The Fresh Loaf

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Sticky Dough - recommendations please

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ndechenne's picture
ndechenne

Sticky Dough - recommendations please

So I've got two recipes that I'm currently trying to get down, the Stella Culinary artisan loaf and Hammelman's Vermont Sourdough. Bulk ferment and slap and fold knead methods are the focus here. Regardless...

I live in the PacificNorthwest. Wet environment. My doughs are going towards the sticky side if I go straight to recipe. I have a great scale, I work without machines and the product tastes great.  Oven spring is ok but they are not as cohesive as I'd like them to be (They look more like a 3/4 filled water balloon that a fully filled one, if that makes sense).

Dough is sticky. Hard to work with even after 2nd/third S&F's and it sticks too much to the plastic wrap and/or bannetons in FP. Rice flour I'm gonna try to deal with that but overall I think the dough is too wet. 

My first inclination is to back off the water a bit and try another go. Thoughts from the group on if you'd go there first or look to another issue. And if it is water, what's a good percetnage to back off... 10%... 20? Are there any decent guidelines for this perhaps when tweaking recipes for local climates?

Thanks for the help!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and a super-thin layer on your hands.  A few drops will do the trick and use cool hands and just your finger tips.  If you want to back off the water, try backing down 10% and then working back up with 5% increases with each consecutive batch after you've gotten control of the dough.  New bowls and containers work better as non-stick surfaces than older worn "cloudy" surfaces.  

You can also back off the water and use water to wet your hands before handling the dough.  Wet kneading and folding is a lot of slippery fun!  ...and no flour clumps!   

 That's about all I can come up with at the moment.   You seem to have good instincts. 

phaz's picture
phaz

 higher hydration is supposed to =  bigger holes.  if you can live with a slightly less than perfect crumb and a denser loaf, lower water a smidge, or add more flour till the dough is to your liking.  personally, I find huge holes a bit of a pain.  yeah, it's not text book perfect, but it holds your favorite spread a lot better. the main thing is the flavor, and I doubt you would notice any difference there. by the way, wet hands works out great! 

Davo's picture
Davo

I make typically 70% hydration SD with typ 10-15% rye. It's sticky, especially to start with. I use wet hands and wet the bench for kneading, which I do in short bursts of slap and fold at 10 min intervals. Pick up using the help of a bench scraper. In between these I put it back in the bowl it was mixed in - which I have in the meantime scrubbed out, dried and smeared with a little olive oil. After a few bursts of this I switch to S&Fs on a floured bench (not wet anymore).

Less hydration means denser bread, generally, and after a while you learn to use fast hands and the stickiness becomes less of an issue.

I use a mix of rice and wholemeal rye flour to line banettons, and it works well. All rice will make it definitely not stick at all, but I like the sligthly grainy rye on the surface of the loaf. I put a little of this on the upper surface of the (upside down) loaf to stop it sticking to the plastic bags I place them in, too.

Red5's picture
Red5

What brand flour are you using?

ndechenne's picture
ndechenne

I use KAF or Red Mill bread flours, Red Mill Rye and KAF WW. 

Red5's picture
Red5

It's not the climate, so don't worry about that. If it's King Arthur AP flour, that is your main problem. I always thought the biggest flaw in the Tartine book is recommending any AP flour for a 70% or more hydration dough. KA AP flour just doesn't have the ability to absorb that much water properly. Personally I consider it a low-end national brand with great marketing. 

Are you making a loaf that uses all 4 of those flours or just different combinations with those flours...AP/rye, bread/rye, WW/rye, AP/WW, etc...

 

ndechenne's picture
ndechenne

So I'm using the  KABF, not the AP. I presume marketing accounts for that as well? :-)

I'll switch brands.. see how it goes. I make all sorts of combinations, though this issue is cropping up across the board with my S&F method of preparations. 

Red5's picture
Red5

It's what's available to most people and it's better than the Gold Medals, etc. I've just grown to not care for thier product. They were the main flour brand at my last place between thier AP, Bread, Organic, and White Wheat. I noticed the quality was inconsistant and have also been lucky to live in an area where I've found better flours in the same price range. I really don't think the S&F is the issue here, assuming you're autolysying and bulking properly.

If they have the KA Organic flour, try that out. It has a much higher absorbtion rate than the bread flour. At my last job we ran out of the bread flour (called Lancelot for commercial sales) and I replaced with the Organic flour and ended up having to add water since the absorbtion rate was so much greater. I experimented and found that a recipe that called for 100 pounds of Organic flour and 70 pounds of water, I would need to mix between 105-110 pounds of bread flour to equal what I got from the 100 pounds of Organic.