The four main methods of kneading are
Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Whichever method you use, be sure to utilize the directions on the KNEADING PROCESS page to properly develop the bread's gluten in order to achieve a perfect texture in your 100% whole wheat bread!
Using a MIXER with a bread hook
The image above shows two types of mixers which can knead bread dough. On the left is the Kitchen Aid, and on the right is the Bosch. The advantage of appliances like these is that you can make multiple loaves of bread at a time. I have a Bosch, and have made as much as 8 loaves at one time with this machine.
Using a FOOD PROCESSOR
A food processor's primary advantage is the speed with which it develops the gluten. The kneading process which will take 10-15 minutes in a mixer and 20 minutes by hand will take 1-5 minutes in a food processor.
This is the blade you
need to use for
kneading bread dough
with a food processor.
Do NOT use the metal
But the speed that a food processor brings to the kneading process comes with a word of caution: your dough can go from perfectly developed gluten to over-worked, broken down gluten within a minute or so. (Once the developed gluten has broken down, you have to discard the batch of dough, as it cannot be "re-built".)
If you use a food processor, knead initially for 45 seconds or so, then stop the machine, and feel and check the dough. Continue to do this every 15-30 seconds thereafter!
And most important...
Always use ICE WATER
for ALL your liquid
when kneading bread
The friction created by a food processor will create so much heat that it will kill the yeast unless you start with ICE WATER.
Kneading by HAND
There is something unique and special about kneading bread by hand! You have the feel of the dough under your hands the entire time, and truly get to not only see, but also feel, the transformation from the initial glob of goopy dough to its finished state of shiny, smooth, and elastic.
The tricky part of hand kneading 100% whole wheat bread is that you must not keep adding flour. As the pictures on the kneading page show, the proper proportion of flour and water mean that at the outset, your dough is going to be incredibly sticky-gooey-taffy-stick-to-everything!
DO NOT keep adding flour ... just keep kneading away and within 10-15 minutes, the stickiness will get less and less, and the dough will begin transforming under your hands!! Laurel Robertson's book The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking has a wonderful description of hand kneading, along with great illustrations. She also gives some excellent tips for working with the gooey-taffy-like stage (such as using a dough scraper, and wetting the counter surface and your hands to help keep the dough together in a ball as opposed to all over your counter and hands!!)
Using a BREAD MACHINE
Making 100% whole wheat bread in a bread machine presents special challenges. As explained in the section on kneading, getting the flour/water proportion correct is done by feel, as opposed to measuring out ingredients in specific proportions. Different batches of flour have different moisture levels. Humidity levels also affect how much water needs to be added.
Bread Machines are designed to have an exact amount of each ingredient added in specific order, and then have the machine operate un-attended to mix, knead, and bake the bread.
This works well with dough made with some or all white flour, but not so well with 100% whole wheat flour. While I do not have a bread machine, I have worked with them at the homes of friends and have yet to produce a good loaf of all whole wheat bread from them.
Additionally, not all bread machines are designed for whole wheat breads, which need longer kneading times and rising times. From my research, the one brand which WILL work is the Zojirushi.
Even though the Zojirushi has the ability to do a longer knead cycle, and longer rising period, this still does not overcome the problem of developing an all whole wheat dough that has great texture and good flavor.
Bryanna Clark Grogan, whose Gluten Free Yeast Bread recipe is listed in the Gluten Free section has discovered the key to making an all whole wheat loaf of bread in a bread machine. Please see her blog post for two fabulous recipes, as well as an explanation of why extra steps are needed to create a flavorful whole wheat loaf in a bread machine.