The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

why is my dough so tough?

daysi's picture

why is my dough so tough?


I baked white bread and WW bread last week, and both doughs lacked elasticity, one I kneaded in the same bowl I mixed the ingredients in, and the second on the counter. For more stretching of the dough I did and kneading for the recommended time (10 min) they still seemed to be very tough. Both of them during the first rise double in size, after shaping and panning them they stop rising. Here are a few pictures I hope you can get an idea of what I am talking about and could perhaps give me some advice. By the way both tasted very good, the white bread had a crusty crust and a soft crumb, and the WW bread had a bit of a hard crust mmmm not that hard, probably "dry" is a best description, the crumb is very soft a bit dense though.

this is the white dough, I forgot to picture the WW but it was pretty much the same.

The breakage is what happened when I pulled the dough... windowpane test? hum....



LindyD's picture

Hi Daysi,

Without seeing the receipes you're using, it's hard to come up with any suggestions.

Are you measuring your ingredients by volume (cups) or by weight (scale)?

daysi's picture

I am using cups, for the WW I used a recipe I found here

and the white bread was 2cups water, 2 1/2 tbls yeast, about 5 cups of AP flour, some salt oil and sugar.

With the white dough I added a bit more flour until it was no longer sticking to my hands, and the WW I follow the recipe and the dough was quite sticky

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Your dough looks dry to me. I would suggest that you get a scale ($25.00 at or Bed,Bath/Beyond) and use a recipe with weight measurements. Then, resist the temptation to add flour.

It is the most natural thing in the world to do when starting to make bread. It feels weird to be working with sticky dough and we all want to "fix" it. What you don't realize is the kneading is what fixes the stickiness.

If the dough is sticking and driving you crazy try using wet hands and a lightly oiled countertop or start the kneading process in the bowl with a flexible plastic dough scraper. (a french fold in a bowl) There are some videos of this process in the video section on this website.

dennisinponca's picture

Many may disagree but, I live by old adage of,  "The more you knead, the tougher the bread will be." 

One must find a balance for each recipe. 

By the way, your bread looks great.

ananda's picture


It's one of the best pieces of advice for baking you could have been given.   Buy some accurate digital scales.

I don't think over-kneading is your problem; although I use the term "mixing" not kneading.

Tracy has this spot on.   Your flour needs to be properly hydrated to get the best out of the protein and the starch element.   Remember, the original glue was flour and water paste, so a dough is bound to feel sticky when you first start to mix!   You just have to get used to this, and resist the temptation to add flour.

Fundamentally, the "knead on a floured surface" [unless you are deliberately starting to work with a dough which is too wet in the first place] is bad instruction.   I know it is common textbook advice, but, I think it is wrong.

If Mr Hamelman, or Mr Leader or Mr Reinhart has gone to the trouble of creating a recipe requiring 70% hydration, that is what they specify.   The only variable I can think of is the quality/type of flour used.   If you start piling flour on the bench as you work the dough the hydration % is seriously compromised.   It is easiest to achieve % balance using accurate weighing techniques.   Avoid the recipes using volumetric measuring, and you are doing yourself a big favour in the long term.

To that end, I recommend strong white flour for tinned bread should hydrate at 63%.   The best wholemeal may take 72%.   If you are really struggling with these, try a 30 minute autolyse of flour and water, before adding the other ingredients and going on to develop the dough.

These figures are not high when you look at some of the more advanced recipes here on TFL.

Good luck, and best wishes