The art of bread making has been cherished for centuries, captivating our senses with its warm, comforting aroma and mouthwatering flavors.
Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just beginning to explore the world of homemade bread, you may have wondered if a stand mixer is an essential tool in the quest for the perfect loaf.
But fear not, aspiring bakers, for we are here to answer the burning question: Can you make bread without a stand mixer? You don’t necessarily need a stand mixer to make bread. Other tools, such as a bread machine, can effectively knead dough.
Designed for this purpose, a bread machine can be used solely for kneading and allowing the dough to rise, even if you choose not to bake the bread in it.
It’s been a while since I sold my stand mixer. While I bought it with the intention of making cooking and baking more convenient, it ended up hardly being used.
However, I feared that getting rid of it would end my bread-baking days, or at least severely restrict them. I wondered if attempting to make bread without kneading it with a stand mixer was even feasible.
With or without a stand mixer, you can make many different kinds of bread. The kneading time will be reduced by several minutes when you use a stand mixer.
In my opinion, hand-made bread is the best. The taste of freshly baked bread comes from knowing that sweat and tears were put into kneading the dough with elbows deep in flour.
The time needed to knead bread by hand (about 10-12 minutes or less) is relatively short for nearly every common variety of bread. There are some loaves of bread that do not require any kneading.
Many recipes do require a stand mixer, even though you can make bread by hand. It is still possible to hand-make those loaves with some simple alterations and method changes.
You might even say making bread by hand is easier than making it with a machine. Those who are purists may even argue that doing it by hand is better.
Ways To Make Bread Dough Without Using A Stand Mixer
Typically, where there is determination, there is a solution. Over the years, I’ve received feedback from numerous readers who, with determination and effort, have handcrafted our acclaimed Best-of Bagels without the aid of specialized equipment.
Even without a stand mixer, there are other tools you can use to knead bread dough. One option is a bread machine, which is specifically designed for this purpose.
If you don’t plan to bake the bread in the machine, you can still use it to knead the dough and let it rise on the dough setting.
Before you try it, PJ Hamel at King Arthur Baking suggests a few things.
It’s helpful to know the machine’s weight capacity, usually between 1 to 2 pounds, but it’s more important to figure out the “flour capacity.”
You can find this information in the recipe booklet that often comes with the machine, although it might be harder to do if you have a secondhand machine.
According to Hamel, here are some rough guidelines: for a 1-pound machine, use 2 to 2 3/4 cups of flour; for a 1 1/2-pound machine, use 3 to 4 cups of flour; for a 2-pound machine, use 4 to 5 1/2 cups of flour. These numbers can help you determine which recipes will and won’t work.
You don’t have to spend a lot on a bread machine either; you can often find them at thrift stores for a reasonable price.
A food processor can also be useful for kneading some doughs, and you might already have one. According to Janjigian, a notable limitation is its size.
Even in an 11-cup model, the bowl can easily get overloaded, especially with recipes intended for larger loaves or batches.
You could try kneading half of those recipes separately or focus on using the food processor where it’s most practical.
This is particularly applicable to recipes that might be too small for a stand mixer, as the attachment may struggle to mix the ingredients efficiently.
Janjigian’s go-to tool for pizza dough is the food processor. He suggests using ice water in the recipe to counter the processor’s quick heating.
This keeps the dough cool even after processing, preventing it from rising too fast. If you’re using the food processor for room temperature dough, adjust the water temperature accordingly.
Most doughs prefer a final temperature around the mid-70s Fahrenheit.
Janjigian also mentions that food processor-made dough usually takes only about 2 minutes, compared to 10 minutes in a stand mixer.
Just remember to use the metal blade and add liquid ingredients gradually while the machine is running.
When it comes to tools, Janjigian advises against using a hand mixer for bread dough.
While it’s great for cake batters and meringues, it lacks the power needed to knead bread dough properly. He warns that it’s likely to get stuck and could even damage the motor.
Hand Kneading Options For Making Bread
The gluten proteins can definitely be developed by hand kneading. Just a few thousand years ago, bread was made without stand mixers.
Muscle or method are the two options for making bread without a stand mixer.
Muscles are the first route to take. It is possible to make most breads by hand. With a machine, you will have to knead the dough a little longer than you can. Some of us may find this a bit laborious.
It’s important not to overlook recipes that require a longer kneading, even if they require a mixer.
