What Happens if You Over Knead Dough? (And What to Do About It)

11 Min Read
5/5 - (1 vote)

Putting together a dough might be a really difficult task. If the dough is excessively soft, the bread won’t be able to maintain its form. It also must be too firm, or else you will be faced with a number of other bread-related problems. What, precisely, takes place when bread dough is kneaded an excessive amount of times?

Let’s find out!

Why Knead Bread Dough?

Before we look at what occurs if you knead bread dough for too long, let’s first examine the need of kneading dough in general. Kneading helps to ensure that gluten is distributed evenly throughout the dough. There are really two primary factors that contribute to the significance of kneading a dough before using it.

The first objective is to infuse the dough with additional strength, and the second objective is to impart structure to the end-result baked good.

Gliadin and glutenin are the two proteins that are used in the production of flour. Gluten is created when the two grains are mixed together. When a dough is initially mixed, the proteins in the dough become disorganized and spread out in all directions throughout the dough.

When the dough is kneaded, the proteins begin to align themselves in a more ordered fashion, which leads to the formation of long chain amino acids, which are responsible for the dough’s strength. The dough will become much more resilient the more you knead it!

When you knead the dough, you bring about an even distribution of ingredients throughout the dough. You will notice that it becomes both smoother and more difficult to work with as your needs change.

When the dough is baked after being kneaded, the magnificent network of proteins that you made by kneading the dough will assist the dough rise by capturing the gas that is released by the yeast that is already present in the dough.

Because of all of the kneading, dough that has been worked properly will maintain its form while it is being cooked.

Even though we’ve been concentrating on bread dough up to this point, it’s important to be familiar with the ways in which pizza dough is comparable to and distinct from bread dough.

Best Way to Knead Dough

There are a number different approaches to kneading bread dough, but using your hands is the one that has stood the test of time the best. You will have the best control over the dough if you do the kneading process by hand.

Along with its texture, the dough will have a certain stiffness to it that can be felt by the user. You may also simply alter the dough by, for example, adding additional flour if the dough is sticky (for more information about this topic, go here).

To knead dough by hand, one must first press down and forward on the dough, then fold the dough over on itself, and then repeat the process. When the dough is done when it is touchable, smooth, and soft all at the same time, you know it’s ready!

Utilizing a bread machine is yet another quick and simple option for kneading the dough. Because the majority of bread machines are designed to automatically combine the ingredients and knead the dough for you, using one is a nearly foolproof technique of kneading dough.

Bread machines, on the other hand, can only produce a restricted variety of bread, which means that not all types of dough may be baked in these time-saving kitchen tools.

The majority of individuals choose to knead dough with the assistance of a stand mixer. The majority of mixers, like this Cuisinart mixer, come with a dough hook that is intended to knead dough and replicate the process of kneading dough by hand. Using a stand mixer to knead dough may make it extremely simple to overwork the dough due to the high level of power that stand mixers possess.

If you are using a recipe that calls for the use of a stand mixer, be sure to carefully read the instructions and make note of how long you are supposed to mix the dough for and what speed you are supposed to use.

In essence, you will be aiming for the dough to neatly pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. After this, you will continue to mix the dough for around 4-5 minutes longer, depending on the kind of dough you are using.  

Signs of Over Kneading

When you overwork a dough, the texture will become quite thick and rigid, which is the first thing you will notice about the situation. When you try to push the dough down and flatten it on the counter, you could have some trouble. In addition to that, it will be challenging to knead by hand and will be resistant to being reshaped. When you tug on the dough, it will probably tear easily rather than stretch.

All of these signs suggest that the dough has generated an excessive amount of gluten, which is the cause of the dough being extremely stiff. When the gluten has been overdeveloped as a result of excessive kneading, the dough will be very firm and virtually completely devoid of give.

If your dough looks like this, then you have probably kneaded it for too long.

Baking Over Kneaded Dough

If you believe that your dough has been kneaded too much but you still decide to bake it, you may find that the final product is a little bit different from what you had anticipated. To begin, the outside of the bread will have a very tough and solid texture. It’s possible that the outside will feel more like a hard rock than a beautiful, fluffy loaf of bread!

Next, you will probably see that the bread did not rise very much while it was baking, resulting in a compact and dense loaf of bread. This is due to the fact that the dough included an excessive amount of gluten, which, when baked into the bread, formed a solid barrier that entirely encased the gasses that were produced by the yeast and prevented them from pushing the dough upward.

