The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

So I oiled my bowl for rising

berryblondeboys's picture

So I oiled my bowl for rising

and it got just as stuck to the bowl as if I didn't oil the bowl. Then, my dough changed with the added oil to it - especially noticeable on the crust. Why does it seem everythign I do with baking bread, go contrary to what you all masters can do? I'm not a novice in the kitchen and most people find me pretty gourmet and an excellent cook. I have the moistest cakes, etc. BUT breads are the hardest thing yet. I cannot even get the oiling of the bowl right! ugh... is there a trick I'm missing?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

One of my plastic bowls seems to need oiling.  I don't pour out more than the amount that would cover a dime.  The bowl is clean and dry.  I start rubbing it all over the bottom and up the sides with my finger tips ending with rubbing any left onto my hands and maybe the spatula.  I use olive oil.  It should not be enough oil to interfere with the dough; just enough to put a shine on the bowl, that's all.

Now with the high ryes, I don't oil anymore.  Dripping a teaspoon or two of water around the edge between the bowl and the dough is enough to help when I run a wet spatula down the sides and bottom to release the stuck dough.  The little bit of water keeps it from sticking back on.  Then I tip the bowl and the dough globs out real easy into my hand.

Oil or no oil, sticking can happen anytime so keep your unsticking gear (scraper) within reach.  Don't wait too long for it to unstick itself and help it out to avoid tearing and degassing.  If you help each and every dough out of the bowl, the sticky ones won't stand out to frustrate you. 


ehanner's picture

I learned a trick while watching a video from King Arthur years ago, the artisan bread video I think.

They demonstrated a method of tossing a fine dusting of flour around the top edge of the bowl so that when you come around with a plastic scraper punching it in between the bowl and dough, the flour falls down the sides of the dough. (long sentence eh) So you turn the bowl sliding the scraper down the sides quickly striking the bowl and separating the dough from the bowl. After one time around, the dough will fall out of the bowl top side down on a floured counter.

This works with 80% super hydrated dough and is the recommended method by James MacGuire on his Pain de Tradition (search here).

I agree, the use of oil is convenient and does work but is wholly unnecessary.


txfarmer's picture

I spray PAM in my bowls (stainless steel, plastic, whatever), even the wettest doughs don't stick. If they do, spray more next time. (I agree with mini, I don't do that with high percentage rye dough, I use water for it.)

I assume that you are doing the oiling/sticking during bulk rise? Do you round and smooth your dough before dropping it into the bowl? If not, I suggest you do. Smooth tight surface has less chance to stick.

More importantly, I think you need to be more confident when it comes to bread making and dough handling. I "hear" a lot of frustration when reading your post - "why can't I do anything right when baking bread?!", that mentality might be the reason in itself! You know how when you crack an egg, if you hesitate, you won't get it cracked cleanly? Same thing with flipping a pancake? The act itself is not hard, but if you 2nd guess and hesitate, you touch the dough longer, you get stuck.

When dealing with a wet dough, it's all about swift and decisive handling. Oil you hands, round the dough after mixing, drop into oiled/PAMed bowl. Stop touching it until the rise is done or you need to do a fold. When you need to lift the dough out of the bowl, oil your hand, stick it to the bottom of the container, and just lift it out in one movement. None of the "little by little, tug here, tug there", know what you are trying to do, and do it with min handling. The less you touch the dough, the less the dough sticks. Hope it helps and good luck!

berryblondeboys's picture

hmmm... I flatten my dough during bulk rise to get a better idea of how much its grown. I have a KA bucket thingee in my head for getting really soon.

Maybe I'm just letting it grow in an inadvisable place? I let it grow in the 8 quart DLX stainless steel bowl. With oil or without, I get a ring around the bowl, wherever it has touched that I have to scrape out - probably 1 to 2 tablespoons worth of dough is clung/stuck to the sides?

I haven't tried dumping it out as that bowl isn't the easiest thing to handle with grace.

I'm usually a very confident person in the kitchen, but I don't like that I have to help my mixer all the time, don't like that I don't seem to ever get the right proofing (too much, too little). Window pane? forget it. It's close, but never there. Some things rise 3 times as fast as they shoud while others rise twice as slow as they should. I'm frustrated that there's no consistency in what I'm ending up with even when I feel I'm doing everything the same, every time.

