The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mells's picture

How to knead a very sticky dough

Hi everyone. I'm new to this site and as well as making bread too. 

Okay. Previously, I've baked using cup measurement and the dough is pretty smooth and elastic. But I've heard people saying that cup measurement is not that accurate and the dough is suppose to be sticky, so that the bread is soft and fluffy. 

And then I tried again using the weighing scale to measure my bread flour. And this time, the dough is so so so sticky! I couldn't knead at all, it sticks on my hand, the bowl and the counter too. 

I tried putting flour on the dough but it still sticks so I add again and again. But it's still so sticky so I did not knead much. I do not want to add too much flour but I just couldn't help it. So, in the end, the bread came out so dense. I don't know how to knead in such a sticky situation.  

Your reply is appreciated. Thanks.  

flourgirl51's picture

La Cloche or Bread Dome?

I am thinking of getting a stoneware baker and am undecided between the LaCloche and the Bread Dome, both made by Sassafrass. 

Has anyone compared the two as far as size and functionality?

chris319's picture

How Much Barley Malt?

Does anyone know how much malted barley flour/diastatic malt is typically added by millers to white wheat flour, say on a percentage weight basis?

Thank you.

GlenisB's picture

Puzzled by dough tests

I've been baking bread for almost a year now and after a few early disasters I'm now confident with a variety of loaves: White, Wholemeal, Pizza base, Baguettes, Ciabatta, Sourdough etc.

They usually turn out well with good crumbs, nice crust and most importantly, the family love them and we haven't bought a shop-baked loaf for a long time.

Now what puzzles me is the dough tests often mentioned here and in various books. The window-pane test is the most confusing in that I've never achieved it. I've kneaded by hand using the French slap or push and fold methods. I've let dough rest during kneading, I've used a stand mixer. I've extended the kneading times to as long as 30 minutes - until I'm exhausted - none of these give the window-pane effect.
And yet I always get good oven spring, good crust

Let's take a basic recipe for white bread:

500g strong white bread flour (Alinson's)
10g salt
7g fast-action dried yeast
40ml olive oil
320ml water

Tray of water in bottom of oven
Spray inside of oven with a mister at start
Bake at 210C for 25 minutes (Fan oven)
Lower temperature to 190C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.

This seems to produce a decent loaf every time so:

Where am going wrong by failing to produce the elusive window-pane effect with the above?

Would the bread be better if I could produce the window-pane effect?

Should I just stop being nerdy & continue as I am?

Your thoughts please.

christinepi's picture

about to try my first sourdough bread, but confused...

I'm a total sourdough beginner. I just made my starter according to gaaarp's directions ( and it turned out beautifully. I stuck it in the fridge this morning. (It actually lost  a bit of volume since--is that normal? It was huge and bubbly) I would like to use it (today is Tuesday) on Thursday evening to start a no knead sourdough with KA AP and WWW (ratio undetermined).

Sooo... what do I do? Could somebody kindly walk me through the steps? I tried to figure this out online but there's too much info out there and I can't find answers to all the questions I have.

--I assume I need to feed it before then? It currently weighs 276 grams. When between today and Thursday evening and how much flour/water do I feed it? 

--Let's say I take it out Wednesday to feed it. I assume I'd take out, say, 50% because I won't need all that starter once it's doubled. So I'll take out 50% (138g), and then add flour and water in equal amounts. Then I let it sit out at room temperature, and let's say it doubled by Thursday morning--do I stick it ALL back in the fridge, or stir it and take out my required amount of starter, leave IT on the counter, and stick the rest in the fridge? Or do I put the measured out amount back in the fridge, too, because it would expand too much until I'm ready to use it? And do I then take it out closer to baking time to have it come back to room temperature? That's where I really need help.

--I've noticed the 1:1:1 ratio rule. Doesn't that mean instead of doubling the amount I triple it? I'm sure there's something I'm not getting.

--Let's say the recipe (I don't have one right now) asks for 1/4 cup starter. Do I stir the starter until it's been de-bubbled and then fill a 1/4 cup?

--Should the starter always be at room temperature when ready to mix the dough?

--Or, to make this simple for now, maybe the starter is plenty ready to go for Thursday and I should just leave it be? Let's say I intend to make the dough at 7pm Thursday evening. How long before should I let the required amount of starter sit out to get to room temperature?

It would be great if someone had a basic sourdough recipe for me to tackle. I'm so excited!!


Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Levain did't double in size when kept at 85º??

I make the Tartine Country Bread.

My levain is 150 grams water and 150 grams flour (flour is half whole wheat and half all purpose) and 20 to 30 grams of starter.

