I have been baking bread on and off for years (with reasonable results, generally with commercial-yeast starters), but have only got truly serious about it in the past 8 months or so. What inspired me was a copy of Andrew Whitley's 'Bread Matters', a brilliant book that lead me to purchasing my own flour directly from a mill and really trying to get to grips with sourdough (though I found hybrids easier). Andrew is a proponent of kneading (12 mins by hand approx), and makes it clear that he feels there is no other way to develop the gluten effectively in the bread you are creating. He particularly champions 'air kneading' - holding the dough in both hands and stretching it like a concertina. This particular technique has been the way I have been kneading my bread for the past while - in fact, I was often kneading my bread in this fashion for nearer 20 minutes (liked the feel of it, and it felt like a work-out!).
However, having discovered this site, and its contributors' plentiful references to Dan Lepard's minimal-knead approach (10 seconds with 10 minute breaks etc), I thought I would try his technique go for a change, even though I was pretty doubtful. The bread turned out to be delicious, with a particularly open crumb. As delighted as I was with this, I also felt cheated and a little bit upset. Surely bread is meant to be harder than this to make? And all those generations of bakers that kneaded extensively, sweat streaming from their brows - surely they knew that that was the 'magic' that made their bread the best?
Should I give up kneading? I know it does no harm to continue to do it, but what is the point if it doesn't add anything extra? Does anyone on this site still knead in the traditional fashion? Does anyone still feel that it gives their bread the edge over the no-fuss approach?