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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.

How to knead

  1. Kneading should occur on a clean and stable surface.
  2. Shape the dough (or clay ball) roughly into a ball and place it in the middle of your surface.
  3. Push down firmly in the middle with the palm of your right hand.
  4. Take one of the sides of the ball, fold it over and push down firmly.
  5. Repeat.

Bread dough is usually considered well-kneaded if the dough passes the windowpane test. A small piece of dough is taken into well-floured fingers and gently worked out and flattened as thin as possible. When held up to light, you should have a transluscent piece of dough in your hands--a sign that the gluten has been well-developed in the dough. If the dough falls apart and tears while trying to flatten it out, knead some more.

Clay kneading is complete when the clay no longer yields any noticable bubbles while kneading.