The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sticky loaves

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ngolovin's picture

Sticky loaves

I am new to bread making.  Made several hearth and loaf pan loaves with good success.  The last few loaves I have baked came out sticky.  The knife was gummed up with the bread.  The bread looked done, but was sticky and gummy.  I didn't change anything I am aware of (temperature, bake time, recipe, batch of flour).  I am looking for ideas of what I might be doing wrong.  Is the change of weather a factor?  My first loaves were made in the summer, and it is now getting a little cooler here in the Indianapolis area.  Thanks to all, in advance.

cranbo's picture

Your bread sounds most likely underbaked. It's also possible it was underproofed. 

What's your recipe? That helps with troubleshooting. Photos of crust and crumb help too. 

You say you baked several hearth and loaf pan loaves, were these with exactly the same recipe, or did you tweak anything?

How did you check that your bread was sufficiently proofed?

Next time:

  1. Try checking the internal temp of the bread with a digital instant-read thermometer, should read 210-215F when done. 
  2. Let your bread rest 30 min before slicing. 

Weather might be a factor, but I'm guessing it was something else. Rule out everything else first before thinking about weather. 

ngolovin's picture

Hi Cranbo,

Thanks for the response.  On thinking about things, I did tried adding some vital wheat gluten to a whole wheat recipe in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Other than that, no tinkering.  I like the two or three recipes I use.  I will admit I do not own a thermometer for testing.  I use the "tap the bottom" method for done-ness. 


On question I have - how do you know if you have underproofed the dough?  I usually wait, how ever long, for the dough to roughly double in bulk for most breads (not so much for bagels, but I don't have this problem with the bagels, either).


I appreciate you taking the time to respond.  Thanks for your input.  It has given this tyro something to think on.



cranbo's picture

On question I have - how do you know if you have underproofed the dough?  I usually wait, how ever long, for the dough to roughly double in bulk for most breads (not so much for bagels, but I don't have this problem with the bagels, either).\

Roughly double in bulk is good, slightly less than doubled is even better. The poke test (poking with your finger and seeing how the dough springs back) is the best indicator available to check whether dough is ready to bake, aside from measuring (or visually observing) the change in dough volume. There are more detailed descriptions about this elsewhere on TFL, so just search for "poke test". 

You will know your dough is underproofed if:

  • You get crust bursting near the bottom or sides of the loaf
  • Your crust is pale or poorly colored. 
  • Your bread is dense and gummy.
If you have this problem again, take pictures of your crust and crumb and share them here, will be much easier for all of us to troubleshoot. Wheat gluten can cause some gumminess, but if it's in small quantity I highly doubt that's the problem. 
Chuck's picture

...The bread looked done...

"Color" is a relatively lousy way to judge the doneness of a bake; below are some ideas about better ways. (It's quite possible your bread was always very close to the edge of underbaked, previously you were on the good side of the edge, but just a slight change has moved your baking to the bad side of edge.)

  • Several decades ago the most common seems to have been the "thump test": rap on the bottom with your knuckles and don't turn the oven off until it sounds hollow.
  • More recently, the most common method seems to be the more accurate (but still not perfect) measurement of internal crumb temperature: shove an "instant read" thermometer into the loaf so the probe tip is in the very center of the loaf, and look for 205F-210F for "lean" breads.
  • Even watching the clock and baking for the "same time as last time" works pretty well  ...once you get close enough that "last time" is something you want to repeat:-)

In my younger years (before I lost most of the rest of my sense of smell), I'd just leave the bread in the oven until all the rooms near the kitchen were filled with that "warm bready beery smell", and then take the loaves out.

Bread is fairly forgiving of over-baking. An extra five or ten minutes is nowhere near enough to dry it out (let alone burn it). Bread is not fairly forgiving of under-baking though. Ten minutes too little, and it can be so doughy inside it's inedible.

If the crust is getting too dark, cover it with tinfoil and keep baking. (The darkness of the crust mostly tells you about how much sugar and/or malt is in the recipe and how hot the oven is; it doesn't tell you much about the crumb [inside] of the bread.)