All About Yeast Breads

Secrets For Kneaded Breads

Practice makes perfect. The more you knead bread, the better technique you’ll develop. If dough is not kneaded enough, the bread will be dry, heavy and have a crumbly texture. Using a dough hook on a standard mixer will result in bread with a slightly lower volume, while a heavy-duty mixer will create loaves with higher volume. Avoid over-kneading the dough. Dough that is kneaded too long (more than 10 minutes) can become dry and coarse because too much flour may be added.

Add flour gradually during kneading. As you knead the dough, add just enough flour so that the dough is no longer sticky. In recipes, a range is given for the amount of flour because flour can gain or lose moisture depending on weather conditions and how it is stored. Too much flour added during kneading may produce streaks and uneven grain.

Prepare pans while the dough rests. Grease them or leave them ungreased according to the recipe directions.

Shape loaves and rolls to fit the pan. The shaped dough should be large enough so that it will touch the sides of the pan as the dough rises. The pan helps provide support for the dough.

Cover loaves with foil during baking if they become too brown before they’re done.

Why You Need to Knead

Kneading dough may be one of the most satisfying aspects of baking bread. It can be great for working out frustrations, and it’s great exercise for your arms. Apart from that, kneading builds a protein structure called gluten, which gives body to the finished bread.

To knead, fold the dough over and push down on it with the heels of your hands, curving your fingers over the dough. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process of folding and pushing down until you have an elastic dough and the stiffness called for in a recipe. Here’s how to tell:

  • Soft dough is very sticky and used for breads that don’t need kneading.
  • Moderately soft dough is slightly sticky and is used for rich, sweet breads. This dough is kneaded on a floured surface for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Moderately stiff dough is not sticky and is slightly firm to the touch. It usually requires 6 to 8 minutes of kneading on a lightly floured surface and is used for nonsweet breads.
  • Stiff dough is firm to the touch and will hold its shape after about 8 to 10 minutes of kneading. It’s used for breads with a chewy texture, such as French bread.

How to Tell When Yeast Breads Are Done

Sound plays a key role in determining if yeast breads are done, so listen carefully!

Yeast breads are done when:

  • They are golden brown.
  • They pull away from the sides of the pan.
  • Tapping on the top crust of a loaf produces a hollow sound.