Why Do We Knead Bread? Mechanism of No-Knead Bread


So you may be wondering, “Why can I make bread without kneading?”
But wait a minute. Do you know why you need to knead bread dough?


No Need to Knead for Gluten

Flour contains a lot of protein. Among those proteins, glutenin and gliadin are the most abundant. Gluten, which is essential for making the framework of bread, is formed when these proteins, glutenin and gliadin, combine with water.

Yes, gluten can be made without kneading.

For example, when you put a sieve or a container used for flour in water, have you ever noticed lumps or sticky clumps of flour? That’s because gluten is formed when water, glutenin, and gliadin are combined.

In other words, the purpose of kneading bread dough is not to make gluten.

Kneading the Dough Saves Time

You don’t need to knead to make gluten, so why do you knead? It’s to bake the bread faster. Specifically, to make gluten in shorter time, and to connect gluten to each other in shorter time.

Making Gluten in Shorter Time

However, with this method, you have to wait for the water molecules to move around, meet the flour, and form gluten.

On the other hand, if you mix flour and water thoroughly, the water and flour can meet evenly in a short time. In other words, it takes shorter time for the gluten to form.

Connecting the Gluten in a Shorter Time

When glutenin and gliadin meet with water, gluten is formed. At this stage, the gluten grains are just connected like a string.

When you knead a dough that contains gluten, the gluten strings are folded or connected when they meet each other.
As you knead the dough, the strings of gluten become flat meshes, and the flat meshes become three-dimensional meshes.

If you wait, this three-dimensional mesh will eventually form. However, kneading the dough will save you time.

Kneading the Dough Speeds Up Fermentation

Fermentation is an essential part of bread making. The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast is stored between the meshes of the gluten, causing the dough to expand. This is what gives bread its fluffy texture.

Kneaded Dough is Ready

When you knead the bread dough, a three-dimensional mesh of gluten is firmly formed. It can start fermenting at any time. So, add 2-3 grams of dry yeast per 100 grams of flour and let it produce a lot of carbon dioxide in about 1-2 hours. By kneading, you can form a good gluten and ferment it all at once.

No-knead Dough Requires Preparation

On the other hand, if the dough is not kneaded, you have to wait for the gluten to form a three-dimensional mesh. It takes about half a day at room temperature.

What happens if you add the same amount of yeast that you use to knead the bread dough? Even if the yeast produces a lot of carbon dioxide from the start, there is no net to catch it. Not only that, but if you let the yeast work for a long time, the dough will become acidic, which will make the bread dough more sour, and it will also be harder for gluten to form.

Therefore, use a moderate amount of yeast and ferment slowly. Slowly build up a network of gluten over time, and use a small amount of yeast to slowly release the carbon dioxide. Roughly 1g of dry yeast to 300g of flour.

Mechanism of Knead and No-knead Bread

When bread dough is kneaded, a gluten mesh structure is quickly formed. This makes it possible to ferment and expand the dough in a short time.

In contrast, in the case of no-knead bread, since the dough is not kneaded, it takes time for the gluten mesh structure to form. Therefore, the fermentation process must be slow.

We take it for granted that bread is made by kneading. If we think about why we knead, then we can understand the principle of no-knead bread.

Easy and Delicious No-Knead Bread

Piece of Oishi’s recipes are all overnight, meaning that the dough is mixed and left to rise for a long time. You don’t even have to mix the dough in the middle of the process. It’s great to be able to make the dough while you sleep and have fresh bread in the morning. I hope you will give no-knead bread a try.
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