Kneading is a vital step in the bread making process. One of the biggest problem bakers have is they don’t knead the dough long enough. It takes a good 7 – 14 minutes to knead dough with lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface.
As you knead many important things happen: the gluten develops so the bread is able to rise; air bubbles are trapped in the dough and are also necessary for a good rise, and the ingredients are thoroughly dispersed throughout the dough, allowing the yeast to feed, resulting in a more active fermentation. All this enables your loaf to expand to its fullest when rising and baking resulting in a well risen loaf with a good crumb.
Learning to knead properly is essential for good bread making. You will get better and faster with practice, so don’t become disheartened if you don’t succeed at first. You will learn to notice the signs when the dough has been kneaded enough.
I find kneading quite therapeutic! I just switch off, some people take out their frustration on the dough – it doesn’t matter as it is very forgiving at this stage so go for it!!