Kneading Bread : A matter of push, fold, ¼ turn; pull, push, fold, ¼ turn and. . .
Women are built like an isosceles triangle
Men on the other hand are built like an inverse isosceles triangle
When kneading bread dough to a soft elastic consistency it may be helpful to remember which gender you are. Men are built like inverted triangles with their broad shoulders and upper body strength and slender hips; while we women on the other hand, given our child bearing role, are built like an isosceles triangle resting on its broad base, giving us our strength from the hips. That being the case, we ladies cannot stand at the counter top kneading bread dough from the shoulders for any great length of time as the men do. That would easily tire us far too quickly.
Thus, in order for us women to knead bread for the required amount of time it takes to develop the gluten in the flour, ten to fifteen minutes, we need to stand with our feet about a foot’s length apart; one behind the other. Then with a tai chi-like move, with movement originating from the hips; rock back on the extended foot pulling the dough towards you with your finger tips. Then rocking forward, press the dough with the heel of the hand and push it away from you. Fold it over and give it a quarter turn. Rock back and forth keeping the dough in a ball. The dough needs to be kneaded for ten to fifteen full minutes to develop the gluten adequately. FYI: The men in my kitchen experience who have learned this technique actually prefer it to their macho shoulder initiated style.
When the dough is soft, dry and elastic; when it feels like your earlobe or like a freshly powdered baby’s bottom, then you have achieved the perfect state of gluten development and it is time to transfer it to a bowl. Lightly cover it will a thin film of oil and a clean, dampened tea towel. Put it in a warm environment and allow it to rise until double in bulk. Punch down and shape, put in greased pans; allow to rise again and then bake until the loaves are fragrant, golden and sound hollow when turned out and slapped on their bottoms.
By the way, bread machines and dough hooks on mixers while they do an adequate job, do not, can not, impart the same energy as kneading bread by hand.
* Brewers and Nutritional yeasts do not function as either compressed live or active dry yeast. They are not leavening agents. Instead, they provide nutritional supplementation, assuring us of an adequate amount of B Complex Vitamins.
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