The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

that's it! I've had it up to HERE with this stupid sourdough rye!

bethel's picture

that's it! I've had it up to HERE with this stupid sourdough rye!

I've made plenty of rye/wheat yeasted breads with great success, but when I use my lovely tasty rye sourdough starter for the same thing it's so sticky I can't stand it. It's the consistency of just-chewed gum that sticks to your shoe on a warm day. I just have to touch it lightly with my little finger and it grabs on and won't let go. I've managed to make a boule or two in the past, and I love the slightly fruity sour rich complex taste that it has. But it's NOT FUN.

Today's was the not-funnest of all. I got so mad at it that I was yelling "STOP STICKING you !@$@$%# dough or I'll kill you". Then I gave up and shoved it in the oven in a loaf pan which it stuck to, of course, and now I can't get it out. It sure smells nice though!

Should I give up on the boule idea? I don't prefer sandwich bread.


fancypantalons's picture

Silly question, but you are dusting your hands and the boule with flour before handling, right? :)  Alternatively, you could dampen your hands.  Either way, this is a solvable problem (anyone who's dealt with high-hydration doughs feels your pain).

As for the loaf pan, you *did* grease the interior (and you can also then dust it with flour) before loading it, right? :)

bethel's picture

Yes, I was throwing boatloads of flour at it. I didn't grease the pan because I'd lost my mind by then. : )

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

There is a simple solution... just don't touch it. 

I stir with a plastic spoon, don't know if that makes any difference but I go thru a lot of spoons as soon as I shove the starter off the spoon with another wet spoon, both spoons get thrown into the sink into a cold wet bowl or something to soak.  Cold water washes it off best and I keep some kind of net scrungy near the sink to scrub with.  It is just the nature of the stuff.  Try handling the dough with a water instead of flour, a wet scraper, wet hands, etc.  Let the fawcet dribble while you handle the dough or have a bowl nearby that you can dip your hands, spatula, spoon in whenever and often. 

It is Fun!  Think of the dough... it loves you, wants your skin contact and can't stand to be parted with you!  Drop that sticky loving mass onto parchment paper.  Then drop the parchment onto the pan for the oven... no stick.  

I work my rye in an oiled bowl with a silicon spatula.  You can also work the dough on a silicone matt or in a silicone cake pan (the only good use I found for it) lightly oiled.  Lightly oil the spatula while you're at it. Drip about a teaspoon of water around the edges of the dough before sticking a wet spatula between the dough to loosten it.  The water then slides down the side keeping it loose while you work the whole bowl.

I love rye so much, I can't be put off by a little stickiness.  You could alternate baking with a wheat starter or a yeasted bread or a good batch of brownies to keep your sanity.  They are great for frustrations!  Think of the dough as hugging you and can't let go.  How could you get angry at that?  Huggy sticky kissing rye dough? 

You could try imaging something worse...  Look up sourdough facial in the search box.  Imagine a whole body slathered in rye starter and then trying to wash it off!  That makes sticky hands a "small scale" problem.


bethel's picture

Hmm, sounds like great advice, I'll try water and oil next time. And I'll just say " I love you too" when that dough gets all touchy-feely.

Thanks, I won't give up.

Going to look up sourdough facial now.....I imagine you need some wire wool to scrub it off again-serious exfoliating.

bethel's picture

Okay, found the sourdough facial post, which led me to the hilarious youtube video that you posted there too. Here it is again. I'm gonna try tieing a bandanna around my head next time I'm workin' that dough.

LindyD's picture

"Embrace stickiness."

Rye is sticky. And should be handled very gently.   Oil your hands and avoid throwing more flour at the dough, to avoid winding up with a grainy, coarse bread.

If you are into rye breads, you really should study the rye section of Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, a Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.  It contains excellent information on rye flours and how to handle them, and some wonderful rye recipes. Actualy, the entire book rocks. 

bethel's picture

Yes, I must accept the rye dough as it is, not wish it was like the lovely cohesive bubbly stretchy yeasted white dough

ananda's picture

Hey Bethel,

I'm feeling your pain, just like the other advisers on here.   And you have marshalled up the rye fanatics on this thread too!   Some great advice and encouragement so I really hope you keep trying.

Just a thought.   I've made lots of breads with rye sourdough at home of late.   Today I made a 100% rye loaf, with 33% of the flour being pre-fermented in the sour I used.

I've also made Caraway Rye, and Pain Siegle using a rye sour, but topped up with strong white bread flour to make the final dough.   I find rye is so fermentable, that, provided you get your culture right, you can get as low as maybe 5, and certainly 10% flour in your pre-ferment.   So you could, maybe make a bread with rye sour, with as little as 5% rye in it.   Then it will be almost like making a wheat-based pain au levain??!!   Just experiment til you feel comfortable.   To clarify, my breads were made with flour as 25% rye in the sour, and 75% strong bread flour.   A bit stickier than a wheat levain, but pretty easy to manage if the hydration is correct [65-68% is fine]

Ultimately, rye is sticky and that has to be embraced to make the best of it.   Read Hamelman, and embrace stickiness.   That has to be the best advice anyone could ever offer to a "wannabe" rye baker

Best wishes


clazar123's picture

"sticky,hugging kissing rye dough"

 I love it! Can't change the dough so change the attitude and what a picture, in my mind's eye!

I'm going to chuckle all day when I think of this one! Thank you!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You're welcome!  Wouldn't make a bad T-shirt either.  

Davo's picture

Yep, wet hands intially. What I do is mix (~3.6 kg bread dough all up) in a very big stainless bowl with a large stainless spoon. Mix fairly well without going overboard. With the salt in. Then walk away for 20 mins. SOme will say it's not a true autolyse with the salt in it, but hey it makes it a whole lot easier to handle. Then I knead using french folds, with wet hands and a wetted plastic bench scraper to help pick it up. The dough has got to be soft enough to french fold, 65% is typically too stiff for this... My first knead is usually about 10-12 folds, then let it sit on the bench. Usually I have a little stuck dough which takes a bit of scraping off, but nothing like it is if you knead straight from mixing. Then let it sit 10 mins, and do about 4-5 folds also with wet hands. By now you should not have much sticking going on. I usually do a couple more 10 min rests and a few fold, before I switch to the more gentle stretch and fold, which I do on a floured bench with floured hands, usually do two of these at 30-40 min intervals, and then scale/rest(10 mins)/shape.