I bake bread on a weekly basis. I make gluten-free sourdough for me, wheat sourdough for my husband and boys, challahs for Shabbat for my guests and simple yeasted bread when I don’t have time or patience to make a sourdough. I won’t lie to you, it’s much easier to knead doughs in the mixer (with the hook attachment). I’ve been looking into buying a used one but there’s something humbling and therapeutic in kneading by hand, and I’m not sure where to put it. Not to mention, kneading is a good arm workout. You should hear how I pant when I press the dough or punch it with all my strength.
Three things you should know before you start.
- The dough needs time to proof, rise, and double its size. At least 1½ hours in a warm cosy environment. Some people put it in the oven with the light on. I don’t because I’m worried I’ll forget about it and put the oven on and burn the plastic bag that covers it. You can put it on the fridge, in a high shelf in the kitchen, window threshold but not with direct sunlight. It will rise too fast and will make your bread taste yeasty.
Another option is to let the dough proof overnight in the fridge.
- Don’t skip second proofing. It’s important to give the dough and yeast time to release their glasses, which makes the bread more airy.
- If you don’t have a dutch oven put it in a stainless-steel pot or in a loaf pan and cover with a bigger pot upside down.