The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

fixing too-stiff dough?

flour-girl's picture

fixing too-stiff dough?

Hi --

I made challah from the "Bread Baker's Apprentice" yesterday and was not at all happy with the dough. 

It turned out much too stiff. I kept adding drips of water, but was worried about adding too much.

I wrote more about it in this post at Flour Girl.

Anything I could've done to fix it?

Thanks and happy baking!

Heather/Flour Girl

Janknitz's picture

. . . even with a tried and true recipe I've had no problem with before.  I don't know why--did I leave out the yeast, measure incorrectly, increased humidity, what?  The only cure is to throw the dough out and start over--frustrating when you've put time and money into an enriched dough like challah.

BTW, did anyone see the For Better or Worse comic a few weeks ago when Elly forgot the salt in a big batch of dough: ???  LOL--we've all been there!. 

I'm not saying YOU left anything out, I'm just saying sometimes the dough just isn't right for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, when you have never made the recipe before, it's hard to know if it's the recipe or just one of those things.  Luckily, you have made challah before, so you know what the dough should be like.  If you try the BBA recipe again, you may want to keep out about a cup of the flour and add it gradually until the dough is the right consistency for challah.   

I hope it works better next time.

flournwater's picture

I have worked with that recipe.  I cut it in half (there's only two of us) and it worked well in my experience.  It's a beautifuly tender bread and evokes raves from guests when it's brought to the dinner table.  I'm assuming you weighed the ingredients, rather than dip/level/pour.  If you weighed your ingredients I'd suspect you simply missed something in the recipe.  I agree with Janknitz' suggestion to try it again and weigh each ingredient very carefully.

possum-liz's picture

If I find a dough is too dry I flatten the dought out as thinly as possible and spritz it with warm water.  Roll it up and do it again. Then knead/rest a bit. If you repeat this a couple of times, paying attention to how the dough feels you can probably rescue the batch.

flournwater's picture

I like your method, possum-liz.  Flatten and spritz, rather than tossing a spoonful of water and working with the initial mess it generates, makes more sense.  Thanks for sharing that idea.

amauer's picture

That happenened to me when I was in too big of a hurry and added all the flour at once. I added another egg, and kneaded it again until the right texture. My flour gets very dry in the winter in MN and recipes are often off.

Janknitz's picture

It seemed a bit too heavy and dry and stiff after the short kneading, but I decided to let it go through a fermentation and see what happened.  It was fine after the first fermentation--light and fluffy and plenty moist.  The baguettes were fine. 

I have a feeling that this dough would have benefittted from a longer autolyse--it only had 5 minutes per the recipe.