The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

little help for a newbie

acpete48317's picture

little help for a newbie

I am a bit new to this whole baking thing. Although I can make a basic loaf, it needs some help. My first question is: when you are kneading, how do you keep the dough from sticking to everything (hands, countertops,etc) without adding a lot of extra flour? I do my kneading on a formica countertop if that means anything. Next: Is it true that tap water kill most yeast because of the clorine in it?

yozzause's picture

I use tap water all the time here in perth western australia we have chlorine and fluoride in our water supply and it doesn't seem to have any adverse effects on the yeast or dough formation.

I have even used sea SEA WATER omiting the salt from the formula, also used desalinated water.(Note the sea water was from the pristine SHARK BAY area of Western Australia)  

I often make a small dough on the bench not in a container at all, there is a period when it is quite sticky but as the gluten is developed it becomes a more pliable mass. Rub your hands periodicaly together to get the majority of the dough back onto the bench use the heel of one hand to push the dough away while holding down and back with the other this will help with the stretching and development of the gluten pull it back and repeat  3 or 4 times then rotate the dough and away you go again and again and again

The good thing about making a dough by hand is that you will be able to feel the changes taking place rather than watching the machine do the work. you will soon start to get a feel for the dough's development.

 regards yozza

LindyD's picture

Here's good information on water from KAF

CanuckJim's picture


The KAF sheet on water is very interesting from a chemistry point of view.  However, it, and most explanations like it, miss one salient point: taste.

In lean formulas, we've only got yeast, water, flour and salt, of course, so it seems prudent to shoot for the best quality and taste possible in each one.  That, for example, is the only reason we use gray Brittany sea salt for all our breads.

As a demonstration here at the beginning of a course, we line up three glasses of water: tap, bottled (so salt added) and spring water from a nearby source.  In a blind taste test, the spring water always wins.  The effect on the finished breads is subtle, no doubt, but my feeling is that if your prefer to drink it, you'll prefer it in your breads.

I've also found that my starter does best using this spring water.  It's not overly hard, but it does have ample trace minerals.  Certainly can't prove it, but I suspect wild yeast cultures have a slight preference for trace minerals.  On the flip side, my culture does not do as well with chlorinated water, even if I leave it out on the counter overnight so the gas will dissipate.  These effects are slight but noticeable.



LindyD's picture

CJ, the KAF link was for the benefit of the OP, who questioned the effect of chlorine on yeast.

Am glad that you have found water and salt to your liking.  I'm fortunate to not have to worry about such things as my well water is quite fantastic.