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Have you ever wondered how to tell if your dough is done kneading? In this blog post, we will spill the beans on a super easy way to check if your dough is kneaded well enough. The stretch test, windowpane test, gluten window test, dough window test, gluten development test, dough stretch test, gluten formation test, gluten elasticity test, gluten strength test, dough transparency test – quite the list, huh? But they’re all just fancy ways of saying: “Is your dough good to go?”. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just starting, this test is helpful to ensure that your baked goods come out of the oven perfectly.

How to test your dough

When it comes to kneading dough, it all starts with incorporating some basic ingredients like flour and water, which essentially form the backbone of your recipe. After that, you add yeast, salt, and perhaps a hint of sugar or honey. Now, as you stand there with your dough, the big question pops up: When do you know if it’s good to go for the next step? Sure, most recipes provide a timeframe like “knead for 5 or 10 minutes,” but it’s not always as straightforward as that.

Depending on whether you’re using a machine or kneading by hand, the time required can vary significantly. Some machines work quickly, while others take their time. Similarly, some people have the strength and experience to hand-knead efficiently, while others might take longer. So, relying solely on a timer isn’t always the best approach. There’s a more effective way to determine if your dough is ready. It’s called the windowpane test, a technique borrowed from the world of bread baking. Here’s how it works: tear off a piece of dough and gently stretch it until it’s thin enough to see light through it. You want it to be super thin without tearing apart. If you achieve that, congratulations! Your dough is good to go. However, if it tears easily, it’s a sign that you need to keep kneading.

When to do it
The windowpane test is best performed on highly hydrated dough, typically containing at least 68% water or more. The reason for this lies in the dough’s higher water content, which allows for greater elasticity and stretchability without risking tearing. This means that dough with higher hydration levels will provide a more accurate indication of gluten development when performing the windowpane test. So, if you’re working with a dough that’s on the wetter side, it’s the perfect opportunity to put this test to the ultimate challenge.

When not to do it
When the dough is quite dry, with a hydration level of 67% or lower, the windowpane test isn’t as reliable. That’s because the dough, even if it’s been kneaded well, is more likely to tear due to its lower water content. This might make you think the dough needs more kneading when it’s actually fine. So, it’s important to keep in mind the dough’s hydration level when you’re using the windowpane test. Dryer dough won’t stretch as much as wetter dough, which could lead to misjudging whether it’s ready or not. Understanding this difference can help you avoid overworking the dough and ensure your baking turns out just right.

Finger poke test

Besides the windowpane test, there’s also the finger poke test, which works well for dough with low hydration.

Here’s how it works:
Simply press your finger gently into the dough. When you lift your finger, observe how the dough reacts. If it slowly springs back and regains its original shape, it’s likely well-kneaded. However, if the indentation remains or the dough struggles to bounce back, it needs more kneading.

This test gives you a fast way to check if your dough is ready, especially if you can’t do the windowpane test. It helps determine if the dough is stretchy enough and ready for fermentation. While it may not provide as much detail about gluten development as the windowpane test, it’s a straightforward method to ensure your dough is on the right track.

By Safia Abali

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