To knead or not to knead

So we still had leftover buttermilk so I wanted to try buttermilk bread again. Instead of going to a cookbook I did a search online and came across this recipe from someone’s blog:

I love all the pictures and I love the constant reassurance that it is okay that the dough is sticky. This was so helpful to me (my major bread problem is adding flour and adding flour and then adding too much flour… teehee.) The first rise took a long time. I think our house is too cold for bread to rise, so I turned the oven on to warm up the kitchen.

The baking was a little funny, as the first loaf got brown on top before it was done on the bottom. So with the second loaf, I switched it to the bottom rack earlier than I had with the first loaf. It got a little burned on the bottom, but I think will be baked better throughout.

Here is the final result:

The bread is delicious. A little sweet and hearty. I had a PB & J on it last night. Amazing.

Now today’s topic of discussion: Using a Kitchen Aid to knead bread. Two things, it feels like cheating and the bowl never feels big enough. On point number one, there is something so romantic and domestic and I-feel-like-my-grandma-y about the idea of truly deeply kneading a loaf of bread. And with the right kind of dough (not today’s sticky mess) it can feel very satisfying. I love the feel of the dough when it gets smooth, the ache in your arms, and the way the dough changes. However, it is exhausting and so much work and takes a long time, which I don’t have if the baby is getting fussy. The kitchen mixer is just SO much easier. I love that I can just leave it while it does all the work and magic, there is your dough. However, for many recipes, I feel like our bowl isn’t big enough. The dough constantly seems to be pouring over the sides. Today, it ended up working out, but other times I have had to take out half the dough and do part of the kneading by hand or take turns in the mixer. Frustrating. I liked today’s recipe because it told me specifically how to do the kneading in the mixer.

Other kitchen adventures in the past few days:

4 dozen chocolate chip cookies (I love the recipe on the nestle tollhouse bag).

Tuscan white beans with sage and garlic (from the Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker). Here they are before I turned on the slow cooker. Delicious.

4 comments on “To knead or not to knead

  1. Amy says:

    That bread looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Shayn says:

    Sticky is totally okay! Moisture and kneading basically do the same thing (develop the gluten), so the stickier you leave it, the less you have to worry about under-kneading. But, I totally get the impulse to add too much flour – I have to hold myself back all the time. That’s partially why I like the no-knead recipes like from ‘artisan bread in five minutes a day’ or that new york times no-knead one that you bake in a pot. But, I also usually do 4-6 loaves at a time for the co-op which is too much to fit in the mixer and a lot to try and knead by hand.

    • rachhs2 says:

      Wow. I knew you were the yogurt maker, I didn’t know you were also the bread maker. I feel like learning about gluten and bread making is kinda like being in science class (which I hated), but the results are so much tastier. I want to try this from that same blog:

      • Shayn says:

        It is a little science-y, but also a little intuitive. Learning about the gluten/moisture relationship and the fact that the loaves keep baking inside while they’re cooling (so you can’t, much to my past self’s chagrin, check for doneness by cutting a loaf in half when it comes out of the oven) were the major revelations for me. Though I also feel like it’s sort of hard to really badly screw up a small batch of bread…short of serious under- or over- cooking, it’s still going to be great when it’s still warm from baking.

        That looks like a great baguette recipe! I’ve never managed a good baguette, though I tried a few times while I was on the commune. Maybe I should give it another go?

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