If you cut into a dough that has been kneaded for an excessive amount of time, you will see that the center is quite dry and crumbly. The slices are not likely to maintain their form and will probably fall apart instead.

Even if the bread could have the same flavor overall, it won’t have a pleasant texture in your tongue since it will, once again, be dry, thick, and crumbly; we’ll pass on that.

What to Do When You Over Knead Dough

In the event that you have determined that you have, in fact, overworked your dough, there are a few things that you can do in order to assist in repairing the dough. To begin, you should allow the dough to sit and rest (see why it is so necessary to rest) for about twice as long as the amount of time specified in the recipe.

If the recipe calls for the dough to rest and rise for an hour, you should give it a total of two hours to do so. If you have the opportunity, put the dough in a bowl, cover it, and let it to rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Because the dough will get cooler, the yeast will begin to function more slowly, and it will take the whole night for the dough to become inflated. This will allow the gluten to loosen up and become a little bit more pliable. It will also let the yeast to do its enchantment, which will result in a tiny elevation of the dough.

After the dough has risen, immediately form it into a shape, and make an effort to avoid working with it too much. You should try to handle the dough as little as possible so as to minimize the risk of developing additional tough strands of gluten. After the dough has finished its second rise, which you should again let it to complete for somewhat longer than usual, bake it.

Do not toss out the bread just because it comes out of the oven still having a firm texture as a result of over-kneading. This loaf is ideal for making croutons or even breadcrumbs, and it may be used in any of those ways!

Even the crustiest of loaves may be put to good use (for other suggestions, check out the article I wrote on different ways to use bread scraps)!

How to Prevent Over Kneading

Choosing to knead the dough by hand rather than using a machine is one of the most effective strategies to avoid overworking the dough. When you knead dough with your hands instead of a machine, you can feel the dough at each stage of the process. You will be able to tell if it needs a little bit more flour or whether it is beginning to grow firm.

When you have your hands in the dough, you are more likely to quit kneading the dough before it ever gets to the point where it is difficult to work with because your hands will get fatigued. If your recipe includes instructions about kneading, be sure you read them and do your best to follow them to the letter. This will ensure that the amount of time you spend kneading the dough matches the durations that have been advised and tested.

In addition, keep in mind that creating dough is an art, so treat it as such. The more often you do it, the better you will become at it, and the less likely you will be to overwork the dough as a result! The key to excellent dough is practice.

Make sure you check out my article on bread making tips and techniques for even more helpful hints!


How do you tell if you’ve over kneaded dough?

When dough gets tough to stretch, this indicates that it has been kneaded for an excessive amount of time. When you use a stand mixer or food processor, you could have this issue from time to time. A dough that has been overworked will be tough, and the resulting bread will be harsh and chewy.

How do you fix Overworked dough?

If you feel like you’ve worked the dough too much, consider giving it a little bit more time to rise before attempting to shape it. The harm caused by overworking the gluten can’t truly be undone, but allowing the dough to rise for a longer period of time may help it relax a little bit. When dough is kneaded for an excessive amount of time, the resulting loaves often have a crust that is as hard as rock and an interior that is thick and dry.

Is it possible to over knead dough by hand?

For instance, as a result of the enhanced production of gluten that takes place during hand kneading, the finished product will have a more desirable consistency. Because it is almost impossible to overknead dough when working with it by hand, you may avoid having bread that is overly thick by avoiding this problem.

How long should you knead dough for?

For all intents and purposes, kneading dough by hand may take up to 25 minutes and requires well developed forearm muscles. Kneading the dough in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, on the other hand, takes just approximately 8 minutes. Nevertheless, even if you do not have a stand mixer, you are still able to mix dough by hand and produce a quality loaf of bread from the majority of the doughs.

What does Overworked dough look like?

A dough that has been properly kneaded will have elasticity, be flexible, and spring back when it is poked. When using a stand mixer, it is possible to overwork the dough. Because the gluten molecules have been broken, the dough will have a “tight” and difficult texture. This is because when you attempt to pull or roll the dough, it will not stretch but instead shatter when you do so.

How long should bread be kneaded?

Kneading the dough for 10–12 minutes by hand or 8–10 minutes in a mixer is the common norm; if you’ve been massaging the dough for that period of time, you can be reasonably certain that you’ve completed your task.

You might also like