I watch videos, I read tips here, I bake 3-4 times a week and I've never, ever had this problem with anything else I've attempted in the kitchen.

By most people's standards, my breads taste great and look great, but... I'm not achieving what I'm setting out to achieve - big air bubbles? Pfft.. right.

I haven't tried a sour bread yet because I can't get simpler ones right! Seriously frustrating.


But, back to the point of the post, I will try the scraper thingee and trying to dump it out versus pulling it out.

flournwater's picture

I can almost feel the pain in your words.  IMO, you're being too hard on yourself.  There are countelss factors that influence the outcome of a loaf of bread.  Our home kitchens are not controlled enviroonments.  Household humidity and temperature levels can vary dramatically, day to day (even hour by hour) and the slightest draft (even if you don't feel it) can affect how your dough reacts. 

Perhaps you have a dough scraper.  If you don't, the nylon dough scrapers you find in any good kitchen shop (mine are 6 inches and 9 inches respectively) are a great tool and they usually run somewhere between 1 - 2 dollars.

Richard Bertinet (if you haven't see his video you'll find it at might help you.  He isn't removing dough from an oiled bowl but the residue in his mixing bowl demonstrates how unimportant it is to get all the dough onto the counter.

proth5's picture

You mention that you make great cakes, but bread frustrates you.  I do a lot of confectionery work (and I used to bake cakes) and something occurred to me.

When you are dealing with cakes and candy, you are dealing with chemistry.  You've got to get your measurements and techniques right, but in general (for example) when the thermometer reads 230F (assuming you have calibrated for your altitude - learned that the hard way...) the sugar syrup is going to behave in a certain way.  It has to. You want to do everything the same every time because you are dealing with chemical reactions that work pretty much the same every time.

Making bread is dealing with a living being.  It's not a very clever living being, but it will respond more acutely to the environment simply because it has no choice.  So where with a cake you need to play by the rules, with bread you need to play a bit more by feel.  You can't do everything the same way.  Sometimes the dough isn't ready.  Sometimes it is ready too soon. (And when you get in to "advanced topics" you learn ways of dealing with this.) (Oh, and if you're sick of helping your mixer, try mixing by hand and see what you learn from that...)

I won't just say "relax" because I'm not that kind of person. Because you are dealing with a living being, though, control of the environment will be key.  The concept of "desired dough temperature" was eye opening for this old raggedy home baker.   I spent a time baking the same formula over and over - adjusting one factor (like the percent of pre fermented flour) until I got what I wanted.  My bread was never bad, either. What I needed to learn was how to control the environment so my yeasts acted in predictable ways.  I quote "my teacher" a lot and s/he really knows bread.  "My teacher" always sends me away with homework assignments (some with multi-year durations) the most valuable of which have been to mix up two slightly different doughs and work with them side by side to see how one factor makes a difference. For you.

OK, I'll tell a story that I usually say the world is not prepared for: I remember the "pre shaping" homework assignment.  I was instructed to try pre shaping at various levels of firmness - using the same dough - and evaluate how this impacted the ease of shaping and rolling baguettes.  I finally decided which - in my hands - worked the best. Many months later I returned to "my teacher's" side in an advanced class and one of the other students [a professional baker] looked at my pre shaping and remarked at how firmly, but gently I got the thing into shape.  "My teacher" came tearing over at that point and yelled "Who told you to pre shape like that!?" "I did." I explained, "You told me to experiment and find what works best for me."  "Oh," my teacher replied, "then you're doing it right."

'Nuf said.

berryblondeboys's picture

Thank you so much for your reply. I do (or at least I'm trying) to 'read' or feel the bread for everything, but it's not all coming together yet.

Of course, my kitchen temps are 'now' mostly stable, but we aren't big AC users, so there were times my kitchen was 76 and sometimes it was 80. Now it hovers between 70 and 73 (depending on how cold it is outside) and soon, it will hover around 68-70 (kitchen tends to stay warmer than adjoining areas.)

You know what I really need? Someone who knows the DLX mixer, who knows how to "really" bake bread and who would take the time to help in my kitchen with my stuff to walk me through it once (or twice). THis learning to bake bread on your own is like learning to knit on your own - not easy!


