Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Lori Walker
Kneading is an important bread-making process because it develops gluten and evenly distributes the carbon dioxide bubbles in the dough.
But using stand mixers can lead to over-kneading the dough. It will become very dense and stiff, resist being reshaped, be hard to flatten, and easily rips when pulled.
So how can you fix over-kneaded dough? Can you still bake it? Let’s find out.
5 Ways To Fix Over-Kneaded Dough
1. Let It Rest
Using a stand mixer usually leads to over-kneading the dough because it works faster than human hands. You have to check the dough every 2 to 3 minutes.
If the dough feels tight and tough, you must set it aside and let it calm down to loosen the gluten structure .
Let the dough rest for double the suggested time in the recipe. For instance, if your recipe recommends you rest the dough for an hour, then let it rise for two hours.
2. Let It Rise In The Fridge
Baking an over-kneaded dough right away will result in a very tight crumb, which is an unwanted result for any of us. That’s why chilling the overworked dough is also an important process.
After putting the dough in a bowl, you must keep it from drying out by covering it with something that can trap humidity.
Plastic wraps and wet towels are the most commonly used covers.
Place the extremely stiff dough in the fridge and let it rest overnight. The cold will soften the stiff gluten, making the dough smoother.
3. Mix In Small Parts of the New Batch
Another way to fix the over-kneaded dough is to mix in small parts of the new dough batch.
The gluten network forms when you mix flour and water (or other liquid). Introducing a new batch of dough also comes with relaxed gluten that is not yet stiff, letting you shape the over-kneaded dough better.
“Bread takes the effort of kneading but also requires sitting quietly while the dough rises with a power all its own.”-David Richo, Author
However, this process can be difficult as it needs you to properly and accurately measure the ingredients. Adding too much water or flour can lead to more inconsistency in the final product than intended.
4. Warm It Up
The overworked or over-kneaded dough contains too much gluten that blocks the yeast from releasing carbon dioxide and pushing the dough upward.
You can activate the yeast in a bowl of warm water at 100°F. Ensure the water is warm to the touch; you don’t have to use a thermometer.
Water at a higher temperature will eventually kill the yeast .
Leave the yeast for 5 to 15 minutes or until the water becomes foamy. Active yeast will start to convert sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
5. Bake It Anyway
Of course, you can still bake the over-kneaded dough. If you already follow all the recommended ways to fix the dough, but it remains stiff, you can proceed to bake it.
You will notice that the bread will not rise as much as it should while baking. It contains too much gluten that traps the yeast to release gas and prevents the dough from pushing upward.
The resulting bread is dense, dry, and crumbly. But don’t throw it away.
You can still use it as croutons for a crunchy texture in soups or as breadcrumbs to act as a coating agent for deep frying certain foods.
Can the over-kneaded dough be cooked?
Yes, you can still cook an over-kneaded dough. However, you will end up with a dry interior and hard crust. The taste may not have much difference, but it is an unwanted mouth feel for the bread.
What happens if bread dough is over-kneaded?
If the bread dough is over-kneaded, it will not rise in the oven because the stiff gluten prevents the gasses from inflating it.
Can the overworked dough be fixed?
No, you can not fix a seriously overworked dough anymore. The result of a seriously overworked dough is a hard-rock loaf, which we can doubtfully eat.
Can you knead the dough again after it rises?
Yes, you can knead the dough after its first rise. This process is called pressing down or punching as it bursts the air bubbles in the dough, resulting in a smoother texture of the baked goods.
How long is too long to knead dough?
30 minutes is too long to knead the dough. Around 10 to 20 minutes will be enough when kneading by hand, while it will take at least 8 minutes when using stand-mixers.
In A Nutshell
The over-kneading of dough usually happens if you’re using stand mixers. Let it rest, and loosen the stiff gluten in the fridge to fix the over-kneaded dough.
You can still bake the dough, but it will yield a different result than what you expect.
The best way to prevent over-kneading the dough is to knead it by hand. You will be able to feel the dough if it starts to get firm or if it demands more flour.
Furthermore, your hands will also get tired before you over-knead the dough.
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