Start off with a clean work surface, and add a little oil or flour to prevent the dough sticking too much. The dough will always be sticky to start off with, but will become less sticky as you knead the dough.
Using the ball of your hand, push the dough away from you, then pull it back and turn the dough 45degrees. Try and stretch the dough while kneading as this will make it more elastic. Continue to do this until you have soft, smooth, elastic dough. You should be able to stretch the dough without it tearing when it hits the right consistency. It should take around 10 minutes for you to get the right consistency, but it really depends if you have ever kneaded dough before and on how vigorously you knead.
A little tip for you when kneading your dough, if you have had a bad day or something has annoyed you, put all that anger and energy into kneading your dough, this usually works a treat. It takes practice to achieve the perfect bread dough, but with time you will get there. Just have a little patience.
Proving the dough
Now you know how to knead dough, it’s time to prove your dough. You must always remember to prove your dough as this allows the yeast to ferment creating carbon dioxide which puffs up the dough.
After you have kneaded your dough, you should place it in a bowl (I like to lightly oil mine to prevent sticking) and cover with either cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for a couple of hours until it has doubled in size (or for as long as your recipe requires).
Some recipes require you to prove your dough twice, this second prove will give you a much better flavour and texture.
Knocking back the dough.
Knocking back the dough means you knock out most of the gas and air in the dough and redistribute the rest evenly throughout the dough. This also give you a much better finish giving smaller more even air bubbles in your baked loaf.
Before taking your dough out of the bowl, punch it to knock some of the air out then tip your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roughly knead it. Once you have kneaded the dough for a few minutes, shape it in to your desired loaf shape, be it rolls or a loaf and pop it into either a bead tin or onto a baking sheet, and allow to rise/prove for a second time before putting it into a preheated oven to cook.
Baking bread is simple to do, all you have to do is master a few simple techniques and you can create something beautiful. Making your own bread from scratch is so satisfying and tastes so much better than a loaf bought from the supermarket that has loads of preservatives and other rubbish added to it. It’s much fresher and you also know exactly what ingredients have gone into making the bread. You can also get the kids involved and share the sometimes hard work of kneading the dough, a great way to fill up those boring rainy days.
So now you know how to knead dough, what are you waiting for. Get baking some amazing breads.