Sticky sticky dough
Hi, I'm new here :)
I've been making commercially leavened bread for many years, and last summer decided that sourdough sounded like a fun new challenge. A friend gave me some of her "impossible to kill" starter and instructions, and I eventually bought Ken Forkish's book (which she recommended).
I've made about 3 successful batches in a year :(
The starter is still plenty lively, and I weigh all of my ingredients. I use the same brand of flour as my friend (King Arthur, a mix of whole wheat and all purpose). But when I follow the instructions to a T, the dough becomes unmanageably sticky.
Really, truly unmanageable. I've tried flouring my hands, wetting my hands with cold water, and coating them with vegetable oil. I still end up washing what feels like half the dough down the drain after it adheres to my hands and arms, not to mention what I scrape off the work surface afterwards.
I've tried doubling the number of folds I do, then tripling. It's still so wet/ loose/ sticky that I can't even shape the boules. I feel like I could stand there and fold all night with the same results.
The resulting bread looks over-proved-- big, collapsed air pockets, dense on the bottom, and very little rise. I'm following the schedule set out in Forkish's book, and have tried in both summer and winter (my house temperature varies quite a bit seasonally), with and without refrigeration.
The ONLY way I've gotten successful batches is by adding nearly double the weight of (raw) flour, and kneading the bread "punch and turn" style instead of folding. I've heard that both these things are big No-Nos in the world of sourdough, and I'd like to figure out what I'm doing wrong so I can make the bread traditionally!
Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated-- I'm frustrated to the point where I'm about to compost my starter, which seems like a shame for such a hardy breed/ blend of yeast!