Though I love to bake bread, hand-kneading is not my thing. I would rather delegate the gluten development to my stand mixer. I know, many folks swear that hand-kneading is therapeutic, restorative, and good exercise to boot. Personally, I don’t find any of those things to be true: I’m short, and my kitchen countertops are too high for comfortable kneading without possible rotator cuff injury. Thus, I have to stand on a stepstool (awkward) or move to another room to use a tabletop, spreading the potential floury mess across more surfaces. See why I just let the mixer do its job?
Despite my aversion to hand-kneading, I’ve been turning out at least one all-manual loaf a week these days. I’m planning to teach a hands-on breadmaking class this fall, and we won’t have a stand mixer for each student. So I need to identify at least one tasty, easily kneaded loaf to start off the class. (Later lessons will feature no-knead breads.)
My first foray into hand-kneading was inauspicious. I found a white sandwich loaf recipe on King Arthur Flour’s website, enriched with a little dry milk and some instant potato flakes. The kneading was easy, but the bread failed miserably…I over-proofed it, and it collapsed in the oven. A sorry-looking, pancake-topped loaf too ugly to photograph, it tasted insipid and starchy.
Fast forward a week, and I decided to try my favorite basic white bread recipe: White Bread Variation I, from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This dry-milk and butter-laced loaf has never failed me, whether I turn it into burger buns, add some white whole wheat, substitute olive oil for the butter, or retard it in the refrigerator for a bit. I kneaded it on the countertop (yes, while standing on a stepstool) for just 5 minutes to the windowpane stage, then turned it into one pan loaf and eight burger buns.
Finally–victory in hand-kneading! The dough behaved exactly like mixer-kneaded dough. Best of all, it lends itself nicely to a variety of shapes, including hot dog buns, butterflake rolls, knotted rolls, and square dinner rolls, giving beginning breadmakers a great opportunity to learn shaping techniques. (Did I mention it also makes great toast?)
wish you would teach some classes closer to BR or Gonzales Celeste.
Find me some place to teach and I’d consider it…
I’ve just seen the photo at Yeastspotting – and it looks very nice !