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Can you over-knead dough?

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Question

Using your stoneground wholemeal flour, I was kneading using a Kenwood
Chef and dough hook. It was going fine and the dough was balling nicely
and getting some nice springy structure, so I thought I'd give it
another 5 minutes. All of a sudden the dough seemed to lose structure
and revert to a wet sticky state. Can you over-knead dough or did
something else go wrong?

Answer

Yes you are on the right track. A dough can be over developed especially stone ground wholemeal, as the bran particles will cut the protein strands through the development program. Wholemeal flour needs to have a good structure to carry the weight of the bran and this can be better achieved by mixing until the dough has cleared the bowl. Then resting for five mins, then develop for another min or so until it clears the bowl again. Or the other way would be to turn the dough out rest for 10 or 15 mins and then fold by stretching the bottom half over one third of the mass, then fold the top half over the bottom half. This will strengthen the strands rather than snap them.

The stickiness will come from the fact that the strands have snapped and they will start to release the water. You can get them back to some degree, but the crumb structure will always be week and crumbly after this has happened.

Hope this helps.

Happy Baking

Follow up

Many thanks for the reply.  It certainly explains the problem very well.  I will put your advice into action when I make the next batch.  This was the first time I have bought your flour and I have been very impressed.  The taste is superb and has received praise from all who have tasted it.  I look forward to placing my next order.

Added by: clivemellum

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