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How to Knead Bread Dough and Why Knead Bread Dough?

Updated on June 6, 2011
Homemade Bread photo: Emily Carlin @flickr
Homemade Bread photo: Emily Carlin @flickr

Why Do I Need to Knead Dough?

Kneading bread dough is a crucial step that can't be overlooked in most bread recipes. But why is it necessary to knead bread dough? Here is a basic explanation of the processes involved when you knead bread dough and why you must knead bread dough.

When you knead dough, the the wheat proteins are mixed with the water, and they start to get strong. Then gluten forms as the wheat proteins becomes stronger, and as the dough is stirred and mixed together. When the dough is kneaded, even more gluten is produced.  This causes the dough to become elastic.

What Is Gluten and Why Is It Important?

Why is gluten important in the bread making process? Well, first gluten causes air bubbles to form as it makes the dough get more elastic. These air pockets let carbon dioxide gas rise through the dough. The gas is formed when yeast is added. The yeast and carbon dioxide are what makes bread rise.

If the bread didn't rise, it would be tough, dense, and flat- not very tasty at all. When bread rises as it should, it becomes light, chewy, and airy with a crisp crust. Gluten is also needed in order to enable the dough to stick together.

How to Knead Bread Dough

It is very easy to knead dough. Here's simple steps for how to knead bread dough:

Cover your hands lightly with flour to keep them from sticking to the dough. Sprinkle the surface lightly with flour where you will be kneading the dough as well.

Roll the dough out into a flattened circle a bit larger than your two hands. Take the edge of the circle that directly across from you, and fold it into the middle. Push down on it with both palms of your hands and then push it away from you. Turn the bread a quarter turn, and do it again. Repeat the process for the recommended time in your bread recipe.

How Long to Knead Bread Dough?

You should knead bread dough at least 8-10 minutes. The most common mistake that people make when kneading dough is that they stop too soon. This doesn't allow enough time for the process to fully develop to cause the bread to rise.

The dough should have quite a bit of elasticity and lose its stickiness. You should be able to pinch off a piece and stretch it pretty thinly before it breaks. Another way to test it is to poke it and see if it bounces back. This is how you know that the gluten has developed properly. Follow the recipe instructions, as the kneading times will differ depending upon the type of recipe you are creating.

Kneading Bread Dough for Health Reasons

Under a lot of stress and yoga isn't your thing? Kneading bread is a bit like tenderizing meat by pounding it; it can be quite a stress reliever. Many bakers enjoy making homemade breads and kneading the dough. Relieving stress is one reason why. Try it sometime when you've had a bad day.

How to Knead Bread Dough Video How to


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