One of the positive things that came out of the pandemic is that seemingly everyone in America learned how to bake bread. From sourdough to focaccia to entire baguettes, kitchens across the country were filled with the aromas of freshly baked bread as more and more people took up this wholesome hobby. However, as wonderful as it is to bake and feast on freshly-baked bread, it can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. This is where a dough hook comes in!
Anyone who joined in on the bread-baking craze knows that it takes a bit of practice to perfect homemade bread. You have to figure out the right texture of the dough- not too sticky, but not too dry. You also have to let it rise the right amount, and then it's important to bake it until golden-brown, but no longer. Homemade bread is worth it, but there are plenty of steps along the way that a novice can mess up.
What Is a Dough Hook For?
Fortunately, a dough hook does one of the hardest parts for you- kneading the dough. Dough hooks are an attachment on stand mixers. The dough hook attachment is curved and appears just like you would imagine based on its name- hook-like. There are also dough hooks for hand mixers, which are spiral dough hooks rather than a simple hook shape.
The dough hook fits into your kitchen mixer and then does all the work for you. This can be a life-saver when it comes to large or heavier doughs, like whole wheat. It works great for pizza dough or any other bread dough, quickly and efficiently kneading the dough that would have taken you far longer with just your hands. Plus it saves your countertop and kitchen from being covered in flour.
The dough hook rapidly creates gluten in the dough, which is what keeps the air bubbles in the dough and gives it the elastic textures any bread-bakers are familiar with. This results in perfectly fluffy, chewy bread, and it saves your arms a strenuous workout.
How to Use a Dough Hook
To use a dough hook, first you'll combine the wet ingredients with half of the flour in the mixing bowl of your mixer. You'll stir the ingredients together using the paddle attachment, scraping the sides of bowl to ensure that everything is mixed in. Once they're combined, switch to the dough hook attachment.
If you have a tilt-head stand mixer, you can tilt the head back and fit the attachment in. If not, simply insert it into the mixer and lock it. Use low speed as you add in the rest of the flour in small amounts. The dough hook will incorporate the flour in seamlessly until you have a smooth, elastic ball of dough. Continue to mix the dough on low speed until it's fully kneaded. Then, unlock the mixer and lift the top to take the dough out. The hardest part of the bread-baking process is complete!
KitchenAid stand mixers can be found on Amazon or kitchenaid.com where they come with all of the classic stand mixer attachments, including a dough hook. You can also buy a dough hook replacement individually if you already have a mixer and aren't sure where the hook is. Enjoy effortless and delicious freshly baked bread!