Knead your way to smooth, perfectly elastic dough without breaking a sweat by letting your stand mixer do the heavy work for you. While hand kneading can be relaxing for some cooks, it is also laborious and repetitive, and it takes two to four minutes longer than using a mixer. As it turns out, though, all bread dough can be kneaded in a mixer. It is particularly well-suited to kneading sticky doughs such as Ciabatta, a wet dough that can be tricky to knead by hand without making a mess.
When it comes to kneading dough, all stand mixers are not created equally. According to Lauren Chattman, author of Bread Making: Crafting the Perfect Loaf, from Crust to Crumb, the motor on lightweight machines quickly burns out when you use them for heavy duty tasks. Attaching a dough hook is essential for kneading the dough, although you may need to mix the ingredients first with a spatula or the regular beaters to make sure everything's incorporated. Consumer Reports suggests a heavy-duty mixer that moves around the bowl as it mixes.
No matter how you knead it, the basic process is the same. Gather and measure or weigh your ingredients, mix them together, knead the dough, then set it aside to rise. Some recipes call for adding warm water to the bowl of the mixer and sprinkling the yeast over it, then letting it sit until it's dissolved. Other recipes, Fleischmann's for example, call for combining flour, salt, sugar and undissolved yeast in a bowl before gradually mixing in a warm mixture of milk, water and butter.
Mix the ingredients together according to the recipe's instructions — scraping the sides of the bowl down occasionally. Continue mixing everything together until a shaggy dough forms — then you're ready to start kneading. This is an essential step for making many kinds of dough, because the gentle, constant working helps develop the proteins that give the bread its structure. Make sure the dough hook of the mixer is attached, and set the mixer to medium-low speed for eight to 10 minutes. If you're making a bread with wet dough, you may need to use a higher speed.