The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from Oklahoma and help!

chuckberry's picture

Hello from Oklahoma and help!

Hey all, brand spankin' new to baking my own bread. I will get the dumb questions out of the way, so maybe I can move on to better bread.

What is the best surface to shape, fold, ...... bread on? I am currently just using a wooden cutting board, but my dough sticks to it so badly. Which leads me to question 2. Am I not using enough flour if the dough is sticking to everything ie; board, spoon, hands?



balabusta's picture

My family always knows when I've been baking bread because, in addition to the wonderful aroma that fills the house, I leave a tell-tale trail of dough marks everywhere, from the kitchen sink faucet to the cabinet pulls.

Some doughs are harder to work with than others.  A firm dough, for instance, is very forgiving and easy to work with.  An extensible dough works like batter.  Rye flour is only for the intrepid.

A few things can help. First, after you mix flour, water, and yeast, let the mixture rest for about 20 - 30 minutes.  This process is called autolyse.  The flour absorbs the water (or maybe it's the other way around), but I find the dough is less sticky.  Next, try keeping a bowl of cold water nearby to dunk your fingers.  The water on your fingers create a barrier to the dough.  Also, and I just saw this on a Ciril Hitz dvd, try wearing surgical-type gloves.  I thought this was particularly clever. 

With a wood board, be careful about over flouring the surface because you'll end up adding too much flour to your dough. There's a good introductory video stream at(  Click on the video tag, and on the search page look in the chef section for Danielle Forestier. Danielle demonstrates how to knead, shape, and fold on a flat surface.

Personally, my favorite work surface is granite.  Many years ago, when I lived in a teeny tiny NJ house, I bought a granite slab to put on top of my formica counter.   Enjoy your bread baking!


Floydm's picture


Less porous surfaces than wood work better, I believe: the dough doesn't stick as much and you can use a dough scraper to peel any sticking off.

I have a cheap plastic cutting board that I work on. I've definitely heard that granite or marble are even nicer to work with.

Sticky is good, if you are shooting for rustic style breads. I used to use a lot of flour to keep it from sticking to my hands when folding and shaping my breads. Lately I've been using water and found the results better.

mij.mac's picture

The biggest danger when you rely on flour to stop dough sticking is you end up with bricks. Dough sticks. This is just a fact you have to work with. I don't 'knead' my breads at all. Mix everything in the bowl as normal, but instead of kneading the dough and adding more flour. Cover it with film and leave it for an hour. Then Stick you hands in scraping the dough from the sides and stretch the dough out, fold it over and repeat until the dough resists you. You'll feel it change very quickly. Then cover it again. You can get round the aeration thing if you feel you need to by aerating the water before it goes in at the beginning. I use a natural leaven so I get quite a bit of foam, you won't with just water but you will still be getting the air in to get the yeast multiplying. Course, if you add enough yeast at the start you don't need to think about that. I wouldn't touch wood while handling my dough, you need something that isn't going to suck the moisture out of your dough. Marble, plastic, resin.
When it comes to shaping you will need to flour your work top enough to stop the dough sticking, you don't want to go scraping dough that is being shaped if you can help it. Dough that has been stretched needs a rest afterwards so only stretch when you intend to.