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!

8 Answers 8


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.

  • 10
    My mom does most of her kneading with a dough hook, then does a final minute or two of kneading by hand. I knead entirely by hand, and neither of us notice a difference in the end.
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 23:56
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    There are also lots of bread recipes designed for the food processor. Specially designed ones will make use of the standard blade, but you can also get a plastic blade that will let you knead doughs that aren't necessarily designed for food processors.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 19:37
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    @joe - that's right, I forgot about those. I'll edit that in. Thanks.
    – bob1
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 19:40
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    +1 for using the breadmaker just for kneading. I've never had good bread baked in a breadmaker - varying degrees of "adequate", but that's it. And that's including other people using their breadmakers too. An oven simply does a better job of it. Taking the hard work out of the kneading is the biggest win for a breadmaker, and the final stage of putting it in a bread tin is simple enough.
    – Graham
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 13:59
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    @Graham - I agree, we use a breadmaker for our everyday loaves, but the bread is just adequate. If I want something better I'll make by hand. I find that the knead from a breadmaker isn't the best either, tends to need a little extra gluten to get the right consistency.
    – bob1
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 20:08

I found that autolysing the dough before kneading reduces necessary kneading time drastically.

I do the following:

  1. mix flour with water with spoon (just coarse, so that no flour stays dry)
  2. let it sit around an hour
  3. mix in the sourdough, short kneading
  4. 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

Edit: I only found out just recently, that sourdough breads are not kneaded, instead only folded. link There are different techniques, like stretch and fold, coil fold.

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    Thanks for the autolysing link, that was really interesting.
    – Kingsley
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 22:25
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    I use autolysing with my sourdough. It does take quite a bit of time but I've managed to make sourdough by just folding the dough; no kneeding. I've found this kind of dough needs to be very most and works especially well when baked in a dutch oven. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 12:43
  • This. I just keep dough in the fridge like this. It doesn't need any kneading - just mix it up and throw it in the fridge for at least 12-18h. When I want to make bread I just cut a piece out of the dough ball, shape it and bake. You can let it warm up and rise a bit, but it's really not necessary. Baking top rack in a cold oven with a water tray below the cooking rack gives it a quick humid warm-up and rise during pre-heat and prevents underside burning - saves time and work! If you want a superfine, silky, tight crumb you do have to knead, mind you.
    – J...
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 14:44
  • I didn't know about this method. I'll have to try it some time.
    – bob1
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 20:14
  • 130g yeast? I guess this is a typo? 130g starter? 13g yeast? 1.3g yeast?
    – Stephie
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 13:59

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.

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    I picked up a dough whisk as people online seemed to swear by them for '5 minute' type breads... but I've found that a good wooden spoon works pretty well, too. (you just have to make sure to get into the corners of the container)
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 19:36
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    @Joe, wooden spoon was my go to as well until my joints got too bad. Once I went to the whisk though, I really like it and the way it cuts through. My SO though hates it and wont touch them so it is definitely personal preference. And I will not even try them on a stiffer dough, only looser ones.
    – dlb
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 19:50

There is a technique called stretch and fold that requires remarkably little active kneading time. The way I do it is:

  1. Form the dough into a rough triangle or square.
  2. Fold the corners in twice.
  3. Flip the dough over and let it rest for a minute or two.
  4. 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

  • Make sure to squeeze out the air from the bag before sealing it, otherwise you'll get a very similar result to walking on a balloon. (Ditto for using a rolling pin to crush graham crackers. Ask me how I know.)
    – Marti
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 21:47
  • I do this when making noodle dough.
    – mroll
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 8:03

I bake bread almost every week using a kitchen machine like this:

Bosch MUM4

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.


You can use the bread machine, take out, allow to sit for 15 minutes (not sure exactly how long) then knead the loaf once using a push-then-fold rotate and repeat twice That is exactly three kneading actions Then tin, allow to rise, and bake.

I used to do this in a cafe with batches of 13 loaves at a time.

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