What’s the Aversion to Kneading?

Posted: Thu, Dec 27
Filed under: musings, , , , , , , .
Written by: Dave

bread image (pd. corbis)Well, I tried the modified “no-knead” bread recipe in the most recent Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required), and I guess it was ok. It’s not completely no-knead, but it’s pretty close. It calls for just 15 seconds of kneading the dough in on itself, just to distribute the long protein chains, or some such. The kneading is required because, unlike the infamous no-knead recipe that Mark Bittman wrote about in the New York Times last summer, this one calls for much less liquid, so the dough isn’t a sticky, gloopy mess, but since there isn’t as much liquid, the proteins can’t form quite the way they do in the original recipe, hence the 15 second knead.

But what I don’t get is why everyone is so averse to kneading dough? I mean, it seems to run right in the face of the whole “slow food” ethos, doesn’t it? Making bread is all about the kneading. It’s all about getting in there, with the yeasty smells, and giving it a little elbow grease. Granted, the no-knead recipe isn’t fast — it takes upwards of 16 hours to make, but I sort of think this follows the letter of the law of “slow food,” while not really obeying the spirit of it. I mean, no-knead bread dough is like playing baseball without a bat. It’s like dancing without moving your feet. It’s like swimming without the water, for pete’s sake. Sure, kneading dough is a little messy. Sure, you need a little clean counter space, and Lord knows how tricky that is to manage…

Next, they’ll be pushing the next food craze: food that doesn’t require chewing.

I mean, I guess the idea is appealing. Heck, I did try the recipe, after all. But I’m thinking that if you’re the type of person who will only make bread that you don’t have to knead, it’s probably better than nothing. Still, just go out and buy a loaf at Whole Foods instead.

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