If you’re searching for the best bread maker available online for kneading dough, you’ve come to the right place. But before we get into our recommendations, let’s learn a little about the process and what you should look for when choosing a bread maker. If you prefer, jump straight to our top picks.
Kneading bread dough has a long history dating back to thousands of years. The oldest practice involves kneading by hand, which hard as it may be, is the easiest to control. The practice involves a lot of repeated folding, pressing and stretching and can take a serious toll on the fists and wrists alike.
If you want to take the exhaustion out of manual kneading, then you can consider getting a machine that does the kneading for you.
Now there are a few different ways to go about this. For instance, you could get a bread machine to knead your bread dough for you, or you could go with a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Some people even use their food processors to get the job done.
Either type of mechanical kneading will deliver faster results than hand kneading and of course, take much of the work out of the process as well. However, even though kneading practices with the aid of technology may have evolved over time, the science behind kneading dough remains pretty much the same.
So before we explore your bread dough kneading options, here is a look at what you are actually trying to achieve by kneading the dough the right way.
The Science behind Kneading Dough (without getting too scientific)
Wheat flour consists of two proteins, namely glutenin and gliadin. Together the two combine to form gluten, a group of proteins found in grains that help foods maintain their shape. Mixing the dough by kneading mangles and knots these two proteins and strengthens gluten.
Now gluten is important as gluten strands are the stringy bands of protein which give bread its structure and texture. And as more kneading happens, these strands get tightened up and get into line.
Since it’s all about the gluten, what you are looking for should include the following:
- A smooth dough that holds its shape well – does not sag between fingers when lifted.
- It passes the poke test, meaning when you poke the dough ball with your finger, the indentation should fill back quickly. If it continues resembling a dimple, you need to knead some more.
- It should also pass something called the windowpane test. This is one of the most effective ways to tell if dough has been kneaded sufficiently. Start off by pulling a golf ball-sized piece of dough and stretch it into a thin sheet between your fingers. If the dough stretches into a thin translucent membrane without breaking then the gluten is well developed and the kneading is done. But should the dough break before a full extension, then the gluten is not quite ready yet.
So yes, there is indeed a method behind the madness, and choosing the right machine can help you achieve all of this without a hitch.
How do mechanics fit into this?
Mechanical kneading offers the obvious benefit of faster results. But each type of machine presents a different set of concerns such as the following:
Food processor kneading:
While this method delivers very fast results, there are a few things you need to be wary of. For instance, the speed of the processor heats up the dough as it kneads. Reaching a higher than optimal temperature presents the risk of killing the yeast. So if the dough needs longer kneading, it is best to do so in short bouts with waiting time in between.
Another concern with food processor kneading is that the action is so fierce, it may actually cut gluten strands as the dough rotates. The speed also presents the possibility of over kneading dough, if not monitored carefully.
Slower than food processor kneading but still much quicker than hand kneading, the stand mixer eliminates the need for manual work. There is also less of a chance of the dough hook cutting gluten strands and the dough does not heat up as much as it might in a food processor.
The stand mixer also does not present a very great risk of over kneading unless you leave it running for too long. Since the speed is also not as fast as that of a food processor, it is easier to monitor the dough and stop the mixer when needed.
On the flip side, kneading dough with a stand mixer does present the occasional problem of the dough climbing up the hook and wrapping itself around it. When this occurs, not much else happens except that the dough goes for a ride around the bowl without being kneaded. Not to mention all the scraping that follows.
Having said that, it sounds like the stand mixer may have some definite advantages over food processor kneading. However, we would like you to consider a third option for kneading bread dough before you decide which delivers the best results.
Bread machine kneading:
Bread machines are designed to work with an exact amount of each ingredient added in a specific order and then the machine does all the work for you.
Most machines come with a “dough only” setting which pretty much does everything required in the kneading department. Among bread machines, dual paddle machines are considered better for kneading purposes as the two paddles push the dough back and forth with some machines even reversing direction.
Where paddles are collapsible, it adds to performance since there won’t be any big holes in the finished loaf.
These kitchen appliances are a great way for first time bread makers to get started. They are ideal for bread bakers who love to bake a fresh loaf (or two) of bread every day and work just as well for seasoned bakers when they are short on time to bake bread the standard way.
Plus, you can use a bread machine to simply knead the dough and then bake it in a conventional oven, or you can simply pop everything into the machine and let it do all the work including, mixing, kneading, rising and baking.
Here we will proceed to take a closer look at what 5 of the best bread dough kneading machines can do in terms of performance and results:
1 – Zojirushi Virtuoso Bread Maker (Top Pick )
A bit on the high end, this Zojirushi model is for anyone who is serious about baking bread. This horizontal bread maker can do anything you need in the world of bread making and some more. It works for traditional loaves as well as for gluten free baking options.
The model also features custom settings so you can bake bread just the way you want it. The unit features a viewing window to see the current state of your bread and comes with a digital display to monitor progress.
For superior kneading function, this Zojirushi model comes with two kneading paddles. This ensures that the dough gets kneaded well without any lumps or bits of flour left unmixed.