OK... I'll stop ranting - having a rough week or so - daily sinus headaches aren't helping me.

flournwater's picture

Proth5  -  While I believe there's a lot of chemistry in bread making, I fully admired your comparison of working with chemistry vs a living organism.  That's one of the more valid explanations I've read in a very long time.

ehanner's picture

This thread started out with your having a sticky dough problem. Now at the end you say the bowl is the 8 Qt DLX mixing bowl with straight sides. In general, I think this is a common problem with people trying to use the expensive equipment  we have all bought before we know what to expect. So, here is my suggestion that if followed will make you a more confident baker, quickly.

Set the beautiful DLX mixer aside for a while. You need to learn how to handle dough with your hands. Learn to feel with your fingers the strength of gluten pulling back at you. And yes, learn to pull a membrane into a perfect window pane.

Pick out a recipe that you would like to learn to do well, preferably a lean recipe without fat or other additions. Make sure the hydration is around 68% so the dough will be easy to handle.  Read up on how to adjust the dough temp by adjusting water temp. This is the single most important control item in bread making. The ideal dough temp is 78F.  In a large bowl, mix your ingredients until well combined and let it set covered for at least 30 minutes. Using your plastic spatula, do stretch and folds in the bowl as you turn the bowl. Start with10-15 stretches, cover and come back in 30 minutes for another series of stretch and fold in the bowl.

Now pull a membrane from the dough and try to gently pull it thin like a pane. If it tears, let rest covered for another hour and try the test again. You probably won't need another S&F.

Be gentle with the dough now. Divide and pre shape, rest for 10-15 minutes and set into your proofing couche or banneton until ready to bake. Bake as normal.

What I'm saying is that the need for a mixer is overstated. I own a DLX but my ability to produce good bread with it is based on what I know from mixing by hand. So try this by hand method and when your fingers learn how things are supposed to be, you can use that knowledge with a combination of mechanical mixer and folding. Controlling dough temperature is the single most important aspect of bread making. Too cold and there is slow activity. Too warm and things happen fast and the bread is tasteless.

I hope this helps you. I hear frustration in your words. If you learn to make small batches in a controlled fashion, you will find consistency. You will trust your process and expect good results. Let me know if you have questions.


berryblondeboys's picture

Eric, I started with bread by hand. Now, not 3 times a week, but at least once a month. Even now, I'll knead by hand sometimes (as can be seen in my profile picture with my 5 year old son.) because I like how it feels. It doesn't seem to matter if it's by hand or by machine - I don't seem to get it right. Actually, by hand I think I tend to do more harm because I have more sticking issues as I am trying not to get my dough too stiff.

But, I will do the two breads I've been 'mostly' doing recently and see if by hand improves things.


And really, I think my frustrations with life right now is pouring into these messages. Daily headaches with sinus problems, my husband and I haven't had a good evening (alone) for eons, and we're coming upon 1 year of living with my mother in law who does NOTHING to help. She's been in the house with us since December and has not made a SINGLE meal - just shows up for dinner and goes back after it's done... she's healthy (mostly). I wasn't quite expecting to be taking on more work - but maybe getting a bit of help.  So... that I can't get this bread thing down is bumming me out because I love creating things and I love the art of it, but... my art is leaving me disappointed. And with 5 people in the house, we go through about 5-7 loaves of bread a week. Fighting with my DLX is not makign me any happier and the idea of kneading by hand bread when I'm constantly fighting a headache is pretty unappealing.

LindyD's picture

Take a break from the bread baking, if only for a week.  Makes no sense to do something if it makes you unhappy and stressed.  

If you don't want to buy bread for a week, make a batch of the AB in five, toss the dough in the cooler, and use that.  Heck, teach your kids how to do it. 

Sounds as if you need some time for yourself; a visit to a doc for those sinus issues would be helpful.

Finally, let your MIL watch the kids while you and hubby go to a movie. 

Superwoman is a myth - we're all human.  ;-)

Janknitz's picture

Do you round and smooth your dough before dropping it into the bowl? If not, I suggest you do. Smooth tight surface has less chance to stick.

