Freshly baked bread is not only delicious; it is also very comforting. The smell wafting through the house while the dough is rising, and then baking, the feeling of breaking bread, and oh, that first bite into fresh bread. You might be a little timid to try. Kneading dough might seem a little intimidating, so you wonder, can the mixer help. More specifically, can you use a dough hook to knead bread? We researched this, so you know how and when to use your dough hook.
A dough hook is one of the best tools for kneading bread. It is designed to work with heavy doughs. Its function is to fold and twist the dough upon itself, thus building the gluten in the dough so the bread comes out nice and airy.
Keep reading as we walk you through how to knead bread dough, when, and how to use the dough hook attachment. How does the dough hook work, and what to look for when kneading dough. We also address when to attach the dough hook, troubleshoot, and alternative ways to knead the dough.
How does a dough hook work?
A dough hook is a brilliantly designed device that turns the dough and folds it upon itself. It works best with heavy, dense dough that is not too sticky. If the dough is too liquidy, like cake batter, the dough hook will not be useful. A runnier cake batter will not mix well with a dough hook. The sticky dough might climb up the hook. Some types of bread, like sweet bread, require sticky dough. In that case, once the dough starts climbing up the hook you should finish the kneading by hand.
There are two different shapes for a dough hook: A C shape and a spiral shape. Always buy the right attachment for your mixer, according to the manufacturer's specifications. While a spiral hook might be slightly better for kneading bread dough, some mixer models cannot support that hook. If you are buying a mixer to knead the dough, look for one that can support a spiral hook. If you already have a mixer with a C-hook, it will be sufficient, and for the casual baker, it will hardly make a difference.
A stainless steel spiral dough hook that is dishwasher safe and better for kneading. However, it does not fit with all mixers. Check the specification of your mixer first.
C or J shaped dough hook. It comes with most KitchenAid mixers, coated. Not dishwasher safe.
How long do you knead bread with a dough hook?
Kneading bread takes time. The kneading process creates gluten, and gluten is good when it comes to bread. Gluten creates the lightness of the bread. The kneading helps the dough rise better, thus creating a lighter dough and the most delicious bread.
You should always turn your mixer to the lowest setting and wait till the dough sticks to the dough hook, a process that can take up to 3 minutes. Knead till the consistency stated in the recipe, usually smooth and elastic, around 10 minutes. Do not leave your mixer unattended when working with dough. The overworked dough will lose its elasticity, and the bread will be dense and flat. The dough might also climb up the dough hook, creating a hard to clean, sticky mess that is not good for your mixer.
The guidance above is just that, a guideline. It can take a little less or more time, depending on your mixer and the dough's weight. You might need to add a little flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough starts climbing up the hook. Never add more than a one-quarter cup of flour. If you need to add more, it is best to finish kneading the dough by hand.
For a more detailed breakdown of how long it will take to knead the dough with a dough hook, check out this article: "How long to knead the dough in a KitchenAid." While specific to KitchenAid, it will give you a good guideline.
How do you knead bread with a KitchenAid dough hook?
Once the yeast is dissolved; place the ingredients in the bowl, and follow the recipe directions as far as adding ingredients. When you are ready to knead, either swap the paddle hook, if you have one on or attach the dough hook. Mix on setting 2 while keeping watch. Do not allow the dough to climb too high up the hook. Stop kneading once the dough is smooth but elastic, and not over-knead the dough.
Can you use a food processor to knead dough?
This is a good question, especially since mixers that can handle bread dough are expensive, and kneading by hand while satisfying is strenuous. If you already own a food processor, you might want to avoid buying another expansive and bulky kitchen appliance. You will be happy to know that not only can you use a food processor, but it might also even work better at times than a mixer.
That being said, to use a food processor to knead your bread dough, you will need to make a couple of adjustments. Since a food processor creates more heat than a mixer, you should use cold water and maybe even ice instead of warm water to dissolve the yeast.
Yeast is a live culture that thrives at room temperature. Normally we would use warm water to activate it. However, too much heat can kill the yeast preventing the dough from rising. Keeping the dough at room temperature will result in better bread.
When using a food processor, you can use the regular metal blade. The plastic blade will just push the dough to the sides. Mix the dry ingredients first and add the liquids slowly while the food processor is working. Since the food processor mixes at a much higher speed, the dough would be kneaded faster. Avoid over kneading.
As with a mixer bowl, always verify that the bowl is big enough to contain and work the dough. As long as you follow some simple guidelines, your bread will shine.
Other ways to knead the dough:
Some people still love reading dough by hand. While it does require some force, there is also satisfaction with feeling the dough coming together. When kneading the dough by hand, it is best to mix the ingredients in a bowl and start the kneading process there. Once the dough starts coming together, transfer it to a lightly floured surface, and finish the kneading.
It is time-consuming, and there is more cleanup. You can work on a pastry sheet to contain the cleanup.
Kneading bread dough in your mixer using a dough hook is simple and effective. It will result in delicious bread readily available to you regularly.
As far as which bowl to use to knead the dough, any mixing bowl would do, as long as it is big enough. For more details, check out our article about "Mixing Bread Dough in a Stainless Steel Bowl."
Before you go check out this article about how to bread baking: "7 Bread Pans with Lids."