Mixing and handling
Mixing: Combine the liquid and proofed yeast at the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add flour and salt. Some of the best breads are 'lean doughs', consisting simply of flour, water, yeast and salt. Baguettes and ciabatta are examples of lean doughs. Enriched doughs, on the other hand, contain fat - whether in the form of butter, milk, oil or eggs. Hot cross buns, brioche and sweet doughs are enriched doughs. If your recipe calls for butter or egg yolks, mix the flour-water-yeast mixture to hydrate the flour and develop the gluten strands before working in the fat.
Kneading: Using a plastic bowl scraper, wooden spoon or your hands, scrape the dough onto a liberally floured work surface. Kneading develops long elastic strands of gluten, or wheat protein, which trap the gases produced by the yeast. Kneading by hand is not a complicated process, but it does require some stamina. With the heels of your hands, press the dough down and away from you. Fold the dough over, turn 90 degrees, and repeat over and over until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you're using a stand mixer, knead with the hook attachment on low speed until the dough is elastic. Flour or oil your fingertips and pinch off a small piece of dough. You should be able to stretch the dough to a thin 'windowpane' without tearing it.