I love to bake bread, but its too painful to knead it by hand for long enough! Anyone have any work-arounds? I'm not a seasoned bread maker, and I have a bread machine, but I don't like bread baked in it!
There are a few options:
Most bread machines have an option to knead/mix only - you can then take the dough out and shape and bake as you would if you were doing things by hand.
You can also get "dough hooks" for most stand mixers (e.g. Kenwood or Kitchenaid), these are a bent arm or corkscrew sort of shape designed to knead the dough, and are what is often used in commercial kitchens: here's a picture of a Kitchenaid one. Edit: Dough hooks also come with some hand mixers, but I can't imagine that this would be any better for arthritic hands than kneading unaided.
You can also make "no-knead" breads, these might be quick breads such as scones or soda bread, which basically you mix the dough, shape, then bake. Or they might be a yeast based bread, where all you do is mix the ingredients, incubate to rise, then bake. These last ones are a specialist area of bread baking, so I don't have any advice on good recipes. I would google for highly rated ones.
@Joe reminded me in a comment, there are also a ton of recipes for food processors, which basically mix and knead in the the processor. This does not require a special blade, just the standard sharp metal blade.
I found that autolysing the dough before kneading reduces necessary kneading time drastically.
I do the following:
- mix flour with water with spoon (just coarse, so that no flour stays dry)
- let it sit around an hour
- mix in the sourdough, short kneading
- mix in the salt, short kneading (it should not stick to the bowl anymore at this point)
Also, if you make smaller breads, you don't have to knead them that long.
Edit: I make following c.a. 0.5kg bread 2-3x a week, helps keeping my sourdough strong.
- 350g bread flour + 260g-280g water
- after autolysis I add c.a. 130g sourdough
- let it sit in the fridge overnight, then let it warm up for a few hours
- fold it in 3 twice (two sides, then up and down), cover it, wait half an hour -> repeat 4x
- after the 4th folding form bread, wait 40min-1h
- cut it, moist the dough
- preheat, 230°C 25min with steam, 210°C 15-20 without steam
Adding to the already mentioned, technique similar to those advanced by Hetzberg and Francois in blogs and their 5 Minute Artisan breads require no kneading, in fact most of their recipes and similar ones seem to work better the less you work the dough beyond simple mixing. Not far from G.B.'s advise, you mix the ingredients, I use a dough whisk, like the one pictured here though there are many styles. They work nicely for hydrated dough or batters. If that is still tough for you, a stand mixer would work fine with a kneading hook, paddle, etc. without bothering to go beyond just getting the ingredients reasonably mixed.
Then you let rise 3-4 hours at room temperature, exact time is really not critical. Then refrigerate until about ready to use. Cut off the size you want as the batch is enough for multiple loafs and gently form a round, use a shaping basket or a bread form, your choice and let it rest for about 40 minutes. Key then is to use a hot, humid oven and your rise will be oven spring, not a traditional hour or more rise. Pizza/bread stones and a pan of water in the oven are often advised, but I have had very good luck using a cast iron Dutch Oven, covered for the first half of the bake to trap humidity giving good spring and a really nice crust.
Theirs is just one description and they helped to popularize it, but I have seen many other descriptions similar. It helped me a lot get results I liked without beating up my hands or abusing my mixer.
There is a technique called stretch and fold that requires remarkably little active kneading time. The way I do it is:
- Form the dough into a rough triangle or square.
- Fold the corners in twice.
- Flip the dough over and let it rest for a minute or two.
- Repeat until the dough is kneaded.
I'm not entirely sure why it works, but it fully kneads the dough in only a few minutes of active kneading.
Use your feet
I kid you not, dough for Udon noodles is very tough to knead, and it's not unheard of for people to basically just walk in place on it. Just put it in a durable freezer gallon bag, wrap it in a towel, and have at it. I convinced a friend to try it once for a meal we were making together; it was fun.
Disclaimer: May not work for all types and/or volumes of dough
I bake bread almost every week using a kitchen machine like this:
The hook at the front left is specifically made for kneading dough. There are different brands selling these machines (Bosch, Kenwood, Kitchen Aid, etc.), and they all work more or less the same.
If you just want to reduce the required kneading time, you may consider making rye breads. For rye flour kneading does not really have an effect, so it is enough to properly mix the ingredients. Note, however, that you have to enter the world of sourdough then, as rye flour needs some acidity to form a proper crumb. Also note that the resulting bread will taste very different, so this might not be a solution for everyone.
I used to run a guest house and made homemade bread for the guests. But time and energy were a bit limited, so I decided to use the bread maker right up to the pre-cooking stage.
Let it do the mixing for you; you can even leave the dough to rise. Then prepare your bread tin as you like, heat the oven to 220C and, while it’s heating, leave the dough to rise in the tin and bake as normal. If the mixture was good the final product should taste and look pretty good too.
Or you could try sourdough bread which tends to use folding the dough rather then kneading.