Why You Should Knead Dough By Hand, According To Paul Hollywood

Breadmaking has become very popular as of late. Globe and Mail covered the why, but the how of becoming a thorough-bread-maker is a bit more complicated. There are many things that can go wrong in the process of baking bread — the dough not rising being one. Red Star Yeast lists other common issues, like the bread rising but collapsing in the oven, dough being too sticky, crust being too thick ... you get the picture. Some of these problems could be attributed to improper yeast usage, but kneading is also a very important and specific element in bread making. 

According to Elizabeth Yetter, writing at The Spruce Eats, kneading is what strengthens the dough and provides structure, giving it that "silky and soft" and "a little cushiony feel." She tells us that "when the dough is kneaded, the proteins begin to line up in such a way that strands of gluten develop and create a structure that allows for the trapping of gases and the dough to rise." And while it might be easy to grab an electric aid for that process (or even a culinary hand tool), Paul Hollywood suggests otherwise.

You knead to do this one thing

Hollywood, as his website bio tells us, is a judge on "The Great British Baking Show," as well as serving as a judge on the US version, "The Great American Baking Show," on top of having a few shows of his own. He's an author ("Paul Hollywood's Bread," "100 Great Breads") and self-professed bread-lover, and safe to say he knows a thing of two about baking. He suggests that when kneading bread, it's best to get in there and use your hands. 

In 2016 The Great British Food Awards highlighted some advice from Hollywood. Kneading by hand helps you get a "real feel for the texture" and is a much better barometer that "just judging by eye." He likens this to the methods of a true artisan, because without a machine, it's really handmade.

While it may be easier to throw the dough into a machine and let that do the work for you, trying to judge readiness by the dough's look. But the true test of your dough's readiness before baking can only be judged by how it feels. "The dough will become less sticky as you knead," he told SBS Australia. And once you've perfected that, its only a few small steps to some great "artisan" — meaning truly hand-made — bread.