Among the many KitchenAid mixer attachments available, the dough hook is particularly useful when you want to make a loaf of bread. If you are used to making bread by hand, the dough hook simplifies your life by doing most of the mixing and kneading for you. After your mixer does the hard work, all you need to do is proof, shape, and bake your bread dough. No matter what bread recipe you are using, the dough hook makes it easier, faster and less time-consuming for you. It does the work, you get the glory and it's your little secret.
Place your mixing bowl in the stand of your KitchenAid mixer and lower it. Load the dough hook into the attachment slot and turn it until it locks into place.
Put the dough ingredients specified by your bread recipe into the bowl of the mixer. Follow the recipe's instructions regarding the order of those ingredients.
Turn the hand crank on the side of your mixer to raise the bowl upward, so that the dough hook is fully inside the bowl. Now turn the mixer on to 1, its lowest setting, so that the dough hook starts rotating and slowly combining your ingredients in the bowl.
Begin sliding the speed control lever on your KitchenAid mixer upward as the dough hook pulls the wet and dry ingredients together. You will see the bread dough start to form into a ball around the hook. As you see the ingredients integrate, you can turn the speed higher; reduce speed if it seems the dough or mixer is becoming unstable.
Stop the mixer when the dough has formed a soft, elastic ball. Lower the mixer bowl and remove the dough hook from the attachment slot in your mixer. Scrape the dough off the hook and into the bowl.
Turn the dough ball out onto a flat surface, such as your clean kitchen counter, to proof. Cover with cling film and let proof until doubled in bulk, usually at least 40 minutes. Consult your recipe and follow any other suggestions it offers regarding this time.
Shape and bake your bread according to your recipe's instructions, in a fully preheated oven. Use parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking if you are baking artisanal free-form loaves on a sheet pan. Use butter or food release spray if you are using a loaf pan.
Clean your KitchenAid mixer bowl and dough hook after use, before the dough has a chance to harden. If it does get hard, simply allow the bowl and dough hook to soak in some warm, soapy water for 10 minutes before you try to clean them. Dry them and put them away as soon as you are done washing to avoid spots on the stainless steel. Wipe the mixer itself with a clean, damp cloth; never submerge any part of the mixer to clean it.