This is a high end machine with a price tag to match, so we would not recommend it for occasional bakers or those who have just ventured into the realm of baking bread. But if you’re willing to splurge on a quality product that promises to last for a long time, who are we to stop you?
- Superior kneading action
- Perfect results every time
- Standout machine among competitors
- Range of pre-programmed settings
- Customizable features
- Recognized brand name for quality and durability
- Other than the price tag, hard to say
Check the price of the Zojirushi Virtuoso on Amazon by clicking on the image above.
2 – Oster 2 Pound Expressbake Bread Machine (Budget Pick )
The machine comes with 12 different settings, allowing you to make a variety of breads, knead your dough and even make jam. For you kneading needs, this model comes with a single kneading blade which is suitable for occasional to frequent bread making.
Despite the single kneading blade, this Oster model is able to handle not only plain loaves but specialty breads as well. This model also comes with a large LCD display that lets you monitor every stage of the bread making process.
The machine is called Expressbake for a reason as its Expressbake feature can produce a finished loaf in just under an hour.
It is an extremely well-built machine for this price and runs quietly without rattling around the kitchen counter. The unit comes with additional accessories including a measuring cup and spoon along with an instruction manual and recipe book.
We would easily award this the best affordable bread machine on the market.
- Features 12 settings giving versatile results and custom loaves
- LCD screen
- Good performance in this price range
- Offers durability
- Expressbake feature
- Affordable price tag
- May not be as consistent as rival brands
- Not as stylish as other bread machine models
Check the price of the Oster 2 Pound Expressbake on Amazon by clicking on the image above.
3 – Panasonic Compact Automatic Bread Maker
This bread machine comes with settings for three different loaf sizes including white, whole wheat, multigrain and French bread. The model features 6 dough and baking options. The dough setting is also compatible with each bread type and a beep lets you know when it is time to add the mix-ins.
The machine also comes with a no-bake feature for kneading purposes only. Once your dough is ready, you can then bake your bread in the oven instead. The inner bake pan features non-stick coating and a built-in handle for easy removal and mess-free clean up.
This Panasonic model features a yeast dispenser so yeast gets added at exactly the right time. There is also a rapid bake feature for quick results.
Despite all its different features, this is a user friendly machine that can work well in all types of kitchens and for all skill levels.
- Yields different sized loaves
- No-bake feature for kneading only
- Rapid bake setting for quick results
- Comes with yeast dispenser
- Collapsible kneading blades
- No dispenser for mix-ins
- No viewing window
- Tad bit expensive
Check the price of the Panasonic Compact Automatic on Amazon by clicking on the image above.
4 – Breadman 2 lb Professional Bread Maker
This Breadman model feature 14 baking functions establishing its versatility in the performance department. Everything from white to whole wheat to sweet bread and quick bread is included. Plus, this machine also caters to gluten free, low carb, artisan dough and bake only options.
For kneading dough, this models features collapsible kneading paddles making it easy to remove the dough from the pan when done.
There is a digital display to let you know the exact progress your dough is making along with a viewing window so you can actually see the results. If you want, you can also use the bake only button for recipes that do not need exhaustive kneading. The machine is easy to use with its push button controls.
This model comes with a collapsible measuring cup, an adjustable measuring spoon and a recipe book.
Without a doubt, one of the most versatile machines on this list, the Breadman Bread Maker is an ideal component for innovative kitchens.
- Features 14 baking functions
- Viewing window lets you monitor progress
- Stylish stainless steel design
- Collapsible kneading paddles
- Fruit and nut dispenser included
- Measuring spoon and cup included
- Not an expensive item
- Some concerns about paddle breaking
- Complaints about noise when running
Check the price of the Breadman 2 lb Professional on Amazon by clicking on the image above.
5 – T-Fal ActiBread Bread Maker
This product specializes in gluten free recipes with its 3 different settings for gluten free breads. Along with that, it also offers rapid options for whole wheat, sweet bread and super rapid. There is also a separate setting for dough only and another for pasta dough. In all, this handy bread maker offers 15 pre-programmed settings.
There is a digital display on the unit with an indicator light. The black accents and stainless steel finish adds to the aesthetics of this T-Fal model making it look good in any kitchen. The unit also includes a measuring spoon and cup, hook, kneading blade and recipe book.
If you are looking for versatility and convenience, then we would recommend trying out this T-Fal model. Let’s call this one the most gluten friendly option on the list.
- Aesthetically appealing product
- 15 programmable functions
- Comes with user friendly controls
- Digital display
- 1 year limited warranty
- Bread may come out with a thicker crust than expected
Check the price of the T-Fal ActiBread on Amazon by clicking on the image above.
So is a bread maker the way to go?
Well, for anyone who is looking for easy assembly, quick clean up and less hands-on time, we would definitely say yes. If you simply want to use the machine to “knead only” then go ahead and do so with one of our recommended options above and then bake your bread the conventional way. You won’t be disappointed.
But if you are short on time and still want to have your bread every day, then put the machine to good use and let it do all the hard work for you. Once again, you will be happy with the results.
So if you want homemade bread that you can count on every time, we recommend using a bread machine to mix and knead the dough.
Do you have experience using a bread machine? Let us know below.