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I'm just wondering, what's the point of letting dough rise twice? I've seen a bunch of recipes in the form:

  1. Mix dough together and knead
  2. Let it rise
  3. Knead again
  4. Let it rise again

Why do they do this? Doesn't kneading just push the air bubbles out?

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why do these recipes have you knead again? Most recipes in the Bread Baker's Apprentice for the more rustic breads (Italian, French, etc. as opposed to sandwich bread) say to degass the dough as little as possible before the second rise. –  justkt Nov 11 '10 at 13:15

5 Answers 5

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Allowing dough to rise twice results in a finer gluten structure than allowing it to rise once. It results in a smaller crumb and prevents huge gaping airholes in your bread. The reason that you have to let it re-rise is that you just pushed all the air out with the kneading you did developing that gluten structure.

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Wouldn't kneading it once, hard, create that gluten structure? I always find the bread will taste much more "yeasty" if you let it rise twice, so I only let it rise once. –  bobobobo Nov 11 '10 at 20:08
@bobobobo - I only knead bread once as well, but I let it rise twice and usually also use a pre-ferment to help get even more of the rustic bread taste (that "yeasty" taste). On top of that, the gluten structure can be developed soley by allowing a long (18 hours or so) rise as propounded by the no-knead bread crowd. –  justkt Nov 12 '10 at 14:57
I've tried the no-knead method a number of times and I don't like the sourbread taste it develops. I'll be trying ordinary kneading shortly. –  BaffledCook Nov 12 '10 at 18:16

I love making bread. I make it every other day or three. (Also make your own butter it's so easy and tastes great plus less expensive than buying it. You can control the amount of salt.)

My suggestion, as most of the reasons have already been very well addressed, is to split your recipe into two batches. Half of it should be cooked straight from its first rise. The other half should be knocked back and let it rise again.

Obviously, with the first half, you need to put it in the final baking container not the rising bowl.

When they have both cooled from baking, do a taste and texture comparison. You can decide what you like and ultimately that's what counts.

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I like this suggestion as it lets you decide which is the better method. –  MADCookie May 1 '12 at 19:45

One reason to do a second knead (and I'd do a real short, gentle one if required) is to redistribute the yeast a little, giving it fresh food to work on.

But I'm not sure I'd actually knead twice even if I wanted to do that--I'd lightly punch down and fold the bread in thirds and call it done.

As already said, the second rise does nice things for texture, and it also allows the yeast to grow longer, giving you more yeast flavor and converting more sugars from the flour giving you a nice flavor complexity. In my opinion, you can get the same effect by having a much longer (like overnight) cool rise in the first place.

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Leavened bread just seems to taste and bake much better with two or more knead & rise cycles.

The knead process layers and stretches out the gluten to make a smooth, consistent texture which will hold together when baked; it also traps the yeast gas (CO2) as fine bubbles in the dough.

After the last knead you should transfer the dough to the pre-warmed container you are going to cook it in/on and let it rise in that.

With doughs that are slightly more oily or wet than standard bread dough you can cheat at use a standard food processor with its horizontal chop blade to knead. Just put all the pre-warmed ingredients into the processor and let it rip until it forms a smooth ball. This is great for pizza dough (100% whole meal flour and lots of olive oil). You have to hang onto the machine though, because as the dough starts to ball, the machine will walk off the bench!

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I think you meant gluten as that is what gives bread it's structure not the starch. –  sarge_smith Nov 11 '10 at 5:53
Traditional Neopolitan pizza dough does not contain oil. Other area pizza dough does, though. –  justkt Nov 11 '10 at 13:13
@sarge_smith yes gluten not starch! Starch is the hardner? –  TFD Nov 11 '10 at 21:52
It's more along the lines of the flesh while gluten is the bones. Starch can be a thickener and is often used that way. It is what creates the flavor and the second half of the structure. –  sarge_smith Nov 12 '10 at 22:52

A lot of the reasons for the second rise is the texture. The reason for a long fermentation is to not only enhance the flavor but develop the gluten structure. There are recipes that do not do anything but let the dough ferment and the longer the better. I purchased a Bosch mixer and having this machine, the second rise the thing of the past for me. The developed gluten structure with a Bosch is amazing. I have been making bread in every imaginable way possible for over forty years. With no help mixing and kneading other than the muscle that one has in his or her biceps and forearms. I purchased Kitchen-aid mixer some thirty years ago and have been through three of them until I purchased a Bosch. I was grateful for the help the machine gave me. I always did the two proofing method and was satisfied I was getting the best product. Then the Bosch was the lasting decision breaker for me. I knead for 10 min with the machine and rolled the dough into loaves and let them rise. the bread is unbelievably supple and delicious. This is even after I freeze all my loaves before eating.
I guess what ever your process is, either by hand or machine do a thorough job on of kneading and developing the elasticity in the dough. If you have a Kitchen-aid knead for at least 10 min and continue the kneading process for 5 extra min after you take it from the bow and you will be able to skip the second knead. If this seems to much, do two raises.

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