How to Convert a Handmade Bread Recipe to Be Made With a Mixer?

Kneading bread dough by hand can be a very satisfying and rewarding process. I enjoy kneading dough with my hands and most other home bakers do too. 

The main reason why all my recipes are handmade is because not everyone owns a mixer and I want bread making to be accessible to everyone. Almost all of us have two hands and a bowl or a table, so it is the most accessible method.

But of course, not everyone is in the same situation. People who have illnesses or disabilities may not be able to knead dough with their hands. Also, there are plenty of people who just don’t want to do it and I totally get it. If you paid all that money for a mixer, then why not use it.

My YouTube channel has been built to suit the hand-kneading bunch. Some people who own mixers also enjoy kneading dough by hand every now and then. And some have even converted from using a mixer to exclusively kneading by hand.

I don’t care how you knead your bread dough as long as you make bread, that is the most important thing.

There are disadvantages and advantages to each method.

Hand kneading takes effort and can get messy. It can also take longer, and it may be more difficult to develop the gluten effectively. But it is more rewarding since the bread you made was made just by your hands. You also get to learn and feel how the dough develops over time. Some people just enjoy the kneading process and find it relaxing.

Mixers can be expensive. If you only bake occasionally, it may not be worth keeping such a piece of equipment in your kitchen. A mixer takes away the tactile experience. It may take longer to learn and see how the dough goes through the stages of its development.

But it does make life very easy. Just pop the ingredients in the bowl, flip a switch and come back when it’s ready. And that is the main appeal of the mixer in my opinion. Plus, it can be used for much more than just bread making.

Feeling the dough.

To those who own a mixer, but do not want to knead by hand I will say that it is worth giving it a go. Especially if you are sometimes having trouble with the dough that you are making and can’t get the mixing speeds and timings right.

When you learn to feel the dough as it develops over time as you knead it, you will be able to apply that knowledge to the mixer method too. Just by giving it a squeeze and a pull you will be able to tell a whole lot about how much the dough has developed from a shaggy mass and how long it took, and how much more kneading it requires.

To those who are inexperienced at either method, but just want to get a mixer to start their bread making journey, I would suggest the same. First, learn to make dough by hand and then decide whether a mixer is even necessary. And if you do decide to get one anyway, you will already have to skills to use it effectively. It does not make the dough for you. The outcome is still up to you.

Things to consider.

Alright, back to converting recipes. Mixers come with a variety of bowl sizes, motor strengths and settings. That is why there will never be a one size fits all answer. That goes for anything in breadmaking. It always depends on many variables.

If your mixer has a very large bowl and has only two settings which are slow and fast, then for one you may need to double or triple the ingredients in a recipe for it to even be able to pick the dough up and mix it effectively. You may need to stick to the slow setting to not over mix the dough. I will make a video about over mixing in the future.

On the other hand, if your mixer has a little bowl and many speed settings and a weak motor, then perhaps you would not even be able to double up a recipe and had stick to making small batches. The speed settings may require you to mix on second speed in the beginning and on the top speed to finish.

My KitchenAid Heavy Duty has a 3.5kg (7qt) bowl and 6 speed settings. That bowl is relatively large for a domestic mixer. And as I demonstrated in the video the mixer had trouble picking up the ingredients and pulling them together in a dough ball.

Temperature control.

This will also massively vary from mixer to mixer. Some will heat the dough up more quickly than others. But generally, the faster the speed the quicker the dough will warm up.

I find that my mixer warms the dough up pretty much at the same rate as my hands do. My hands are of course a lot warmer than the dough hook and bowl, but they are also less aggressive than the mixer.

You could test this by kneading a dough by hand for a certain amount of time and then comparing it to a dough that was made in the mixer for the same amount of time. See the temperature difference if there is one.

If you want to convert a recipe (especially my recipe) to be made with a mixer:

Add the ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix them together so that there is no dry flour left. This will ensure that the mixer is kneading the dough from the beginning. Mix the dough on the first (slow) speed for half of the time, then switch to the second (slow-medium) speed to finish the mix following the given kneading time in a hand-knead dough recipe.

If a recipe requires the addition of fat half-way through the mix, then follow the same method. Add the fat in chunks as the mixer is turning. You may need to increase the speed more on the second part of the mix to incorporate the fat effectively. This could also make it take longer, so temperature control must be kept in mind. Perhaps, a recipe containing butter should be made with slightly cooler ingredients.

If you want to add ingredients to the dough such as dried fruit, cheese, or olives, then add those about 30 seconds from the finish.

If you want to double a recipe, then bear in mind that a larger dough will take longer to warm up, so you may want to use slightly warmer ingredients.

Again, all of this will vary from mixer to mixer, but it is a good baseline from which you can work and adjust to fit your own. Hopefully there are enough details in the video and written article for you to be able to convert a recipe successfully.

Finally, let us not forget the people who are not able to knead dough by hand and do not own a mixer. The best I can do for now is suggest checking out the no-knead bread playlist. I will try and add more recipes to that playlist in the future for a greater variety of options.

Watch the video here

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