:36 AM
 
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Homemade bread isn't hard, but unless you have someone to learn from it can take some practice to understand the correct texture and that depends on the type of bread you are making, some bread doughs are supposed to be sticky still. From your description, you aren't kneading long enough as previous posters said. I've never timed it, so I can't help there. You can let a stand mixer or food processor do the kneading for you, a bread machine is not needed. But you still need to know when it's done. I'd say either look online for a good tutorial or buy a good bread baking book. I learned years ago with Bernard Claytons New Complete Book of Breads he gives instructions for hand kneading, stand mixer and food processor for every recipe.
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#7 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 12:44 AM
 
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calphalon makes golden colored bakeware. Maybe check and see if yours is shaped the same as one of theirs?

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#8 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 02:04 AM
 
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Try this: After initially combining the flour, water, etc, knead for several minutes. Then cover the dough and let in rest for 15 min. Then continue with your kneading. The dough should become smooth and elastic much more readily than if you didn't let it rest.
The starch needs to fully hydrate before it will really start to develop gluten. So you could either try to knead through this period, or just wait for it to do it on its own.

Hope this helps!
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#9 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 03:38 AM
 
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Also, knead the salt in at the end of the kneading process and you might get better results. Salt retards gluten development, IIRC.

Oh, and with sourdough, it's very important to let it RISE! Don't rush it. If you want it doubled, let the loaf sit there and meditate on its sins until it's darn well doubled. Don't give in and pop it in the oven when it's only slightly risen, hoping the heat of the oven will do the rest. You have to show it who's boss.

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#10 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post
calphalon makes golden colored bakeware. Maybe check and see if yours is shaped the same as one of theirs?
It's brighter than those, but actually might be the same shape. It's all scratched up, so it's probably outlived it's useful life. I guess I'll try to get a silicone bread pan or something.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Oh, and with sourdough, it's very important to let it RISE! Don't rush it. If you want it doubled, let the loaf sit there and meditate on its sins until it's darn well doubled. Don't give in and pop it in the oven when it's only slightly risen, hoping the heat of the oven will do the rest. You have to show it who's boss.
I think that's part of my problem, too. I rarely let it double in size, and hope it will rise the rest of the way in the oven That's probably why I have much better luck when I add a little bit of baker's yeast to it- it rises faster.

I'm so excited to make good bread with my newfound knowledge! If my next loaf isn't perfect, I'll go to the library and get a bread baking book

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#11 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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Laurel's Bread Book has a great section at the beginning called the Learner's Loaf. It walks you through each step, and explains what you're doing, WHY you're doing it, how to know when you've done it right, and what to do if it doesn't come out right. And then it has an even more extensive troubleshooting section at the end. It focuses on whole grains, but there's nothing in it that's not applicable to white-bread baking either.

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#12 of 14 Old 10-26-2010, 12:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Try this: After initially combining the flour, water, etc, knead for several minutes. Then cover the dough and let in rest for 15 min. Then continue with your kneading. The dough should become smooth and elastic much more readily than if you didn't let it rest.
The starch needs to fully hydrate before it will really start to develop gluten. So you could either try to knead through this period, or just wait for it to do it on its own.


The best bread making advice I ever got was along those lines. Slight difference in what I do, I let the dough rest for 10 minutes right after mixing it all together, then knead.

You'll LOVE what this does for your dough!

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#13 of 14 Old 10-28-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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I mix the ingredients for the bread together, minus about 3/4 cup of flour.

I let that rest for about 10 minutes and then I turn the mixer on medium with the paddle attachment and let the cake batterish dough be worked to get the gluten developed for about 5 minutes.

I then add little bits of flour while the dough hook is working the dough on the mixer's level two setting. I do this until the dough is climbing the hook and I can just start to see the curve of the bowl on the bottom. I let the machine knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep that textural look. At the end, I'll sometimes add a bit of I the reserved flour to make the dough manageable and not stick to my hands too much.

I let this dough rise until doubled in the mixing bowl, covered with a plate.

In addition to the above steps, I think it is important to pay attention to how you are shaping the loaf. I put my dough out onto a floured surface and fold it like a business letter. I then rotate the dough so that I am working with the short end of the folded letter towards my body and roll it up cinnamon bun style and tuck the edges under. I pinch the seams shut and put it seam side down in the pan and then I wait a really long time (lol) for it to definitely double and make sure that the oven is finished preheating before I pop it in.

I hope this helps.

I do make 100% whole wheat bread with excellent rise and crumb when I use this method.

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#14 of 14 Old 10-28-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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Thanks for all the tips!

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