 I usually keep it on my counter at 70º and it will double in about 11 hours and this gives me a good indication that it is ready to use.

This time I kept the levain in my proofing box at 85º (to speed up fermentation) for about 7.5 hours and it didn't double.  It was very loose and liquidish in when I used it.

I don't understand why the levain didn't not work right when I kept it at a higher temperature?

Thank you.

ichadwick's picture

Breadmaking history

Stuff I thought I'd share here.

While searching for information on ancient grains, I found this PDF file online:

Quite interesting.Several ancient grains discussed, as well as the difference between spring and winter wheats.

Then I started looking into the association between bread and tooth decay or dental problems. That leads to some odd sites, like this one:

Which talks about phytic acid in grains and bran, which would relate to breads. It's a bit esoteric for breadmaking, but interesting nonetheless because it talks about using whole grains in baking. The author says:

Through observation I have witnessed the powerful anti-nutritional effects of a diet high in phytate-rich grains on my family members, with many health problems as a result, including tooth decay, nutrient deficiencies, lack of appetite and digestive problems.

Have to look further into those claims. Has anyone read about this before?

Here's a piece about ancient Egyptian breads:

It notes:

In addition to consisting of wheat, barley, dates or malted grain, some other ingredients were found which suggest that bread may have been a blessing as well as a curse for the ancient Egyptian people. Through x-ray analysis, experimentation involving floating crumbs in water, and microscopical examination, archaeologists have concluded that ancient Egyptian bread often contains inorganic particles of sand, rock, and dirt, making for a gritty loaf. This, combined with dental evidence paints an interesting picture of how the ancient Egyptians' diet affected their bodies.

It also has a recipe for making a bread based on ancient Egyptian style.

Then I found this site which has info about historical bread in Europe:

which also discusses Egyptian breads and their attendant dental problems. But further down in the post, I read this, which really made me perk up:

John explained that he’s discovered, and had confirmed through spectral analysis, that the sourdough baking method ‘de-natures’, ie neutralises, ergot. My ears immediately pricked up because I associate ergotism very much with the mediaeval period. That’s partly because we have records of outbreaks of St Anthony’s fire, as it was known, from that era but also because various things, from the Children’s Crusade (which may be apocryphal or constructed from a variety of separate incidents), to the particularly horrific mediaeval imagery of hell.


However here John’s key discovery about the impact of the high lactic acid levels on ergot is critical. The rye growing Germanic peoples made their bread almost exclusively from rye flour. It’s not possible to get rye to rise using the sort of yeasts produced as a by product of brewing. It requires a sourdough method, ergo (as opposed to ergot) pure rye loaves will not tend to result in ergotism – I won’t say cannot, but that is the inference.

So to produce ergotised bread one needs a mix of rye and other flours that are sufficiently ‘light’ that they can be raised with yeast and not a sourdough leaven. In the very early mediaeval period the Normans introduced rivet wheat and rivet produced a very white flour.

That opens a fascinating area of research... The spread of rye from Germanic to Norman and Anglo Saxon people may have been accompanied by a wave of health-related problems. And perhaps the witch craze. Have to pursue that further!

This comes from research I did for a post I wrote about Chaucer's bread, here:

PiPs's picture

To much baking for blogging ...

Hi everyone,

just wanted to drop a quick note and say hello ...


i am busy baking everyday and thus have basically no time for assembling blog posts ... however ...

... if you would like a quick catch-up with what I am up to, I have set up an Instagram account where I hope to share snapshots of my days.

In the future I hope to find a little more balance and return with longer and more in-depth posts ...

all the best


Floydm's picture

Thanksgiving Baking Ideas

Many wonderful Thanksgiving recipes have been posted on TFL over the years.  Here are a handful:



Lunch Lady Rolls




Thanksgiving Multi-Grain Marble Chacon



Sourdough pumpkin cornmeal buns



Pumpkin breads




Sweet Potato Rolls




Cranberry nut rolls




Buttermilk Cluster



Struan Bread



Cranberry-Orange Walnut Bread




Light Rye Bread



Pumpkin Quick Bread



Wild Rice & Onion Bread



Searching for Thanksgiving here turns up a bunch more wonderful looking recipes and photos.


Link to you favourites below!

DoubleMerlin's picture



I'm a 19-year-old bread baker living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota, USA. I'm researching sourdough at the University of Minnesota on my way to getting a Food Science B.S.

I love all things fermented, especially bread. Gluten is my friend, and I want nothing more than to make the best breads all of the time.