Mixing Dough by Hand

Has anyone had to make dough by hand? Obviously, there haven’t been mixers around forever. I am wanting to know if there are any secrets to doing it?


No big secret.
Regardless of the type of yeast you are using, suspend it in the dough water, add the yeast suspension tothe bowl, add flour and all dry ingredients, stir with a wooden spoon (keeps the hands cleaner) until the “dough” has the consistency of oat meal. Set aside to ferment for about 2-hours at room temperature, turn the dough out of the bowl and knead a couple of times in flour, oil the bowl the dough was in and place it back into the bowl, allow to ferment for another hour, then turn the dough out onto the bench top and form into balls, set the dough balls aside and allow to ferment for about another hour, or until they can be easily opened into pizza skins, from that point on, handle in the normal manner. If you go to the RECIPE BANK you will fins my home made pizza dough “recipe” and procedure.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks Tom…I appreciate the comment.

As a side note, years ago I was in Romania visiting what I was told was one of the largest bakeries in the country. It had over 60 mixers in the bakery. That it did, and each one was operated by two men with wood stirring sticks, about the size of a canoe paddle. The bowl was about 1-meter in diameter and 1/2-meter deep. The bowls were filled with water, and then dry ingredients (flour, salt , sugar and yeast), the men set about their task of mixing the dough in one of their assigned bowls, after a couple minutes of mixing, they would go to the next bowl and repeat the process, after all of the doughs were mixed, the bowls were covered with a huge plastic sheet and left to ferment for about 2-hours, then a small truck with a flatbed trailer came by and the contents of each bowl was unloaded onto the trailer for transport to the kneading area. The dough was portioned into pieces and worked/rounded into balls, placed into wood boxes and allowed to ferment again for about an hour, they were then placed into wicker baskets for proofing, and finally they were turned out of the baskets onto baking pans and taken to the oven for baking. Quite an operation, to say the least.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


I have used mixers for years and now that I don’t have a shop anymore, I want to be able to do it from home with having to worry about it. Plus, it would be a great selling point of a shop to say the dough is made by hand. Would the consistency be there?

I’m using a 25 pound bag of four for my mix, the first one I borrowed a mixer at the casino I work at. But I don’t know how long that will go. And I have a good recipe I already use, does the recipe make a difference on the process? It’s yeast, oil, sugar and salt plus the flour and water. I wouldn’t think that would make a difference.

It is more in the procedure than the formula/recipe when you make the dough by hand. For home use, the results are pretty good, as well as consistent. Come to think of it, there is a pizzeria in the Pittsburgh, PA area where the dough is all mixed by hand in a long stainless steel trough. By the way, the guy mixing the dough doesn’t have a single hair on either of his arms from the elbow down.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Lol…you could use gloves such as what vets use also. I’ll give it a try and if I have any questions during the process, I’ll drop you a line. It sounds pretty easy to do though. Plus, think of the fact that it would save me several thousand dollars in buying a mixer large enough for dough. Cheese can be graded other ways too. And sauce, i used a large whisk, no problem there.

Jim, I envision a 5 foot tall Italian guy with Popeye arms!!! :stuck_out_tongue:

who also mixes the spinach linguine by hand.

I just wanted to point out something that caught my eye from Jim’s posts:

[size=5]A happy employee makes a happy guest!![/size]

This is so true and overlooked so often!

Hey Mike,

Thanks for noticing it. That’s how I run my business and how I manage.

Update!! It only took me a year to actually do it. But I got it done and it worked out well. I mixed it in a small, plastic garbage can. I should have did it in trough instead. And, it’s a little workout, but over all, it was good. I just wanted to update if anyone was interested.

Your arms must be really tired.

Actually, what you ment to say was that you mixed the dough in a small plastic, trash can like container that was approved for food contact…didn’t you.
What did you use to stir the dough? Your hands or something else?
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

You’re right Tom, I did use a small plastic, trash can like container that was approved for food contact. At first I used a rubber spatula with a long handle. I did go to the hand method. It was easier and I could get down to the bottom to mix it up better. But my small plastic container was a little deep, so I’m wondering if I shouldn’t get something longer and shallower.

Brad, it wasn’t too bad. I’m not ready to do 4 or 5 batches yet. I did buy another bag of flour to do it again.

Do yo u think one of the deeper pans, like a bussing pan (they’re a bit deeper and handier in this application than a deep dough box) might work for you? You could actually mix the dough in one of these, and allow it to ferment for about an hour, and then transfer it into a larger container, like an ingredient bin for storage until use. This way you could make several doughs and not have to worry about it fermenting out of the container. Just an idea.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
One other thing, if you lightly oil the larger bulk container it will be a lot easier to get the dough out of it later.

Tom…a deep bus tub would work good. It would allow me to work the dough and be more consistent. That was the problem with the deeper health department approved storage can is the depth and trying to get underneath it when mixing. So, I ended up with a few little dried flour chips. Not a ton, just one here and there. The dough turned out good in the end, it rose properly and we’ll do our taste test tonight which I do not foresee a problem.