I am test driving a friend's Kitchenaid Artisan stand mixer to see if it's worth purchasing for bread-baking, and I ran across some problems with mixing and kneading bread dough.
I started with the White Mountain bread recipe (a sandwich type loaf bread) from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger, which I have made successfully by hand a few times. Using the stand mixer, and following the recipe's suggested guidelines, my dough ended up a mess - sticky, wet, would not hold together. I did not know what else to do but keep adding flour, hoping it would help the dough start to "pull away" from the bowl, but it would just quickly end up absorbed in the dough - I think I ended up putting in like 1 1/2 c more flour than the recipe called for! I ended up pulling it out and hand-kneading (adding even MORE flour - I know, disastrous!) and the bread turned out super chewy and not so great. I took a look at the Kitchenaid manual for help on this issue, and it states that for bread doughs you should never use the paddle attachment, only the dough hook, from the get-go (Hensperger's recipe said start with paddle, then switch to dough hook when dough comes together). OK, so I decided to try her pita recipe, this time using only the dough hook, but the same thing happened, in that I ended up adding an additional cup of flour beyond the recipe's amount, and got a really crusty and hard pita. Yuck.
So I need some help on basics of kneading dough in a stand mixer - how long do I need to knead for usually (for simple white breads) before it starts to come together? Is it ever okay to add MORE flour than called for if the dough looks too sticky? If the dough doesn't bunch on the hook and pull away, is it not ready to come out? I should mention that I am still a novice baker so I could use all the help I can get! Thanks!