A technique used to mix and work a dough in order to form it into a cohesive, pliable mass. During kneading, the network of gluten strands stretches and expands, thereby enabling a dough to hold in the gas bubbles formed by a leavener (which allows it to rise). Kneading is accomplished either manually or by machine usually a large mixer equipped with a dough hook (some machines have two dough hooks) or a food processor with a plastic blade. By hand, kneading is done with a pressing-folding-turning action performed by pressing down into the dough with the heels of both hands, then pushing away from the body. The dough is folded in half and given a quarter turn, and the process is repeated. Depending on the dough, the manual kneading time can range anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes (or more). Well-kneaded dough is smooth and elastic.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.