The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first sourdough loaf - is sticky dough normal?

GoingUp2JC's picture

My first sourdough loaf - is sticky dough normal?

Hi!  I created a sourdough starter a week ago using SourdoLady's instructions and this morning I used the recipe for "Overnight Whole Grain Sourdough with Wheat, Spelt, & Rye" from this website to make my first sourdough loaf.  The recipe doesn't say when to knead it so I kneaded it after I mixed all the ingredients together.  (By the way I don't have spelt so I used 1 cup of bread flour instead.)  The dough was very sticky so I kept adding more and more wheat flour.  Is that normal?  It's still kind of sticky (I've just mixed it together so it hasn't had time to rise yet)...should I add more flour and keep kneading until it's no longer sticky?  Or is it supposed to be kind of tacky?  Sorry if this is a silly question but I am just now learning.  Thanks for any help!!

mrfrost's picture

Here's some videos for working with high hydration(wet) sourdoughs.

Good luck.

GoingUp2JC's picture

That's very helpful; thank you!

placebo's picture

I'd resist the temptation to add very much flour. Since you're using whole grain flours, the dough might just need more time to absorb the water. By adding extra flour early on, you might have a dough that's easier to handle in the beginning but one that ends up being too dry later on. You might try letting the dough rest for short time after the initial mixing and before you knead.

Also, I've found sourdoughs tend to be stickier than doughs made with commercial yeast. If you feel it's too sticky in comparison to non-sourdough doughs, it might actually be normal.


kallisto's picture
kallisto (not verified)

I've attended a baking courses a few weeks ago. The teacher said, that dough consisting of rye flour always sticks.

It's a thing you cannot avoid.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

feel more sticky than normal tacky... to name a few...    rye flour (stickiness will increase noticeably as amount increases against wheat)  oat flour,  cooked or flaked potato...   I'm sure there are others.   Dough always is just a little bit "sticky" or "tacky" because it loves us.  Yup, hard to believe.  Salt can also be a factor.  Salt tightens protein bonds as soon as it is added and most often if you are using the same recipe over and over again and notice it is unusually sticky, taste the dough to see if you forgot the salt.  It is important to develop gluten with glutinous flours.   As gluten develops, stickiness declines and it does this without additional flour.   Then again as fermenting progresses, the dough will get stickier as the yeast takes it toll on the gluten structure of the dough.  

The trick to working dough is to be quicker with touching it than the dough can touch hug us back.  (Tag, you're it!)  I find that if doughs are being really loving (sticky) rub a very thin coat of oil on your hands and then touch flour or water first before working the dough.   Try quicker movements when working the dough so the dough has less a chance to adhere to the skin.  I find that the stickier the dough, the less skin contact I have with it.  I also try to get any sticking dough off my fingers as soon as possible by rubbing them with just a little bit of flour before going back to touching the dough.  Very wet doughs get just my finger tips whereas stiffer wheat doughs get the ball and even the palm of my hand.  

Heavy rye sourdoughs are one of the stickiest but I love them and they get my whole hand.  My hand is kept damp.   Not even rye paste sticks to them.



GoingUp2JC's picture

Thanks for me helping me out!  My loaf came out pretty yummy even though I messed it up so I can't wait to taste how good the next one will be when I follow these tips!  I just had no idea what the texture of the dough was supposed to feel like but I'll keep working on it!