The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sticky Newbie

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plnelson's picture
plnelson

Sticky Newbie

I'm a beginner at breadmaking and I like to eat hearty whole grain and multigrain breads.   When I try to make my own they come out hard and dense.  


Today I tried a new recipe -  the "Loaf for Learning" from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.   It actually came out better than any other attempt I've made so far!  So that's the good news.   


The bad news is that when I was kneading it it was the stickiest stuff I ever touched!   I don't mean the stickiest dough -  I mean the stickiest stuff of any kind!   You could PATENT it for its stickiness -  you could stop a runaway freight train by throwing a glob of it on the tracks!   The book showed nice pen-and-ink drawings of a pair of hands kneading it - MY hands looked like they were wearing dough mittens!   I couldn't see my fingers!   And it didn't get MUCH less sticky as I kneaded it.


So my beginner question is whether good bread dough is supposed to be this sticky to rise well.  I had an urge to add more flour to it but the book warned that if you do it might come out like a brick, and anyway, it didn't seem runny-wet, just sticky.


Thanks in advance.

firefighter12's picture
firefighter12

A little water or even oil helps me when I am working with a high hydration type dough.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

I too am trying to develop a whole wheat dough - and am having problems with the stickiness.  Here is the sequence of events - maybe some of you veterans can give me a suggestion:


 


This is the recipe I used:


http://www.sourdoughhome.com/100percentwholewheat.html


 


I finally put the dough together yesterday after a few days of developing the whole wheat starter.


 


It was way to sticky to knead to the point of windowpane test.  So I did several french folds after 2 or 3 20 minute rest periods.  I had to leave the house for the rest of the day so I put it in the refrigerator for a few hours.  After getting home late last night I decided to let it sit out all night.  When I pull the dough it breaks apart right away - like there is no gluten development.


 


This morning I have done several stretch and folds - It is rising.  


 


My question is - should I knead and knead until I get the windowpane achievement - or should I just let it rise to double, then shape, proof and bake.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've made Laurel's WW loaf many times, though not recently, but don't remember having any problem with stickiness. I wonder if you have too much water in the dough. Are you weighing out your ingredients? Using volume measurements to construct doughs probably works fine if you have a lot of knowledge/feel for what you are doing, but in my experience volume is iffy at best.


I use a very inexpensive electronic Salter scale. I've had it for many years and use it for all sorts of things besides baking.


It sounds like your dough is too hydrated and/or not kneaded enough. How are you kneading it? By machine or by hand? It takes quite a long time to develop the gluten strands with either method. I haven't used the stretch & fold technique on this bread, so I have no comment on that. But whichever methods or combinations of methods you use, you do need to attain the proper gluten development to pass the window pane test. A bread like this would take about 20 minutes of kneading using my 4.5 qt. Kitchen aid.


Try mixing it up and kneading for about 4 minutes. Then let it rest in the bowl for 5 minutes so the flour can hydrate. Then resume kneading it until it can pass the test.


I watch how the dough changes while kneading. It goes through various stages in the mixer. About half way though, the dough will start to make a kind  of slapping sound as it hit the sides of the bowl and its consistency will look visibly different.


It took me a long time to "befriend" my mixer. Bread making is part science and part art. You have to learn to use your judgement about things and this only comes with repeated attempts.


Hope some of this helps. Don't give up, just try again. Eventually things will click.


--Pamela 

plnelson's picture
plnelson

"I wonder if you have too much water in the dough. Are you weighing out your ingredients? Using volume measurements to construct doughs probably works fine if you have a lot of knowledge/feel for what you are doing, but in my experience volume is iffy at best."


That recipe calls for volume measurements.  In the book she suggests that beginners follow the recipe very precisely at least the first time, so. while I agree that weight is the "weigh" to go, I was trying to follow the book strictly.


"How are you kneading it? By machine or by hand? It takes quite a long time to develop the gluten strands with either method".


By hand (...as you can see by my comment about 'dough mittens', above. lol)   For about 30 minutes.  (and yes, I did dampen my hands first as the book suggested)  I got it to a good window-pane consistency where you could see the strands and the light shining through.


But I ended up losing about 1/3 of the dough because it stuck so much to my hands, the bowl, the spatula, etc that I couldn't get it off!  And cleanup afterwards was a bigger chore than usual.   However, what was left made the best bread I've made so far in my short, beginner's experience!  It was as good as any commercial bread I've bought, but not quite as good as the $6/boule artisan bakery breads around here that are my ultimate goal.


 


 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I just checked my book and the recipes list the amounts in grams too. You can convert the liquid ingredients to grams as well.


Most milk products: 1 cup = 8 ounces = 227 grams


1 1/2 tablespoons honey = 28..5 grams


1 tablespoon oil = 14 grams


Consult a more modern book for these common conversions.


Sounds like you have too much hydration (liquid). Try weighing everything out and using a spray bottle full of water to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, but don't add too much water as you are kneading. Also let the dough rest for at least 5 minutes after you mix it up before you begin kneading.


--Pamela

plnelson's picture
plnelson

I just checked my book and the recipes list the amounts in grams too. You can convert the liquid ingredients to grams as well.


Ha!  You're right -  it does -  I don't know why I didn't notice that!    I wonder why she does both, since they could conflict, depending on the R.H. and how dense the flour is and the poor beginner won't know which one to use. 


 


Someone else told be to let the dough rest longer - I did let it rest 5 minutes at the beginning but she suggested 15 minutes, and another 15 minute rest midway. 


 


So I'll try this again with weight measurements and  longer rests.   I've already eaten most of the first loaf anyway so I need more.   This is fun!


 


Thank you!


 


 

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Regarding losing a lot of dough stuck to hands (and counter, for that matter), on trick I've figured out with trying to kneed pizza dough is to wet a metal scraper and scrape the dough off.  Works better when one hand ends up cleaner than the other.  Getting the scraper wet keeps the dough from sticking to it as well.  Similarly, you can scrape the dough off the counter and into a ball when you're done.