Kneading Your Bread Dough

No special measures are needed to prepare and make dough. However, to achieve a successful outcome, a few points should be followed. Flour quality and other ingredients affect the absorption and kneading processes. 

Kneading process

The making of the dough is divided into two parts: absorption kneading followed by intensive kneading.

  • Absorption kneading is key to ensuring optimal solubility and absorption of the liquid and the flour particles. Absorption kneading is complete when the once shaggy dough has become smooth and homogenous. 
  • Intensive kneading speeds up dough development. The swollen strands of gluten are processed into a thin gluten film where starch grains are stored. The result is dough with an elastic structure and a dry surface. 
  • The dough reaches a “break down phase” when it is mechanically overworked. The net-like dough structure is torn apart, releasing the water that had been stored. 

“Kneading system”: The time it takes for the dough to develop depends on the machine used. Rotation speed, dough hooks and capacity affect dough development in various ways.

“Dough quantity”: The more dough is used, the more intensive the absorption kneading must be, since more ingredients leads to more friction.

“Added liquid”: The lower the temperature of the added liquid, the longer the absorption kneading must be, because the gluten-forming proteins delay the ability to bind water. 

Dough hydration (TA)

Dough hydration (“Teigausbeute,” or TA) is understood as the ratio of flour to water (liquid) used in a particular dough. The flour amount is always equal to 100%. Dough hydration primarily depends on the flour type and quality. 

Kneading process in breads using 100% rye flour 

Because rye flour has different properties than wheat flour, the kneading process must be adjusted accordingly. The ability of rye’s insoluble mucins to bind a large amount of water and inhibit gluten formation means the dough must undergo an extensive absorption kneading. 

The intensive kneading should be 1-2 minutes maximum, otherwise the dough will become extremely soft. 

Approximate timings:

  • Absorption kneading: 4-6 minutes
  • Intensive kneading: 1-2 minutes

Kneading process in rye breads mixed with some wheat

The absorption kneading and the intensive kneading are different in a mixed rye bread. The dough development phase varies according to the respective percents of rye and wheat used.

Approximate timings:

  • Absorption kneading: 8-10 minutes
  • Intensive kneading: 1-2 minutes

Influence of the ingredients

Each ingredient plays a specific role in the dough. Correct handling of the ingredients is important to achieving consistent quality.  

Ingredients at the right temperature

Temperature has the greatest influence on the development of the dough, which is why all ingredients should be brought to the right temperature. In practice, the added liquid, usually water, plays the biggest role in terms of determining temperature. Various pre-doughs also play a role. 

Dissolving the ingredients and creating a suspension

When working with 1-2kg of dough, it’s a good idea to create a suspension from the ingredients and the added liquid. When making pre-doughs, the yeast in particular should always be mixed into the added liquid.

Using old bread

There are two advantages to using old bread as an additional ingredient in the dough: It increases the ability to bind water and contributes pre-existing aroma. When making the dough, the pieces of bread should first be placed into the added liquid and left to soak for an hour, allowing them to take up a large amount of water. They are easily ground up during the kneading, leaving no visible particles in the new bread.  

Raw ingredients:


Normal drinking water is added to bread dough. The water should not be decalcified, because the presence of dissolved minerals in the water positively affects the gluten properties. Enriching it with oxygen benefits the wheat gluten.  


Fresh yeast must be used, since an increase in rest/rise time results in some loss of activity. Normally around 2% fresh yeast is used, but less is needed in multi-step dough-making methods. 

Yeast amounts depend on:

  • Dough size
  • Dough ingredients such as butter, eggs, egg yolks, sugar…
  • The dough-making method

If dehydrated yeast is used, it is important not to dissolve it in water, since this inhibits yeast activity.


Yeast doughs that have a small amount of sugar ferment faster. The more sugar is used, the less fermentation activity there is. When making the dough, it is important to make sure that the sugar is always dissolved in the added liquid. If this is not done, the dough development will be delayed and depending on the size of the sugar granules, the dough surface will also become wet and sticky as the dough rests.  


Using eggs makes the dough structure more malleable, leading to better dough stability. The large amount of lecithin in egg yolks improves the gliding properties of the gluten structure. This in turn increases baked volume, intensifies crust coloration and contributes to a more yellow crumb.    


Adding butter leads to a finer, drier and more malleable dough structure, as well as a longer shelf life and a delicate crust paired with an elastic and stretchy crumb. The timing for adding the butter during the mixing phase is very important for dough development and yeast activity. Butter should be added after the first 3-4 minutes of mixing. 


It is absolutely fine to use normal cooking salt, though sea salt can naturally also be used. The amount of salt varies from 1.8-2.5% depending on the quantity of flour. Taste and eating pleasure can also be controlled through the amount of salt used. With wheat doughs, salt can be added at the end of the absorption kneading. This supports better uptake of water and dough development. 

Dried fruit

In order to ensure a longer shelf life, dried fruit must be soaked in cold water. They will absorb 15% of the liquid. 

Nuts, kernels and seeds

To improve the flavor notes, it is advantageous to roast nuts and seeds in a moderately hot oven. Do not finely chop the nuts, as this will restrict their effect in the final baked good.


Spices should always mixed in in their ground form. This intensifies the aroma and brings out the flavor better.