The Fresh Loaf

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A very, very wet dough

pmiker's picture

A very, very wet dough

I tried this recipe before and failed.  I know more now and wish to try it again but it still scares me.  By my calculation, the hydration level is 89%.  Maybe I did the math wrong but I remember this being very wet.  It has 4 cups of flour and 2 cups of water.  That's about 16 oz of water for 18 oz of flour.  Not to mention that 2 cups of raisins will add additional moisture.  Has anyone who has worked with a dough this wet offer some tips?  I will be using a KA mixer with this.  Should I use flour or oil on my hands and the counter to work with this?



Here's the recipe (from the Levain Bakery website and published also in Bicycling)

1 package active dry yeast

2 cups warm water

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup high gluton flour (bread flour)

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup dark raisins

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup walnuts

Makes about 24 rolls

Dissolve the yeast in 2 cups of water in mixing bowl.

Combine the flours and the salt and add to yeast mixture along with raisins and walnuts.

Using a dough hook combine all ingredients, adding additional flour or water as needed until dough is smooth and elastic.

The dough should be very soft. Knead another 45


Cover and let rise overnight in refrigerator.

Take out and cut into small roll size pieces. Shape into rounds by pressing against your surface with a circular motion. Place on floured parchment paper on a

sheet pan.

Cover and let rise again overnight in refrigerator or until about double in size.

Bake at 450 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top and bottom.

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hmmm...  I have done whole wheat breads at about 90% hydration with success by hand using a large metal mixing bowl, wooden spoon, and scraper...

I think you should make this dough by hand.  Here's how I would proceed:

Measure out all the dry ingredients.  I a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, yeast, and make a well in the center.  Add the water slowly into the center, and start mixing with a wooden spoon in one direction, slowly mixing in some of the flour, and adding more water so you have a batter in the center...  Then, after you have added all the water, continue mixing in the flour until it is all combined in a scrappy dough.  Then cover with plastic wrap or put in a big plastic bag and autolyse (rest) for 30 minutes to 1 hr.

After the autolyse, knead using the "french fold" method, kneading in the bowl.  You just need to do a few of these, and then cover and let rest for 15 minutes.  Do this 3 more times.  After the 4th one, add some of the raisins and walnuts, and turn the dough using the stretch and fold method.  Do this every 15 minutes until all the raisins and walnuts are combined.  Then, put the dough into a lightly oiled plastic container and cover and place into fridge overnight...  Then proceed as the instructions...

Hope this helps...

LLM777's picture

Thanks for the great method with whole grains and adding in fruit and nuts. I will try this with my own breads. 

I, too, have worked with higher hydration whole grain breads, in fact, all I work with is whole grains. The higher hydration seems to be the way to get a lighter loaf and the stretch and fold method is the best way to work with it. 

judyinnm's picture

This higher hydration would make for less dense 100% rye sourdough, too, n'est-ce pas?

Ryeblossom's picture

I'm using such wet dough on a regular basis. Actually, I'd use a bit less water, but not use whole wheat flour, so the dough shouldn't be wetter than mine. 

The best way to deal with it is with wet hands (not dripping wet, but more than damp), and with a method similar to a french fold. It's hard to explain in writing, but think about smelling soup or something boiling- you'd move your hand in a circular motion to bring the steam closer to your nose. That's similar to the way I move my hand to beat the dough. After getting the dough mixed well, I let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and beat it fast and hard with one hand, while still in the bowl, until it looks smoother. It shouldn't even take a minute. Do that 2 more times at similar intervals (just see when the dough looks like it's rising). That's it. It's even easier than a french fold.

I don't know how it'd work with this recipe, but it's possible to work with wet dough.

(I hope nobody faints here or worse because I don't speak well 'accurate measurements'...)