Even with a very wet dough, you need to round and smooth it first as much as you can.  In some parlances, it's described as pulling a "gluten cloak" around the dough.  Another way to say it is to stretch the skin of the dough around to the bottom--it's almost like a very thin balloon around the dough.  Sometimes a VERY light dusting of flour will help with this and it won't affect the texture or hydration of the dough.  I'm sure there are videos showing how.  

If you just plop kneaded dough into the bowl without pulling it into a ball first, it's almost guaranteed to stick because the gluten strands will attach themselves to whatever is handy--like an alien blob attaching to the sides of the bowl.  By "rounding" the dough, you are containing the gluten strands within the "skin" of the dough itself.  If that skin adheres to the sides of the bowl, it's easy enough to pull it away with a dough scraper and you won't have long. gluey strands of gluten stuck to the bowl in most cases.  

I use an oil sprayer (available at kitchen stores for about $10, you fill it with your own oil and you pump it to build up pressure to spray a fine mist of oil)  to spray my proofing bowl very lightly, and then gently place the rounded ball of dough in, smooth side down to spin it around and get a VERY light coating of oil all over the dough.  Then I turn the dough smooth side up to rise.  This way, the top of the rising dough won't stick to the plastic shower cap I cover the bowl with, either.   This is not enough oil to affect the texture of the crust or interfere with subsequent stretch and folds or "punching down" (which I almost never do anymore).  

berryblondeboys's picture

So many little details. I basically need to make a boule shape to let it rise? That I can do - just never knew. Thanks! That's why I love this site!

Janknitz's picture

 I basically need to make a boule shape to let it rise? That I can do - just never knew

Yes, that's it. 

For measuring the rise, just judge by level of the top of the boule--though it will spread out some as it rises. 

Felila's picture

It takes a while to get a feel for the dough.

I stopped turning the bread out into another oiled bowl after kneading. Why use two bowls when one will do? I just pour some oil (somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon) over the freshly-kneaded dough, pull out the dough hook and throw it in some prepared soapy water to soak, grab the dough with my clean fingers, and gather it into a ball while smooshing it around in the oil on the bottom of the bowl. If there are any big chunks of dough on the sides of the bowl, I scrape them down with my fingernails and put them inside the ball of dough. I turn the dough around a few times to make sure that it and the bowl are all oily, then put a lid on the bowl and leave it for an hour. There are thin smears of dough on the side of the bowl, but so what?

I have to be fast and bold, because I'm making high-hydration ciabatta and it's extremely gloppy at first. After an hour, the gluten has developed a little more. I do the stretch and fold, let it rise for another hour, and then take it out of the bowl to stretch and fold and shape into boules, for the last rise. 

Just keep on baking and you'll learn to tell when the dough looks and feels right, and how to handle it.

P.S. If you're having sinus problems, I strongly recommend a neti pot. Google neti pot and read up on it. I make up my own saline, use a neti pot once a day, and have stopped having sinus infections. Note that some people just can't STAND the whole process. You may be one of them -- but it's worth trying the neti pot to find out.



Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...ran out of PAM-type spray and oiled my loaf pans with a little oilive oil on a paper towel.  After baking, I left 1/3 of the loaves stuck to the pans.  I think the towel left too little oil on the pan and that's probably the case with rising vessels also.  I now either spray (best for me) or wipe the oil on containers with my fingers.  Pam and parchment paper are essentials for me.

The key to anything is having fun while you do it.


berryblondeboys's picture

I don't use pam as I'm a pretty "natural" gal. Plus, it ruined, years ago, my analon pans - which I read later it said not to use. They leave a sticky residue.

I used a paper towel and my fingers to grease the bowl with canola oil (I know, many people don't like canola oil).


msgenie516's picture

to grease my bowls.  But I use Crisco for the grease instead of oil.  I'm no expert but it seems to work well as my "balls" of dough usually just drop out of the bowl when I invert it.  Hope this helps!  Genie

Janknitz's picture

It has ruined too many baking vessels--it leaves a brown, sticky residue after baking. 

The atomosphere does not need any more propellants or cans in the landfill.  I love my refillable oil sprayer and it saves money, too. 

For baking pans (i.e. loaf pans), I use Wilton's cake release.  A little goes a long way and it doesn't leave a residue.