The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dry dough

KreGg's picture

Dry dough

Hey guys, I'm new to the forum, but I've been following it for much more time.

So, quickly, my question is, why is my dough never looking like the ones I see on books or videos on youtube? I am quite frustrated :(

I think my dough is too dry on the surface. Unfortunately I don't have pictures right now, but plan on taking some next time.

I just baked a bread and I was fighting against the dough. First I think I put too much water and it was really wet. I let it rise like this anyway, but then, as I tried to preshape and shape it, I found it was too wet to form anything with this consistence that we see on pictures.

So I had to sprinkle flour over it, and then try and turn and fold the dough by hand. But it was still glueing all over. After letting it proof, some parts of the dough was too dry, stiff, and the inside stil wet and gluey.

I could not really shape it, creating the necessary surface tension. If I put any pressure with my hands, then the dough would completely stick to it. Not at all smooth. Due to this, it was kinda collapsing.

Well, I think the real problem is that it was too wet and instead of fixing it before fermenting, I tried to fix it after, by adding flour by hand (thus not mixing it properly).

Any soothing words for me? hehe

linder's picture

Hi KreGg,

Could you post your recipe/formula for the bread you are making?  That would help so we can see the percentage hydration of your recipe and be more helpful in determining the problem and possible solutions.



KreGg's picture

Hello Linda,

the recipe I followed this last time was from the book "Baking Artisan Bread" by Ciril Hitz.

But I changed some stuff. I used 400g of flour. The recipe calls for 200g of water. But after putting 200g I felt it was really dry. So I put a bit more.. and a bit more (maybe 40g). And then it was quite wet.

The yeast was about 1.5g and salt 8g. That was it.


I am baking it right now. It's looking quite bad in the oven haha I'm gonna take pictures after it's baked and post it here, so at least you can see the baked monster.

linder's picture

 Can you post Hitz' original recipe?  Thanks


LindyD's picture

double post

LindyD's picture

Chef Hitz uses preferments for the breads listed in his book.  Which recipe are you using?

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

I think it is good advice to follow recipes exactly until you have the experience to experiment.

That said, which recipe in the book? There are several recipes with significant errors. There is a link to the errata at: You might want to check that before changing anything else.

400 gr flour and 200 gr of water gives 50% hydration, hard to even get all the flour wet with this. If you really added 40 gr of water that would take you to 240/400 = 60% hydration which is definately not a wet dough, but enough to make certain breads. The only way I can think that 400 gr flour with 240 gr water would be real wet would be if the flour was something far different than usually used. What brand/type of flour did you use?

It can be frustrating getting started but this is a great place to get help. Be sure to post photos.


KreGg's picture

EDIT: Maybe, thinking about it, I'm being just a bit too impatient? Sometimes I feel like it's either too dry or too stiff after just a little bit. Maybe I gotta let the flour get more hydrated before thinking it's not gonna work?


I tried the first baguette one.

Instead of using a preferment, I used a long cold fermentation, overnight.

The original recipe called for: Poolish (200g-200g flour-water, and a pinch of yeast)

Then: 400g flour, 200g water, 1.5 yeast, 12g salt


I just sprinkled some pumpkin seeds on the bottom and sesame on top. I baked it on a stone. Here some pictures of it baked... embarrassing. - BOTH BREADS - From the top - How much they (did not) rise - Crumb shot #1 - Crumb shot #2



linder's picture

Not all that bad.  But I think you need to use the preferment in this dough.  It will add hydration, flavor, better gluten development with less kneading and more extensibility to the dough, allowing for a more open crumb.  You can play with the amount of yeast in the preferment to make it ripen faster, say in 3 hours instead of overnight by using 6 times the amount called for in the preferment formula, if you must.

Due to the long overnight ferment of the final dough, the amount of yeast in the final dough used up all the sugars in the dough (starches converted to sugars during fermentation) which accounts for the pale dusty looking crust.

Hope this helps. 


KreGg's picture

hmm I think it might have looked better on the pics than in real life hehe

I just tried with another brand of flour. I'm living in Brazil right now, it's an all purpose flour. I am trying a new bread, and trying to use the autolyse method.

So I did some testing. This is what I get with 50% hydration (360g flour - 180g water):

Completely dry, flaky texture.

So I pumped up the water, to 60%:

Better, but still quite dry. Could finally get most of the flour into a unit, but still lots of flour on the bottom not mixed. And the dough feels completely dry.

Then I put water till 66,6% (240g water), and suddenly, I got a much wetter dough:


But is this how the dough should be looking on the autolyse phase? And is it supposed to be so dry on 60% hydration?


linder's picture

Not to sound obnoxious, but I think as a new baker you would be best served by picking a recipe, following the instructions to the letter and seeing what results you get before experimenting. 

As for autolyse, 60% is still a fairly dry dough,  the dough will rest in the bowl anywhere from 20 minutes to a whole day depending on the recipe's instructions.  It won't look so great at first, but as it sits, the dough begins to develop gluten and starts to relax and look more bread-doughlike.


KreGg's picture

So I tried today the bread that I mixed yesterday.

What I did was an autolyse for 30 minutes, with 66% hydration dough. Stretches and folds 4 times, 30 minutes each and then refrigerate overnight.

Baked today on the top oven (smaller, so I think it bakes more even) pretty much as the way I baked my last one.

Today's bread was that much better. I tried to not encorporate flour late in the process. I let it proof on a couche, so it would retain the shape a bit better.

Still lots of little mistakes... and scoring is still a big problem. But this gave me new hopes...

Here some pictures. What you think?


Crumb shot:


dwfender's picture

I'm going to second everyones opinion that you should try a full recipe to set a benchmark. You can't really go by feel until you've done it enough times to do it with your eyes closed. I've been baking for years and I rarely mess around with the recipes; I have very good and consistent results. 

Two things I learned as a beginner:
- The dough will always seem dryer than it needs to be before you knead it. As you knead and work the dough and as the dough sits longer and longer the flour absorbs the moisture. It's a slow process and not an obvious one. If your percentages are correct the dough will even out over time and the texture will change dramatically.

- Gluten development is more important than it seems and hard to judge without experience. Once the gluten is developed it's difficult to add more or less flour successfully, which is why you want to have a solid recipe to start with. Developing the gluten will help you realize what the hydration of the dough feels and looks like, it will help keep your shape during the bake and it will help develop the crumb and oven spring we all look for in a successful loaf.

Your loaves also look rather dull in color. This can be for a few reasons. Mainly, I would look into your baking temperature, how much flour you are using on the outside of the dough during shaping (doesn't look like a lot) and how long your fermentation is.

All in all, you aren't that far off from making a decent loaf. You seem to have some crumb going, which is great. Usually it takes a looong time for people to steer away from dense bricks :) Good luck.


lazybaker's picture

Maybe start out with a bowl of water and gradually add in the flour and mix. That way, you don't end up with dry bits of dough. Or you can start out with a bowl of flour, make a well in the center and fill the well with liquid and then start mixing and gradually add flour from the surrounding well.

I agree that it definitely takes time for the flour to absorb the water. At first the dough will look dry. But after a few minutes of kneading, the dough will start to get damp.