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Sometimes, There Is No Substitute For Kneading.

February 29th, 2012

Way back in November, I picked up a bag of buckwheat flour at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. I’ve been experimenting with using it in bread, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I produced a loaf I was truly happy with. And guess what? I started out using a no-knead approach, but then I kneaded the heck out of it.

Buckwheat, Red Fife & Honey Bread

Buckwheat, Red Fife & Honey Bread

This was in part due to an error I made when mixing the dough the first time. I decided to pre-soak the buckwheat flour for a bit (something I don’t usually do), and then forgot to reduce the amount of water I mixed into the rest of the ingredients by the amount of water I used for the soak. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late – but I thought I’d let it ferment for the full first rise as it was. Before the second rise, I kneaded almost a cup of flour back into the dough, bit by bit, before I found the texture I wanted. And the result was what I had been looking for all along – a firm dough that did not collapse when dumped into the pot to bake, with a perfect crust, a nicely domed top and a slightly chewy, yet tender texture inside.

Buckwheat, Red Fife & Honey Bread - view of the crumb

I’m not giving up no-knead breads, but for some flours, they don’t seem to work very well. Kneading has its place – especially when it comes to heavier, whole grain flours. It’s incredibly simple, even enjoyable to do, and a great way to become familiar with the state a dough should be in to create a good loaf of bread. So I say, knead away!

Buckwheat, Red Fife & Honey Bread

Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Triple

I swapped out 1/4 cup of water for a Scottish ale-styled beer from Quebec. It's not too heavy on the hops, so doesn't impart a bitter flavour to the finished loaf.

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