People love to make homemade bread but are unsure if they are kneading it right because making dough can be a big challenge.
It can’t be too soft, or the bread won’t hold it’s shaping. It can’t also be too firm, or you will be stuck with a few other bread issues.
The history of kneading bread dough dates back thousands of years and is a step that cannot be overlooked by bakers.
So, what happens if you over-knead dough? Let’s find out!
Why Do We Need to Knead Bread Dough?
Kneading is necessary because of the following reasons.
First, it adds strength to the dough, and the second is to provide structure for the final baked product.
Gliadin and glutenin are two proteins present in the wheat flour that is combined to form gluten.
When bread dough is first mixed, the proteins are mangled and knotted in no particular order.
In kneading the dough, the proteins line up to form giant chains of amino acids, creating a matrix within the dough.
It’s the process that allows the dough to trap gas released by the yeast or other leavening agents, resulting in the rise.
Dough that is well-kneaded will result in a tasty and savory loaf bread.
How to Knead Dough
There are different ways to knead dough successfully.
It is the easiest way to control the bread’s consistency.
There are several techniques to hand kneading, and all of them involve folding and stretching the dough repeatedly.
Dough kneaded by hand takes about 10 minutes to form gluten.
Slowly adding flour to the dough prevents sticking, but don’t add too much.
An excess of flour creates stiff and dry dough. Kneaded dough should spring back when poked with your finger and feel soft and silky in texture.
You can use a bread machine, a stand mixer, or (for smaller loaves) a food processor equipped with a dough hook attachment in kneading dough.
Bread machines are automated, making them almost fool-proof. But don’t take automating the process for granted.
For best results, knead the dough for three minutes until it cleans the side of the bowl. It would be best if you continued kneading for three to four more minutes until the dough forms a ball.
It should not take more than eight minutes when kneading in an automatic mixer.
If you did not knead your dough by hand, or if you don’t allow it enough time in your mixer, the dough will lack strength.
Not enough kneading would result in a product that is unable to hold its shape, acts listless and fails to inflate. Instead of rising, the dough will spread out flat.
It is a sign of not enough kneading if your dough cannot hold its shape and fails to inflate.
The dough may return to itself and collapse as the gases produced by the yeast escapes. The bread loaf will be flat and dense in texture.
If kneading helps line up proteins and form a gluten matrix, it seems counter-intuitive that no-knead bread can still form light, fluffy loaves.
The gluten can form naturally by allowing the dough to ferment for 12 hours or more. This process gives both the yeast and the enzymes enough time to work.
Think of it as a slow-motion kneading. The fermentation provides a no-fuss option for creating the perfect loaf.
The process of acidification makes the bread easier to digest and sometimes tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity.
How Can You Tell If Kneading Is Enough?
Though you have your techniques, it is hard to know if you have kneaded the dough long enough.
There are criteria to follow before you allow your dough to rest for its first rise.
Dough Is Smooth
The dough can look a little sticky and rough before you knead it. This function helps smooth the dough out. Your dough should be ready when it has a nice, smooth texture.
Dough Springs Back
Press the dough with your finger after kneading for several minutes.
If the edge stays, the dough still needs more work. If it turns back to its original shape, your dough is ready to rest.
Dough Passes the Windowpane Test
Perhaps the best way to tell if your bread dough has undergone proper kneading is the windowpane test.
You haven’t developed enough gluten if the dough tears when you pull off a chunk of dough.
If the dough stretches without breaking, while making a windowpane, then its finished, and you can let the dough rest.
How Can You Tell If Dough Is Over-Kneaded?
You can tell that you’ve kneaded the dough too much if it becomes difficult to stretch. It happens when you use a stand mixer or food processor.
You won’t need to worry about the overworked dough when you knead it by hand. You will start to notice that it gets hard to manage.
It takes a lot of elbow strength to knead bread dough; you’ll likely tire yourself out before you can over-knead.
With a simple windowpane test, you’ll be able to create smooth, perfect dough for all sorts of homemade bread.
Signs of Over-Kneading
You will notice that the dough is very dense and stiff when you over-knead.
It will be hard to knead by hand and to press the dough down and flatten it on the counter.
It will rip easily rather than stretch when pulled.
When the gluten has overdeveloped due to too much kneading, it will be tight.
If this describes your dough, you have over kneaded it!
What to Do If Dough has been Over Kneaded?
If you found out that you have over-knead your dough, there are a few things you can do to try and help fix the situation.
You let the dough sit and rest for a while, untouched for about double the time recommended in a recipe.
You need to place the dough in a bowl, cover it and let it rise overnight in the fridge.
Shape the dough quickly and try not to play with the dough too much after rising.
Let the dough do its second rise, again allowing it to rise a little longer and then bake.
Baking Over Kneaded Dough
Your dough might have been kneaded too much, but you decided to bake it anyway, you may notice that the result is a little different than expected.
The outside of the bread will be tough and dense. The texture may feel more like a rock than a nice soft bread!
You will likely notice that the bread did not rise as much as it was baked, creating a small, solid loaf.
The dough had so much gluten that it created a solid barrier inside the bread, trapping the gasses released from the yeast and preventing them from pushing the dough upward.
When you cut it, you will notice that the interior is dry and crumbly.
How to Prevent Over-Kneading
If you want to prevent over kneading the dough, it best to knead by hand.
When using hands, you can feel the dough at every step of the way. You will know if it needs a touch more flour or if it is starting to get firm.
When you have your hands in the dough, you will likely stop kneading before the dough ever gets too hard – your hands will also get tired!
Please read the notes in your recipe regarding kneading and try to follow them so that your kneading time coincides with the recommended and proven techniques.
You will be able to prevent this issue and do it better. Practice makes perfect dough.
What happens if you over-knead dough? Well, you can answer it right now.