I've just made Nigella's Hot Cross Buns for Easter and I have a query about kneading. I kneaded the dough for approximately 10 minutes and it was smooth, however it was not elastic when I pulled it apart. Should I have kneaded the dough more or have I over kneaded it? Thanks
The elasticity of a bread dough will depend on the amount of kneading and also on the amount of water in the recipe, plus the level of gluten in the flour. Some Italians suggest that the dough is ready when you can stretch a piece of dough thinly enough to form a "window" - the piece is so thin that you can see through it. However many of the traditional Italian dough recipes have quite damp doughs which yield more chewy breads, rather than soft rolls.
If the dough feels smooth then it should have been kneaded sufficiently. Another way of testing the dough is to form it into a ball and press the ball with your finger. If the dough springs back pretty readily when you press it then the dough is ready. If your finger leaves an indentation in the dough then it needs a bit more kneading.
Whilst it is possible to knead dough so much that the glutens in the flour break down, it is quite a feat to over-knead by hand and unlikely to have happened after 10 minutes of hand kneading. There is a bigger risk when kneading using a free-standing mixer and we would suggest that if you use your mixer to knead the dough then use the lowest speed and check the dough at regular intervals. On the lowest speed it usually takes 8-10 minutes to knead dough made with 250g (1 3/4 cups) flour. Larger quantities can take slightly longer.