The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough becomes sticky

devinboiii's picture

Dough becomes sticky

I'm so lost on how to knead by hand. I can do it just fine, and have the techniques down, but every time I knead by hand, my dough becomes unbearably sticky, to my hands and my work surface. 

I make sure my hands are perfectly dry and when I knead with, say, a fork, the dough remains perfectly normal and only sticks to itself. How can I fix this problem? 

jimbtv's picture

We've all been there so be patient. It will get better.

Without knowing the hydration of your formula it is hard to know how "wet" the dough really is. Without some direction on the source of your flour it is hard to know if it will absorb the amount of water you have introduced. If you can provide more information we might be able to help you better.

In lieu of those details let me provide some general suggestions. Gluten forms in bread dough over time so the longer the fermentation the easier it is to work the dough... to a point. If you are hoping to knead an 80% hydration dough in the first hour you are going to need some pretty good skills. The better plan is to accept a rough mix of the ingredients (shaggy) and let them rest for a while. After an hour it will be easier and an hour later it will be easier still.

Do not overwork the dough. Dump it out onto a lightly floured surface, sprinkle a little flour on the top surface, loosen the dough from the work surface with a bench knife, and do a series of stretch and folds. YouTube is your friend if you would like to see how folks do this. Moistening your hands in water can help release the dough through this process. You will feel the gluten tighten-up as you do this and when you really cannot stretch it anymore, make a round out of the dough and place it back in the bowl.

I recommend that you visit Trevor Wilson's website: www.breadwerx. com and view his many videos. He has a video on handling wet dough that you should find helpful.

I used to anguish over dough stuck to the hairs on my hands and never thought I'd get past that point. After handling dough successfully for a while now I never, never have dough stuck to my hands. You will develop the same techniques with practice too.