To knead before or after, that is the question


I've been experimenting adding other ingredients to my sourdoughs, making a few fruit breads, cheese breads, bread sticks etc and haven't come to the conclusion either way as yet.

Thus my question here

When adding dry ingredients like cheese, herbs, nuts or fruit do you add the ingredients as a part of the dry mixture or do you add them after you've finished the kneading process and have given the gluten a good workout?

Either way causes issues for me at times

add with dry mix and the kneading is difficult to get to a windowpane effect, the kneading is nowhere near as free flowing

add after and it's easy to have misjudged your wet ingredients or is sometimes hard to embed the ingredients into the dough.

So, what do you do?

I'll sign off with a pic from last weekend's "almost white" sourdough success




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farinam's picture
farinam 2013 January 25

Hi Darren,

With nuts and seeds , I have used both methods.  Adding from the start means that they are unformly mixed but dough development can be a bit trickier to judge but if you work to what you normally would in terms of energy input and or time it seems to work out OK.  Adding after development, I have often used my mixer even if only to keep things from escaping and I have use the following method as well.

If there are dried fruit involved, adding at the start can result in the fruit being mulched rather than being reasonably entire.  Using the mixer after development is OK but you need to be careful not to over-do it. 

To do it by hand, I use a series of 'letter-folds'.  Stretch the dough into a rectangle and spread one third of your additives along the middle third in the long direction and fold one third over.  Spread another third on the doubled section and fold the single over that and pinch closed all round.  Then put half the remainder in the middle and fold one third over, then the remainder and fold the last third back over that and pinch closed.  Then let it rest, stretchit out to a rectangle again and repeat the foldings.  If the dough layers break and stuff escapes, just gather it up and stuff it in somewhere and continue.  This seems to give a pretty evenly distributed result in the final loaf/buns and doesn't mess up the fruit or the structure of the dough.  Really, it just forms part of the normal stretch and fold technique.

Good luck with your projects.


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