Yup, that’s what the recipes always say when they speak about kneading bread. When I first started years ago, I had no idea what dough *SHOULD* look or feel like before the first rise. Being young, I didn’t have the patience to wait for a proper rise. Now there are zillions of video’s on making bread and web sites dedicated not only to the art of making bread, but also different types of bread such as rye, sourdough, and whole grain. My absolute favorite dough mixer is one I had many years ago and the closest I can come to a match of it is this:
The crank and the dough hook were much stronger then my hands and I was very successful in getting a good dough. Later I got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and used that to mix dough. I would make my own challah with my stuffed cabbage in the fall. (which is starting to remind me just how much a miss a real fall) Of course in those days I didn’t take pictures of our food. We just ate it.
When bread machines first entered the scene the one nicknamed “R2D2” was the rage.
I used to spend hours on GEnie reading the message boards about bread machines and I finally ended up getting one of these. GEnie was a paid service, similar to Compuserve and AOL. I loved playing with this and couldn’t believe how easy and fast and clean it was to make bread plus make dough. I used to wake Richard up in the middle of the night to taste one of the bread creations. Alas… we lived in Reno, Nevada and our elevation was more the 3000 feet. The bread burned most of the time and there was no way of adjusting either the cooking time or the machine temperature. After trying a few machines, I finally settled on a Panasonic 1 lb machine that seemed to fill the bill and work well. The key with the Panasonic was that it had a little yeast dispenser that kept the yeast separate till needed. Now I have what I consider to be a top of the line Zojirushi and it contains different programs and programs I can set myself for different timings. The recipe that follows is for sourdough bread using a starter. I do not use the bread machine to bake the bread, only to mix the dough.
You can purchase a sourdough starter from a mail order company such as King Arthur Flour or Sourdoughs International or you can make one yourself simply by adding 1/4 cup bread flour and 1/4 cup filtered water to a quart sized glass jar and let it stand at room temp till it starts to bubble a bit. Then discard about 2 tablespoons and add a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of filtered water and let it sit about another 24 hours. Continue the process of discarding some and adding till you have a bubbly mixture. Then you can either make a bread or discard more mixture; feed it with more water and flour and store it in the refrigerator. At that point you can feed it weekly always discarding a bit.
Take out 1/2 cup of your starter and add about 1/4 cup four/water to it. (My mixture was very thin so i just added flour.) Let it sit out 5 or 6 hours or more until it looks like this:
In a mixing bowl, or bread machine or food processor add:
3 or more cups of bread flour
2 TBS butter cut into small chunks
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS sugar
1 cup water
regardless of your choice of mixers it is important to WATCH the dough. Flour or water needed may vary based on humidity and other factors. After 10 minutes of kneading it should hold together in a ball and just be slightly sticky to touch. You can add more water or flour if it looks dry (not holding together) or goppy (add more flour) Once you have a dough smooth dough ball, cover and let rest about 10 minutes. Butter a bowl or plastic container for first rise. Butter a piece of saran wrap and cover the bowl or container. You are going for double in bulk. Remember, you did not put any yeast in this and it could take a good deal of time to rise. Here is what happened to mine after 10 hours:
At this point, I patted it down and transferred to a cutting board. I think a bench knife is one of the most important tools for baking bread. I use it to scrape dough off the board and it lets me use less flour in handling the dough.
I cut the dough into four equal parts and shaped into an oblong. I buttered some parchment paper and placed the four oblongs on it and covered with buttered saran wrap. After about four hours this is what it looked like:
With a sharp knife, I made three slits in the dough, painted it with 1 egg mixed with 2 tbs water and sprinkled sesame seeds on top. I cooked it at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.