Why You Should Always Knead Bread Dough By Hand

Kneading dough builds consistency and gives structure to raw mounds of flour and water. While some no-knead recipes deliver fluffy slices through fermentation, there's a "best way" to make crusts and breads at home.

Working dough is an important step that creates volume, distributes yeast, and manipulates air pockets throughout most dough recipes (per Master Class). Bon Appétit emphasizes gluten's role in the process: when flour and water are mixed, proteins found in the flour create a chain, resulting in that perfectly smooth, gummy texture. As dough is kneaded and pressed, gluten is netted together. Yet too much kneading can result in a chewy, dense lump that lacks the fluffy airiness necessary for crusty bread. Hand kneading can be a challenge, and the convenience of using mechanical equipment is a too-easy temptation. Who wants to bring exercise into the kitchen, anyway?

Before you pre-heat the oven, let us convince you otherwise. 

A perfectly textured dough

With machines and mixers at our disposal, taking the time to knead dough by hand seems like an unnecessary chore, but the process of kneading can be the difference between lumpy, shapeless masses and delightfully risen bakery items (via The Spruce Eats). Food processors and stand mixers more easily ruin dough by breaking down the glutinous components that bakers want and adding premature heat to the baking process (per Serious Eats). 

This is when less is more and it may be worth it to put the machines away and roll up your sleeves. It's much more difficult to overwork dough by hand, asserts Crust Kingdom. Even for something deceptively simple like pizza dough, food processors and stand mixtures can't replicate what hands can do. Plus, when you're kneading dough by hand, you don't need to be set up in any particular location next to an electrical outlet or plug. If you do feel tired, give yourself — and the dough — rest and come back to it (or try folding the dough and allowing a bit more time for the dough to rise).