The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading Wet Doughs

Curious Baker's picture
Curious Baker

Kneading Wet Doughs

I have worked in bakeries for two years, but have only begun baking at home more recently. In attempting to adapt some the recipes I know to home baking, I've had trouble getting the gluten development needed, especially for wet doughs.

I mixed a ~70% hydration dough (100% white bread flour), and tried to knead the dough by slapping against the counter, folding, repeat (a method I learned from Nancy Silverton's "Breads from La Brea Bakery"). I kept the dough from sticking by spraying the counter with water, but I had to keep spraying, and I'm worried that I ended up with a dough closer to 75% hydration. After something like 8 minutes the dough was still not strong enough.

When making high hydration doughs without a mixing machine, do you recommend less kneading and more S&F/bulk fermentation? Or are there any good methods for hand kneading wet doughs?


BreadBro's picture

Wet doughs benefit from long, slow rises. Letting your dough sit and doing stretch and folds at 40 minute increments can help develop a strong gluten structure. You can also allow it to rise 12-18 hours in the fridge, which will also help develop good structure.

isand66's picture

Agree 100% with above which is exactly what I do.  I mix for 6 minutes in my mixer on low and then do S&F's and put in fridge overnight.

For your stiff dough issue use cooking spray like PAM on your counter and you won't be adding any water.

Curious Baker's picture
Curious Baker

Thanks for the comments. I forgot to mention that I autolysed 20 minutes before adding salt, then kneaded around 8 minutes, then did two S&F with 40 minutes in between. Next time I'm going to try oiling the counter, do a bit less kneading, and do some more S&F until the dough is strong enough. The bread turned out delicious anyway, although it didn't get much oven spring at all. I have no pictures, sadly, because it is all gone.