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Many food processors come with a special blade specifically for kneading dough! The timing will be different from using a stand mixer or doing the work by hand, so you'll have to pay attention to how the dough looks and feels. I wouldn't attempt to use a standard chopping blade in a food processor to knead dough, though... all your gluten will be ripped to shreds. Similarly, I wouldn't recommend using a blender: the shape of the bowl will not facilitate even mixing of such a solid material, and I would be surprised if the motor could stand up to the task.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
And indeed the best alternate appliance might just be your bare hands. A friend of mine who bakes professionally uses only those.
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I use to think that kneading by hand involved a lot of arm strength but it really does not. A few years ago, I took a bread baking workshop and the instructors taught me about the folding method of kneading. You simply took the dough and, with the help of a bench scraper, made a series, about 2-3, of envelope folds. The dough then rests for about 30 minutes. Repeat 2 more times. This method is successful because it strengthens the dough by effectively creating multiple stands of gluten and stacking them together. An analogy is that a single strand of spaghetti has very little strength so you can easily snap it in half. But a fistful of spaghetti cannot be easily broken. By creating 'a fistful' of gluten strands, this method of kneading results in a strong dough ,which is the objective of any kneading step.
For more instructions on how to mix using your hands, check out Nancy Silverton's book, Breads from La Brea Bakery. It has many detailed instructions for making beautiful sourdough loaves and she also shows how to mix using a folding/slapping technique that only takes one hand. I just bought a copy on amazon for $7 including shipping. Well worth it!
I agree. You only need a little elbow grease to knead bread, and some breads don't require kneading at all. I use the Tartine method of lifting and folding the dough over a span of about 3 hours. You only have to touch the dough once every 30 minutes, and the method yields a really beautiful bread. Don't sweat it. Do a little research, and find a method that suits you. Whatever you do, don't use the Vitamix!
I find kneading by hand to be rather therapeudic. I own a kitchen aid, but have never used it to knead dough. I'm not sure what you are looking for exactly. The only other appliance i can think of is an actual bread machine. My mother used one for as long as I can remember. Just throw the indredients in and hit a few buttons. it does all the work. Mix, Knead, rise and bake.
@jasonjason: "Many food processors come with a special blade specifically for kneading dough!" Those short, plastic blades are actually AWFUL for kneading dough. They're too short, so stuff collects in the corners of the bowl. The idea behind the plastic is that it won't heat up from friction. What I do is pop the workbowl and steel blade in the freezer for 20 minutes or so before starting. I add all my ingredients to the food processor, then use the SHORTEST POSSIBLE PULSES until it starts to come together in a ball - then I let it run for a count of 10. Turn it out onto a floured counter and knead it by hand six or eight times, and it's usually ready to go.
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