The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Problems baking with sourdough

sugargil74's picture

Problems baking with sourdough

Hi everyone! I'm an amateur baker from Madrid based in London for the last four months or so. Although I had been baking for a few months before leaving, it was when I arrived here that I started using ONLY SOURDOUGH as rising agent. I like the idea of making 100% natural bread (or nearly, since I can't afford buying organic flour) and I find that the bread tastes much better. However, I must say that I am having a hard time trying to give my loaves the look and texture that they should have. Basically, the biggest problem is that the doughs I get are so sticky that they are really hard to knead and practically impossible to shape, so either I bake them inside a hob or they come out shapeless (it is also impossible to cut them). They do rise in the oven, but not as much as they do when they are well formed. I have the feeling that the problem is about an excess of water in the dough, but I wonder if it is in the sourdough itself, because I'm always quite careful to keep the proportions of the classical white wheat loaf recipe (60%water-100% flour). If that is the case, I would appreciate some tips to get a good sourdough in a humid climate such as England has. I also wonder if it's something to do with fermentation times, which also vary depending on temperature. Finally, as you can see in one of the pictures, the crust is actually "not very crusty" since I make bread this way. Is it always so with sourdough bread? I would appreciate some guidance to understand these bugs a little better :)

cranbo's picture

Hmm. No pictures here, maybe you forgot to post them?

If you are actually using 60% total hydration for your loaf, it will NOT be sticky to knead. My guess is that your loaf is not 60% hydration because of the hydration of the starter you are using is higher than 60%. If you maintain your starter hydration at 60% and your dough hydration at 60% it should be very easy (and not sticky) to knead.

Sourdough loaves are naturally slightly stickier but not impossibly so. They do get stickier as they ferment. 

For all very wet, sticky doughs, use the stretch and fold (S&F) technique to "knead", i.e., to develop your dough. Search these forums for instructions on this technique.


adri's picture


could you post your recipe. It is easier to help if we know what you are doing.