Author Topic: Hand kneading dough  (Read 2559 times)

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Offline JRD

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Hand kneading dough
« on: December 14, 2004, 06:24:16 PM »
I wish I had found this forum when I first started making my own pizza. I love forum sites...I'm one a couple of homebrewing forums, and I learn more there than I do anywhere else. Good job guys!

On to the question. I don't currently have a stand mixer, which means I'm making dough by hand. I've never been real happy with the doughs I make this way; I'm pretty sure I'm not kneading them long enough (never get to the windowpane). How long is enough, though? And how do you avoid getting tired if that 'long enough' is 20 or 30 minutes? ;) The dough gets awfully stiff after about ten, which is when I usually stop. Any tips for a pizza maker without a budget for cool kitchen toys?


Offline itsinthesauce

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Re:Hand kneading dough
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2004, 06:34:56 PM »
It sounds like you are adding too much flour. Try backing off a bit, or add more water. When I did it without the machine, it usually took about 5 minutes. All the best!

Offline Pete-zza

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Re:Hand kneading dough
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2004, 09:24:23 PM »
JRD,

Welcome to the forum.

Not too long ago, I conducted a series of experiments in which I used several different kneading techniques to make a NY style dough based on a recipe of Tom Lehmann, also known as the Dough Doctor.  One of the versions was a hand kneaded version.  I described that particular experiment, as well as the two most common approaches for hand kneading a dough, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/yabbse/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=576;start=msg5674#msg5674 (Reply #68).  The recipe I used called for a high-gluten flour, which is considered the most difficult to use from a hand kneading standpoint.  Lower-protein, lower gluten flours are deemed easier to use for hand kneaded doughs, and that seems to be so from my personal experience.  However, I concluded that it is possible to hand knead a dough using high gluten flour if you don't go overboard and try to make too much dough.  Of course, if you plan to make a large amount of dough at one time to make several pizzas, then it will become necessary to use a machine of some sort.  

I also concluded that you don't need a lot of hand kneading.  Tom Lehmann draws a distinction between dough used to make bread and dough used to make a pizza.  With pizza dough there is a lesser need to develop the gluten in the flour than if you were making bread dough.  So, if you buy this distinction, then this means less kneading when you are making a pizza dough.  Usually, for a single pizza, you will not need more than 5 minutes to knead the dough, and maybe a couple minutes more if you are using a high gluten flour.  But if you find you need more kneading time, or you are making a fair amount of dough at one time, or if you get tired while kneading the dough, it's no big deal.  You can stop and rest for a few minutes and resume kneading.  In fact, you will most likely see how the dough softens because of the "rest" and handles even better after the rest (as the gluten starts to relax and the flour better absorbs the water).  What is most important is determining when the dough is ready, that is, has been adequately and sufficiently kneaded.  Some people use the windowpane test (Tom Lehmann pooh poohs it), but whether you use the windowpane test or not, the dough should be smooth and elastic without any tears on the outer surface when you form the dough into a ball.  Ideally, the dough should not be too dry or too wet.  I think the term "tacky" best describes the condition of the dough I look for.

I believe that hand kneading a pizza dough is a good way to start your "career" in pizza making.  It allows you to get a "feel" for the dough and when it is just right.  That experience will serve you well even when you "graduate" to fancier gear.  

Peter

Offline Timreid

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Re: Hand kneading dough
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2005, 08:09:11 PM »
Hi, I'm new here but I think 'itsinthesauce' has the right idea.  I also hand knead and I also struggle with getting the dough "just right".  Without a mixer the flour has to be added to the wet mix gradually.  Also, you can't use as much flour when hand mixing because you can't force the moisture to permeate the dough mixture like the machine does.  I've found that the best way to do it is begin mixing with a wooden spoon, add the flour gradually until it becomes smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky.  As you add the flour you'll see that the spoon doesn't do it anymore and you have to get your hands in it.  I usually add what flour I'll need to finish during the knead.  It takes a few tries but eventually you learn to 'feel' when the dough is right.  By then you'll be able to buy a mixer and you can forget everything you just learned about mixing dough...LOL

Timreid

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hand kneading dough
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2005, 09:34:15 AM »
Tim,

That's a great tip.

I might also suggest another. When you are combining dry ingredients with the flour, such as salt, sugar and yeast (IDY), use a spoon or spatula to manually blend the ingredients so that they are thoroughly distributed throughout the flour. I do this even when I am using a machine. Most people tend to just toss the yeast, sugar and salt into the bowl on top of the flour, turn on the machine, and assume that the dough hook or processor blade will completely and homogeneously blend all of the dry ingredients together. But, if you look carefully at what the dough hook or processor blade actually does, you will see that the flour mixture outside of the hook or blade near the wall of the bowl doesn't always get drawn into the center of the bowl to be mixed with the rest of the flour. Maybe everything gets incorporated ultimately when the wet ingredients are added and kneaded in, but to be sure that the flour mixture is homogeneous, I use a spoon or spatula to blend everything together before adding the liquid ingredients. I do this no matter whether I am using a machine or hand kneading.

Even when I add things like salt to a partially kneaded dough, whether by hand or by machine, I sprinkle the salt over the entire surface of the dough rather than tossing it all in the middle of the dough where it might not all get evenly distributed throughout the dough. I do the same thing with oil added after initial kneading. Sometimes I think hand kneading does a better job with these small tasks and produces a more homogeneous result because you are in control of the entire process, not a machine. It just takes more elbow grease.

Peter

Offline Timreid

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Re: Hand kneading dough
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2005, 11:40:07 AM »
Agreed about premixing dry ingredients.  I do that also but forgot to mention in my earlier reply.


 

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