The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Nearly Water-like Dough Problem

scottv's picture

Nearly Water-like Dough Problem

I have been making this recipe for about a month and not had a problem.

4 cups of flour
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir about 3-5 minutes until the flour is blended in.  Place tin foil over the bowl and let it rise for 18 - 22 hours.

It rises fine but the problem is the last two times I went  to punch it down and get ready to shape the loaf - it was like water.   I couldn't shape the loaf at all and had to throw it out.

What went wrong?

Could I have let is sit too long?

Could the temperature been too hot in my apartment?

PaddyL's picture

I generally go with about 6 cups of flour to 2 cups of water.

kolobezka's picture


I experienced a similar problem just two days ago. I made a sourdough version of no-knead. But, inspired by this forum, I made 2 series of 8-10 folds in the bowl after 4 and 8 hours. So I could see that at that time the dough consistence was OK and it was rising. But in the morning I the volume was lower (I let it ferment in a 2 liters measuring cup) and the dough was really liquid.

The fermentation time was about 18 hours, temperature around 21-23°C. I guess it was completely overproofed. I still tried to bake it in a loaf pan after 3hour proofing - no oven spring, very wet and dense crumb.

I think the standard recommended fermentation time for this no-knead recipe is 12-18hours, room temperature. I do not know where you live, but the temperature might have got higher as the spring comes, or for other reason. - which of course would shorten the fermentaion time. Next time I will be more careful about the time/temperature ratio.

What I do not understand is the statement in HBin5 (using 1tbsp for 4 cups flour) that the dough should start to collaps and longer rising times (2hours - overnight span) do not harm the result) - would anybody have an explanation here?


mrfrost's picture

Issues of consistency here. The main probable cause is an inconsistency in the "amount" of flour being used.

The second cause could be the result the dough fermenting in a warmer environment or for a longer period of time. The more fermentation allowed, the wetter the mixture will become, as a result of yeast activity.

My opinions of course.

4 cups of flour could be 20 ounces(or more) of flour, or it could 16 ounces of flour(or less).

Weigh the ingredients, or be very diligent in your volume measurements. Be cognizant of the fermentation conditions as to temperature and time.

bqmother's picture

I haven't tried this particular recipe, and I generally let the dough rise just  until doubled in bulk, so I'm not sure why it needs to rise for so many hours unless it is refrigerated.  However, my usual ratio of liquids to flour is 2:5.5-6.  That is, for 2 cups liquid (water, milk, whey, or any combination) I expect to use 5 1/2 to 6 cups of flour.  I also keep a cup or so of extra flour handy in case I want it for rolling out and kneading.

Hope this helps.