Kneading is the manual manipulation of a object to render it more usable. OK, that was vague. Here are some examples:
- Bread dough is kneaded in order to "work" the gluten in the dough to make the finished bread rise higher and be chewier. Failure to knead adequately may result in a bread that breaks apart like a biscuit instead of having the fine web-like crumb that well-developed gluten will give.
- Clay is usually kneaded to remove air bubbles within the clay that would adversely effect the outcome of the pottery during firing. Failure to knead adequately may result in broken pottery when fired, or worse, an explosion within the kiln when an air bubble expands drastically when heated.
- Shape the dough roughly into a ball and place it in the middle of your surface.
- Pull the side of the ball furthest from you back, folding it over slightly.
- Push the folded ball forward and down with that heel of your hand. Don't press to hard-- you're trying to rock and slightly stretch the dough, not squash it.
- Repeat the last two steps.
Well-kneaded bread dough can be recognised by its smooth, satiny surface and elastic consistancy. Dough made mainly with white wheaten flour will need to be kneaded 250-300 strokes to reach this point. Other doughs may need up to 450 strokes.
- Push the mass of clay very firmly against the work surface.
- Lift the clay and turn it so that a different edge is against the work surface.
Clay is well kneaded when all air bubbles have been removed.