Kneading – how do you know when you’ve done enough and the dough is ready to be left to rise?

If you’re just starting out, or even if you’re baking bread regularly, today I’d like to share a quick and simple test you can use at home to check that you’ve kneaded your dough enough.

This is in response to another common question I get asked in my Facebook group for home bread bakers – Bake Bread at Home – ‘Is there something special to look for that signifies you’ve kneaded long enough?’

Luckily, the answer is  – yes there is!

A quick tip to check if you’ve kneaded enough

Recipes often say something like ‘knead your dough until it’s smooth and elastic’ or ‘knead your dough for 10 to 15 minutes’. But these measures can be hard to judge in your own kitchen.

You don’t know, for example, how fast the author kneaded, or whether they use a machine or do it by hand.

So instead of relying on an assumption, use this quick and simple test instead to check your dough.

Find out more about how to knead your dough here.

As you knead your dough, be aware of how it changes. From a lumpy mixture of flour and water, the dough will start to become smoother and more stretchy. Once you’ve kneaded for AT LEAST 10 minutes (put a timer on – it’s longer than you think!), do this test.

Pull a chunk of dough off, about the size of a golf ball. Using your thumbs and first fingers, gradually tease the dough apart. Rotate the dough as you pull it apart so that you stretch it evenly.

If your dough is kneaded enough, eventually you’ll be able to stretch your dough far enough to see the light through it, without the dough breaking. This is called the windowpane test.

When the test doesn’t work

If your dough breaks easily, keep kneading and repeat the test again in a few minutes.

Bear in mind that if you’re using wholemeal flour, the bran in the flour will affect how smooth your dough is and you might not see this effect so well. Also if you have added seeds, nuts etc into your dough, try and stretch out a piece of just dough, so any additions don’t interfere with the test.

Why this tip works

As you knead your dough, the gluten network within your dough begins to form. Gluten forms a scaffold-like structure for your finished loaf.

It’s important therefore to check that the gluten network has developed; if not, your finished loaf may not rise as you expected.

When the windowpane test is successful, it demonstrates that your gluten network has developed enough to support you stretching out the dough very thin. And that you’ve kneaded enough – time to leave your dough to rise! Will you use this tip? Let me know in the comments

Will you use this tip? Let me know in the comments

Will you be trying out the windowpane test? Or have you used it successfully before? Let me know in the comments below ?.

Watch me demonstrate the windowpane test

You can also watch more on this tip in the following video.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or have any further breadmaking questions, do let me know in the comments! Or why not check out more breadmaking recipes, hints and tips on the blog.

You can also join my supportive community of home bread bakers over on Facebook. From sharing great bakes and recipes to asking and answering key breadmaking questions, there’s plenty to learn and join in with.