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I have recently starting making bread using the stretch and fold technique, getting much better results in terms of crumb than previously using my kitchen aid and mechanical kneading. I'm wondering what doughs/products this technique is NOT well suited to. Of particular interest are things like bagels, boiled fruit dumplings, hamburger buns and doughs rich in eggs and fat in general.

Are there particular types of products that benefit from SaF and some that inherently do not? I already suppose one indicator for SaF suitability would be high hydration and desirability of larger holes in the crumb.

  • A really similar question : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/21675/67 – Joe Mar 13 '15 at 13:43
  • Actually, I now realize that this is in some ways the opposite of that earlier question ... (ie, when does mechanical mixing not make a difference) – Joe Mar 14 '15 at 15:39
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I can think of one case where yeast doughs shouldn't suffer from mechanical mixing:

  • If you're going to be rolling out the dough (eg, for filling & making dumpling-like products, or rolling balls for monkey bread), you'd normally end up compressing the air bubbles when rolling it. Mechanical mixing has the same problem, so the difference between hand-kneaded and mechanical-kneaded shouldn't be noticeable.

I also tend to use a mixer on doughs that have so high of a hydration that they're more batter-like ... but I'm starting to question that practice after your question. (they're not that hard to stir with a wooden spoon ... it just takes a little time).

Most of the breads that I make in my mixer are enriched breads (lots of butter or milk), and have small bubbles. (what rumtscho refers to as 'cakelike crumb').

I also use a mixer on breads that take so long to knead that I wouldn't make them without a mixer -- it might result in an inferior loaf, but it's either a fresh slightly sub-par loaf, store-bought (which is likely also machine mixed), or no bread at all. You can work some larger air bubbles back into the mix by not punching it down (or doing it gently), but using a more gentle stretch and fold before shaping and the final proofing.

  • Do you ever use a bread machine for kneading? (Not baking for heaven's sake, but just kneading?) – Jolenealaska Mar 16 '15 at 12:11
  • @Jolenealaska : nope, I don't have one. – Joe Mar 16 '15 at 13:16
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As explained in my older answer Joe linked in a comment, the purpose of stretch and fold is to align the gluten sheets, producing the typical structure of kneaded bread. Depending on your final shaping, you end up with either a sheetlike structure (e.g. in ciabatta) or with spirals/threads in kozunak and other braided breads.

One reason to not do the stretch and fold is when you want to achieve a cakelike crumb with yeast dough. The mixer does develop the gluten, but it makes a regular crumb with no discernible direction of the dough structure. For Pullman style loaves, or also for some types of "cake" made with yeast dough (sorry, English doesn't have the correct word here) such as zwetschgendatschi, a mixer will produce better results. From your list, the hamburger buns will be closer to fast food restaurant style if you use the mixer, it's up to you to know if you want them this way.

The other, and much more common reason, is convenience. While kneading dough can be a very pleasant, relaxing thing to do, sometimes you just value your time over the perfect bread texture, and do it in the stand mixer, so you can take care of other stuff in the meantime.

The third reason why someone would choose the mixer is to avoid the learning curve of doing stretch and fold, or not knowing that the results of proper hand kneading technique are superior. This is, in my eyes, a false economy, since learning to knead properly is easy and a skill worth having even for casual bakers.

  • Thank you for your answer. Things like zwetschgendatschi or germknodel are exactly what I had in mind. Czech and German cuisine probably have lots of these in common, so your answer is very relevant to me. – VoY Mar 16 '15 at 12:41

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