You’ll need more time to knead, so roll up your sleeves and start kneading! Your loaf of bread will turn out amazing, and you’ll gain some muscle for those summer tank tops.
I prefer the method route over the other options. In some cases, no kneading is required for some bread doughs. Hand kneading might be the best method for several types of bread.
Choosing a bread with a little or no kneading method is a good option if you don’t want a workout and don’t want a specific long knead bread. You won’t be disappointed with the end result!
The Reason for a Stand Mixer
If it can be done by hand, why do so many recipes call for a mixer? One reason is that it’s easier. Most of the work is done by the machine. With this method, you can make larger amounts of dough at once and multitask at the same time.
It’s also quicker. Hand-kneading can take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes depending on the recipe. It would take a stand mixer about 10 minutes to do that job.
It can be very difficult to work by hand with some dough varieties because they are quite sticky.
Additionally, it might help to consider what the stand mixer actually does to the dough. By mixing the dough with a stand mixer, the mixer does the job of kneading.
In bread dough, kneading stretches, straightens, and organizes gluten proteins. This process also enhances the structure of bread.
In addition, it makes the loaf light and fluffy by incorporating air into the dough. Does this process only apply to stand mixers? Definitely not! Stand mixers have hook attachments that mimic the hand-kneading process.
Breads You Can Make by Hand
Sandwich bread: Nothing beats classic white or wheat bread for sandwiches, French toast, or picky toddlers. Hand-kneading can be easily adapted to many recipes, or instructions are already included.
Focaccia: A sheet pan is typically used for baking focaccia, which is flavored with herbs and garlic. You can use it as a snack, a side dish, or as a sandwich bread.
It’s not always necessary to use a mixer for some recipes. It is possible to make focaccia with almost any artisan dough.
Put it on a sheet pan, nudge it into a rectangular, dimpled focaccia shape with oiled fingertips, spread oil over top, and bake for 10 – 15 minutes at the hottest setting in your oven.
Ciabatta: A broad, flat, Italian-style white bread that is perfect for sandwiches. While the process of making this bread is similar to the process of making artisan bread, you will have a stickier, wetter dough.
Artisan: Imagine a round loaf with a crusty exterior and a fluffy interior.
Bread like this is ideal for serving with rustic dinners, or for giving as a gift. Depending on the variety, the dough can either be gently folded (instead of vigorously kneaded) or not kneaded at all.
But What About Sticky Dough?
Making dough without a mixer is definitely the most frustrating part – sticky dough clings to my hands and counter. Managing sticky dough isn’t easy, so what can you do?
Rest it for a while. Before kneading the dough, let it rest for 20-30 minutes after mixing your ingredients. During this time, the flour absorbs as much water as possible, reducing the dough’s stickiness.
You need to add flour. Adding too much flour to the recipe can throw off the proportions, resulting in a tough loaf of bread. However, you can make sticky dough more manageable by flouring your counter and your hands as needed.
Don’t forget to oil your workstation. It is also a good idea to lightly oil your counter surface, as well as your hands, if you want to avoid sticking.
Get your hands wet. Wetting your hands before flouring or oiling your work area is also possible. Additionally, you can use this to keep your hands from sticking to the dough.
Make sure you have a couple of simple tools at hand. If you are trying to get tacky dough out of a bowl or off a counter, a plastic dough scraper and/or metal bench scraper can be useful.
Be a pro at kneading. To work with high-hydration (i.e., wet) dough, professional bakers use several techniques, such as the slap-and-fold or the fold.
You can watch a YouTube video of Richard Bertinet demonstrating how to work with sticky dough if you’re interested.
Bread You Can’t Make by Hand?
Based on my research, I don’t think there are any breads that can’t be made without a stand mixer. It may take a little searching to find the recipe that’s right for you, but almost any type of bread can be made by hand.
We often cheat a little bit by using a stand mixer or hand mixer with a dough hook attachment to make bread, since kneading is the hardest part. With all this new technology, people are forgetting how to make bread.
Probably the most time-consuming part of baking by hand is kneading the dough. It’s not as difficult as people make it out to be, but it does require some time, patience, and a lot of arm strength.
To make sure you don’t over knead your dough, you need to know when enough gluten has formed. The good news is that you do not need a mixer to make bread if you are spending more time at home at the moment and want to make bread.