Author Topic: Kneading Recommendations  (Read 3412 times)

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Offline pftaylor

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Kneading Recommendations
« on: March 29, 2006, 08:19:01 AM »
I have critically examined my recent efforts and have determined that I may be mixing or kneading too long. Even though my best formula calls for only a total of ten minutes, it appears to be too long sometimes. At other times it is just right or not enough. I would like to query the membership as too their kneading thoughts.

Ideally I suppose the formation of dough has some sort of perfect point during the kneading process at which one should stop. Going further, or perhaps not even getting there, would produce deleterious effects to the end product. I am hopeful that there is some sort of bandwidth of perfection that is noticeable to the trained eye.

I realize that kneading is a very complicated process but for this question, I do not want to venture into other related areas like kneading speeds and mixer types. I am specifically interested in a description of the physical dough which alerts a seasoned pizza maker that its time to turn off the machine.
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Kneading Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2006, 08:25:02 AM »
it appears to be too long sometimes. At other times it is just right or not enough.

What aspect(s) of your finished pie lead you to conclude it has been kneaded too long?


Offline pftaylor

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Re: Kneading Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2006, 09:26:56 AM »
Bill/SFNM,
Truth be told, I don't know if I'm kneading too long, just right, or not enough. There is not any one aspect of my finished pies which I can routinely point to and say AH HA! On balance they are great. But sometimes they are too gummy. Sometimes they are too chewy. Sometimes they are too crackerish. Sometimes they are too gummy and chewy. Sometimes they are just right. But I can state that I have never felt comfortable that I knew I had maxed out a particular batch of dough. So what I am attempting to do is eliminate one variable in the process so as to march toward a more robust repeatable outcome. I fully realize that solving the kneading time question will not make my pies perfect. But it will eliminate one more area of doubt.  The trigger event for my question is that my pies took a turn for the worse when I stepped out with another flour. I realized that I have built a compensated mixing regimen for one or two flours but not for all.

With the assumption that my formula is not completely broken in any major way, my sense is I'm kneading too long simply due to the fact that the dough comes together nicely after 7-8 minutes of kneading. So by the process of elimination, I'm kneading enough which rules out the option of not kneading enough. That leaves two outcomes. Either I kneaded too much or just right.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote something along the lines of: "When you eliminate the impossible, and all that's left is the improbable, therein lies your answer." Since my dough is not perfect, I can rule out the just right mixing option. So as improbable as it may sound, ten minutes may be too much.

Which leads me to three core kneading questions.
At which point does one know they have kneaded enough?
Is it a visual cue?
Is it determined through touch?

I'm driving toward the notion that blindly adhering to a recipe works some of the time. I really want to know how to determine the magic point all the time. In any weather condition, with any type of flour.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2006, 10:08:34 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Kneading Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2006, 10:16:45 AM »
pft:

My view may be pretty simplistic, but here goes: Why do we use relatively high protein flours? Because we want gluten formation. Gluten is good. If you want less gluten, use a weaker flour. There is a point where no matter how long you knead, no more gluten will be formed. I've tried to find that point by kneading very slowly for as long as 45 minutes. How was the pie. Great! I suggest you make a big batch of dough. Take out a ball at 10 minutes, another at 15 minutes, another at 20, etc. to home in on optimum kneading times.   

The visual queues will vary with the dough and mixer. On my Santos, I wait until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I still struggle with this, but error on the side overkneading, which with these very soft doughs doesn't seem to create problems - it is always tender. This is one of the factors I intend to investigate in much more detail.

Bill/SFNM


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Kneading Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2006, 11:51:47 AM »
pft,

Some time ago, I did some research on this topic and attempted to explain it in response to a post by a new member.

What I found is that dough actually goes through what I would best describe as a bell shape type of process. Once the dough comes together into a rough dough mass and is kneaded (on the rising part of the bell curve), it will be soft and supple and fairly extensible (stretchy). The more you knead it, the tougher the gluten structure will become and the less supple the dough will become and it will be more elastic. At some point, on the down part of the bell curve, the dough crosses over from being properly kneaded (in the middle of the bell curve) to overkneaded. If you continue to knead beyond the overkneaded point, interestingly the dough starts to get soft and more supple again. That is because the gluten structure is being dismantled by the additional kneading. You might even be fooled into thinking that the dough is OK because it is still soft. With continued kneading beyond this point, the dough can actually go through what is called a “letdown” stage where it completely falls apart and gets very soft and super sticky. At that point, the dough has had it and shouldn't be used. Sometimes the heat of kneading can get so high as to actually kill the yeast (above about 140 degrees F). Then the dough is, in effect, dead and cannot be resurrected.

The best way to see the entire process unfold before your eyes is to use a food processor--as I have done for experimental purposes-- because it does everything at super speed and produces enormous amount of heat.

As you might guess, most pizza operators try to stay on the underkneaded part of the bell curve. It's better for the dough, it saves time, and it saves wear and tear on their mixers.

I realize that the above explanation is not entirely comforting or helpful in telling you where the safe zone is. And, as you know, if your mixer is anything like mine (a standard KitchenAid home mixer), it can produce results that can vary quite significantly from one dough batch to another, even of the same size. And you may also find that a Neapolitan style dough made with, say, a 00 flour, will behave differently from a dough made with a different flour. The best I can offer on this point is the somewhat generic advice given by Tom Lehmann--which I have posted before--on how to tell when the dough is right. It may not be perfect, and he did not render the advice in respect of a Neapolitan dough--and others have even better advice--but FWIW here it is:

You want to mix the dough just enough so that when you take an egg size piece of dough, and form it into a ball, then holding it in two hands, with the thumbs together (pointing away from you), and on top of the dough piece, gently pull the thumbs apart. The dough skin should not tear. If it tears, you should mix the dough a little longer. The dough will have a decidedly satiny appearance. Prior to the satiny appearance the dough will have more of a curdled appearance. Do not stretch the dough out between the fingers to form a gluten film. This test for development is for bread and roll doughs, not pizza. Pizza dough is not fully developed at the mixer, instead, it receives most of its development through biochemical gluten development (fermentation). After the dough has been in the cooler for about 24 hours, you should be able to stretch the dough in your fingers and form a very thin, translucent gluten film.

Peter

Offline scott r

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Re: Kneading Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2006, 01:12:35 PM »
PFT,  Peters description is exactly why I recommend finishing your dough by hand.  You will feel when the gluten is building, and I have found the best time to stop is just when you can feel it tightening and getting a little springy.   Since discovering this my doughs have gotten MUCH more consistent.  The electrolux is amazing, because I can knead for 25 minutes and the dough never gets tight.  I don't know if a KA would work the same way, but I have a feeling the santos does.

Of course a real pro knows when the dough hits this point without even having to finish by hand.  As Peter says, always learning!

Offline Elior

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Re: Kneading Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2006, 05:14:12 AM »
Well, I am not scientist but i am surely know that as long as you continue kneading, the dough will continue absorbing the liquids, and in order to save the taste of the pie, we use high gluten products. So it only can upgrade the taste ;D


Smart'ey.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2006, 05:17:51 AM by Smart »