The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sourdough challah dough really sticky?

coffeemachine's picture

sourdough challah dough really sticky?

I just mixed up a batch of Maggie Glezer's sourdough challah using the recipe posted by zolablue. In her post, she stated that 


This dough is very firm and should feel almost like modeling clay. If the dough is too firm to knead easily, add a tablespoon or two of water to it; if it seems too wet, add a few tablespoons flour.



The dough should feel smooth and very firm but be easy to knead.




However, my dough turned out to be a sticky mess -- more or less like a brioche dough -- before I finally gave up and added a cup (possibly more) of flour to it. I double checked to make sure I used large, not jumbo, eggs and weighed all the other ingredients. But the consistency of modeling clay?? I would say that my dough is still softer than that even after the addition of flour, but at least it more or less would stay off of my hands now. I know quite a few of you out there have done the MG sourdough challah. How sticky/firm was your dough?




Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

My dough is pretty sticky, too.  I have made the recipe with at least 1/3 whole wheat and it is still sticky.  Also, the braid strands tend to kind of 'melt' into each other and do not stay as distinct as those from a regular dough.  After a couple of attempts, I put these loaves into a pan instead of having freeform loaves.

Still, it is delicious, and a nice change from lean sourdough!

Mary Clare

coffeemachine's picture

Thanks, Mary Clare! Good to know that I'm not the only one with a sticky dough. I haven't baked it yet, but the raw dough already smells delicious =)

clazar123's picture

If you follow zolablues thread you will see the following response from her about halfway down:

"L_M, this was very easy to knead.  I did do something kind of silly though.  Glezer didn't say to dust the counter with flour so I thought perhaps this needed to be done without.  Nope, that stuff was sticky especially trying to add in the levain!  (duh)  What I ended up doing is using fraisage to incorporate the levain into the dough mixture since my hands were already a sticky mess.  After I scraped that off and dusted the counter for kneading it sure was easier.  Kind of funny but all part of the learning.  

My dough was not really as firm as modeling clay but it somehow just felt right to me. I would say firm but pliable. I didn't want to get too much extra flour in it and you have to add a bit while you roll up the strands and then elongate them.  My dough may have been a bit stickier than should have been during braiding but I just kept going.  It really was very easy to work with and braid."

So it sounds like the dough needs to be handled like a high hydration dough.Richard Bertinet has a video on hand mixing a dough like this. I think it is linked in the videos at the top of this page.It is truly amazing to see him take a sticky mass that sticks to everything and turn it into a smooth,velvety dough-without adding any additional flour!

coffeemachine's picture

Ah, should've read the whole post =P. I did try Richard Bertinet's slap and fold technique though, soon as i found out that the dough was really sticky. But I didn't end up with smooth dough after 10min... So I ended up throwing flour at the problem.

coffeemachine's picture

I finally got around to bake this baby, and it turned out really well despite the dough being a lot stickier than Maggie Glezer had described!

Maggie Glezer Sourdough Challah


I didn't even lose much of the definition in the braids =). Okay, I didn't exactly follow Glezer's instructions as in: 


1. I tossed the dough in the fridge to bulk ferment for ~2days

2. Shaped the loaf and roll while the dough was still cold

3. Tossed the shaped dough back in the fridge for ~2 more days to rise, and

4. Took the dough out of the fridge 30min before baking, so the dough was still cold when it went into the oven.


I didn't intend to let the dough spend so much time in the refrigerator, but couldn't find time to babysit dough. So it ended up waiting in the fridge. I think the cold helped with sticking problems during braiding, as well as with the braids retaining shape. Yay, maybe good things do come to those who wait. =)

mhjoseph's picture

When I make this I find that modeling clay is a very apt description. With any challah recipe I've learned to start out with a couple of ounces less water than called for and add more as needed after mixing a bit. For some reason in challah making it's very easy to get a soupy dough. Perhaps it's the fact that eggs are inconsistent in volume.