How long to knead on machine: Can you knead too much?


 Hi all,

Wanting some feedback on how much you machine knead:


Some recipes say that you cannot knead too much or too fast on the machine, but I find that if I knead too long the dough looses the elasticity and the gluten test lo longer works.


Usually when I start kneading first, after som 3-5 min, the dough will let go of the sides of the bowl and be "banging" against the bowl. Then after another 5-8 minutes, the dough will once again stick to the sides, and just at this point the gluten test seems perfect. If I knead further from this point, the elasticity goes.


Do the rest of you find the same pattern? or how are your experiences. I might mention, that I mostly do quite full grain bread meaning that dough is heavier,




174 users have voted.


mozzie 2012 March 13

What sort of machine are you using?

 I'm using a planetary mixer (like a Kenwood/Kitchenaid), but I only use it for the initial mix & knead. I started with Jeff Hamelman's book, which (for the ciabatta) suggests 2-3 mins for mixing at a low speed, and 3 mins at second speed. That worked well for me, but I was probably running it a bit fast on the "second speed". Worked ok.

I then read in Prof Calvel's book (Gout du Pain) that it should be about 900 revolutions total . The low speed on my mixer is about 100 rpm and the second speed is about 200 rpm, so the original plan was Ok. I now use about 1 min low speed for mixing and about 4 mins on the second speed for the 900 revs in total. Note this is not the top speed of the mixer, its the second marker.

 You get to a point where you recognise that the dough is "right" - for my sourdough, it starts to get quite a shiny surface. For my instant yeast breads, its when the dough starts to separate from the mixing bowl (hard to describe, but obvious to me).

 I then just fold a couple of times  during the bulk ferment.

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 March 13
Hello Ilovesourdough, I recall reading somewhere that it is almost impossible to over work dough by hand whilst it is eminently possible by machine. Presumably, this is because when you are working by hand a) you tire out, b) you can tell by the feel when to stop. With a machine, on the other hand, a lot more energy can be expended, it does not tire and the machine has no feel for the dough. As mozzie says the guide is generally that the dough comes away from the bowl and climbs up the hook (assuming you are using a hook) and it gets a smooth shiny look about it. Good luck with your projects, Farinam
JuliaBalbilla's picture
JuliaBalbilla 2012 March 15

Yes, you can certainly overwork the dough when using a machine.  I either make mine in a Kenwood (1 minute to mix on lowest speed, then 4 mins kneading on Speed 1-2 by which time the dough will be climbing up the hook)  or in a Thermomix (20 seconds Speed 3 to mix and 2 minutes kneading on dough setting).  I usually leave it in the bowl for first rising, then fold, shape into a ball and place in a an ordinary bowl (oiled) for the second rising, before shaping or placing in a tin or banneton for a third rising.  Many people don't bother with the second rising, but I do so out of habit I suppose.  JB

David Winter 2012 March 16

Hi llovesourdough

When I first started baking, the gluten elasticity test was taught to all newbies and remained the benchmark for bakers.

In the mid 1990s, ciabatta made its first commercial appearance in Australia, and changed the way many approached doughmaking. In experiments conducted by the Bread Reseach Institute (BRI), it was identified that a dough cannot be overmixed, only over heated. The colder the water added, the longer the dough could be mixed and the greater the gluten development was achieved. Hence, stronger doughs and associated improvement in factors such as oven spring. In a commercial environment, the dough roughly increases 1oC each minute depending on the mixer used.  The BRI 's experiments included putting water in at close to freezing temperature, but the time it took the dough to achieve the desired FDT meant a very long mixing time and with it the additional energy costs. So the water temperature needs to be sensible.  

The critical factor is the FDT. We use 28oC as a guideline, and change this according to the weather (summer/winter), size of dough and type of dough. An essential part of my toolkit is an accurate thermometer calibrated from (say) 0oC to 40oC.

I suggest try different water temperatures (4oC is a good starting point) and see how long it takes to get to (say) 27oC. If the dough is over/under developed, then change the water temperature or mixing time.

In time, the thermometer might well become superfluous!


Good baking



mozzie 2012 March 20

with Mr Winter on temperature. He's obviously more experienced, and I didn't make the connection. I usually try to get a final temp at end of mix of about 25-26 degrees C, but usually runs about 27. I do this based on the rules of thumb provided by Jeff Hamelman in his book, but DW has given me a better basis in the theory behind the practice.

His bakery is in the same general area as me (so I should look in some time), and at this time of year in Melbourne AU I've been adding ice to get a water temp around 10 degrees C .to get this 26-27 degree final doughh (after mixing).

The idea of iced water seemed a little odd to me when I first came across it ( in a recipe for cuban bread from Miami), as previously I'd been working mostly from Elizabeth David's book. But the light bulb finally went on ... ambient temps in UK vs balmy Miami? no comparison!

Theo 2012 March 21

I assume from your post that you're a home-baker, in which case I would suggest kneading by hand. My reasons are partly aesthetic and partly practical. Aesthetic, because I love the feel of the dough. Practical, because the way the dough feels, and the way it changes as you knead (and between kneads, if you're doing more than one) tells you a lot about what is going on inside the dough. Kneading by hand was for me the key to developing a feel, literally, for the dough. I did once begin using an electric mixer, but it took too much pleasure out of the process without improving my bread at all.


My 2c.

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