I don't have a bread machine or a mixer.

Kneading dough by hand is a long and tiresome process. Are there any tricks to developing gluten?

  • 3
    Doing it by hand help develop muscles and help to remove any aggression :) Jul 26, 2018 at 15:33
  • 3
    How about a food processor? I use mine for pizza dough. It's an extremely versatile kitchen tool that you'll get plenty of use out of. Unless this is for a situation with limited/no access to electricity, it's a worthwhile investment.
    – alexw
    Jul 26, 2018 at 19:50
  • To me, kneading dough is one of the great joys of life. If I was in your house, I'd do it for you, every time. Jul 27, 2018 at 8:39

4 Answers 4


Time and stretching will do the trick as well. Full on kneading or using a mixer is not necessarily required. There are other techniques, such as "stretch and fold" or "slap and fold", which are generally used with high hydration dough. Here is one example of a no-knead bread. Also, This guy is a master...if I recall correctly, none of his recipes use a mixer or the kind of kneading that you are asking about. It does take some practice to use the techniques he describes. Bottom line: using a mixer, or kneading by hand is not always necessary.

  • 2
    seriouseats.com/2011/06/… is an article with some good insights on why no-knead works. To put in my own words, knead is the shortcut way to get gluten to develop, but simply allowing time works too without the mechanical effort. I personally was skeptical when I first tried, but for me such methods seem to work more consistently.
    – dlb
    Jul 26, 2018 at 14:05
  • 1
    In my own experience, if you can add the time, even stretching and folding can be dispensed with. For my sourdough I mix everything at once, starter (no levain ), flour water and salt - I use a spatula for mixing; let autolyse for 15-60 min (any longer and it gets trickier to even out the texture without kneading); mix briefly again with spatula, cover and leave for up to 24 hrs; punch down dough then lift out of bowl to shape into proofing basket; cover and leave about 2 hrs; turn out into preheated cast iron pot to bake.
    – Spagirl
    Jul 27, 2018 at 3:16
  • I do something like this mixing in 3 stages: whisk (liquidy), spatula (while incorporating most of the flour, and on the counter if I'm going all the way with it. For a no-kneed variant, I just whisk/spatula it, and put it in the fridge for 12-48 hours. Jul 30, 2018 at 21:39

I don't consider kneading (bread) dough particularly tiresome. You start with the right amount of liquid (including all soluble components and yeast) and put in flour gradually until the consistency is right. Obviously before the consistency is right, the dough is comparatively soft except for the final part. Since you started out with the soluble components already distributed correctly in the liquid, the whole purpose of kneading is to connect flour and liquid. This happens comparatively fast.

After initial raise, you don't knead anymore (which means mingling components) but rather structure the piece of dough: you work it into a dome where the glutinous components form a skin under tension. This tension is what keeps your dough from just going flat under expansion and rather have it maintain the shape of a loaf.

If you cut slices from a properly formed loaf, you'll sort of see it ordered in concentric circles (or rather ovals).

So basically the trick is to start with the liquid phase already prepared, know when to stop adding flour, and know when to stop kneading and rather start structuring the piece of dough. Also know when there is no point in further kneading and rather letting the dough rest.


If you have a food processor you can make fully kneaded dough in 45-90 seconds. The one trick is to put in dry ingredients, pulse a few seconds to mix, then with mixer on pour water required down the spout as the blades spin. Be sure to use cool water as the fast RPM causes friction heat. As the dough pulls up into a ball your set. Not recommended with moist doughs.


I've been using Ken Forkish's method from his Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast book.

It's folding rather than kneading.

Very low input required and it's been consistently good for me as an amateur. Check out his method here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0owQi_U44c

It yields crusty topped white bread with great chewy crust and light, large holed crumb.

For 1 loaf:


  • 500g white bread flour (~10-12% gluten)
  • 360g water (at 30-35C)
  • 10.5g sea salt
  • 2g dried yeast


  • Large lidded food safe tub for mixing dough
  • Cast iron dutch oven with lid


  • In a large food safe, plastic, lidded tub, mix the flour and water until just combined, then put the lid on and wait 30 minutes (this is called autolyse)
  • Sprinkle your yeast and salt over the top and then with a wet hand, reach underneath the dough, gently grab a handful and stretch it outwards, folding it back on top of the rest of the dough. This develops the gluten. Rotate the tub a bit and repeat this a few times until the dough stiffens slightly. Using a pincer style finger and thumb, "snip" the dough into sections then recombine with by folding as before. Put the lid on and wait 15 minutes.
  • Repeat the folding method, without the pincers this time, then re-lid and wait 45 minutes.
  • Perform another folding session. Re-lid the tub.
  • Now leave the dough for 4 hours (depending on the temperature of your kitchen) - It should be 3 times the size it was before this wait.
  • Form your loaf: Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured worktop. Fold from the edges of the dough into the middle, flip it over and pull the dough towards you using both hands with little fingers hard on the worktop. This makes the dough ball up as you pull it towards you.
  • Carefully lift your ball of dough into a well-floured banneton (or a bowl with a floured tea towel in), lightly flour the top of the loaf and wrap the banneton in a plastic bag with some headroom and wait half an hour.
  • Put a lidded, cast iron dutch oven into the oven and turn up to 240C. Wait another half an hour.
  • Check the loaf has risen (proofed) by poking with a floured finger. It should bounce back almost fully but not quite.
  • Tip it out onto a floured surface, so that the folded underneath should now be on top.
  • Carefully get the screaming hot dutch oven out and take the lid off, placing the risen loaf (folded side up) into the pan, Be careful! Stick the lid on and put back in oven for 30 minutes
  • Take the lid off and bake another 15 minutes at full temperature to crisp and colour the top.
  • Take loaf out (carefully!) and let cool on a rack.
  • Enjoy :)

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