Bread Making Part 5: The Need to Knead--Results ~ Mountain Mama

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bread Making Part 5: The Need to Knead--Results

No it didn't really take me a week to bake a loaf of bread.


Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed in the visual results of my two breads. With the exception that the kneaded loaf seemed to spread more (which is likely to be due to a small variation in the liquid content) the two loaves looked unremarkably similar. Even when I cut into them.

What was different was the texture. The unkneaded dough had a denser feel. It was the kind of thing you could choke down, but you'd want ample water to swill. The kneaded loaf was spongier. It felt like it had air in it.

What really struck me as strangely bizarre?

As the afternoon wore on into the evening, we were all taking slices and snacking. I sliced both loaves and no one in my family knew there was a difference between them. I assure you, no one in my household has any qualms about eating from a new loaf when there is a half-eaten loaf sitting next to it. This is supported by the eleven open boxes of cereal in my pantry.

By the end of the evening, the kneaded bread was gone, but the unkneaded bread, though picked at, was ignored.

Very interesting.

Anyway, we can safely assume kneading is important, because all the bread books tell us so. The next time you make bread, observe your dough. How does it feel when the dough comes together? How is it different after five minutes of kneading? Ten minutes? When it windowpanes?

My favorite bread, Ciabatta, makes a sticky dough that clings around the hook and leaves a three inch 'puddle' of dough in the bottom of the bowl. After a few minutes, the dough makes a vertical blob that travels around the side of the bowl and the puddle is a bit smaller. In another five minutes the dough forms a ball around the hook and makes 'arms' that slap the bowl a few times before incorporating themselves back into the ball.

Guess how many times I made Ciabatta before noticing?

Practice makes perfect.

You've had some questions regarding breadmaking. I'm not professional, and I'm not even that experienced, but I'll try to answer them soon.

1 comment:

  1. Ever since I threw out my breadmaker and started kneading by hand, I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy breadmaking is. I think it's reported difficulty is a scam perpetuated by the baking industry. :) I mean, really. It's one of the oldest foods in existence, having been around long before we had packaged yeast and ovens with temperatures beyond "off" and "hot". People need to just throw caution to the winds and give it a try. The most you can lose is a few cups of flour and a tablespoon or so of various other cheap ingredients.


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