The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sticky and tacky crumb

Xelanon's picture

Sticky and tacky crumb

Recipe as follows: 

100g whole wheat flour

400g strong bread flour

300g water

10g salt + 15g water

100g starter

I mixed the starter, water and flours together. After 1hr autolyse, then added salt and the remaining 15g water. 

I was rushing out of the house, so I popped the dough into the fridge as I was afraid it would overproof (around 5 hours).

Performed 3 sets S&F (after allowing it to rest at room temperature for 15 mins) followed by 30 mins final proof and baked it. 

Dough was inextensible when when trying to stretch and fold, and was shiny and wet throughout. I also felt hard lumps when trying S&F - could it be because I did not mix well during autolyse?

It was a sticky mess- impossible to shape, so it spread out on the baking tray. 

It also rose very quickly during the final proof but collapsed when I tried to get it out of the proofing basket.

Dough was so sticky I could not score it 


As with all loaves I baked, it turned out flat. The biggest problem was the crumb. It was sticky and moist. 

BakersRoom's picture

Thank you for your post.  It was very challenging and made me really have to think and look at your bread several times before I reached a diagnosis.  

The thing is, your bread looks well fermented, but that's only because of the low level of gluten development.  A bread of 66% hydration shouldn't have that level of looseness and openness.  It should be a little tight and stiff, like this:


Whatever you did to mix the salt in wasn't enough, then in the fridge for 5 hours, the dough probably got 2-2.5 hours of fermentation time before the yeast got too cold.  So in short, your bread is underfermented, but doesn't really look like it because the gluten is so loose.  The telltale sign of this is the crust of your bread.  It has no quality of roundness, which tells me there isn't enough tension, hence not enough gluten strength. 

This is why the dough is inextensible, impossible to shape or score, and deflating when you move it to the peel.  

So, I recommend the following changes to your procedure: 

1. Mix EVERYTHING, salt, all the water, starter, flour, all of it.  Mix it good.  No dry spots.  Get in there with your hands until the dough feels consistent.  Then wait one hour.  

2. Knead the dough.  Kneading stiff dough is basically like stretch and folds.  Do stretch and folds for 2-3 minutes, until the dough looks smooth. 

3. Ferment at ROOM TEMPERATURE (78 degrees) for 4 hours.  

4.  Preshape your dough with a bench knife, or just by stretch and folding it into a loose ball. Cover and rest 1 hour. 

5. Shape.  I recommend a batard, but do what you feel. 

6. Immediately Refrigerate for 18 hours, OR proof at room temp 4 hours.  

7. Bake 425 covered for 20 minutes, uncovered for 30-35.

That should get you the results you're looking for.  I've never seen anything but problems when people. try to refrigerate their dough before the bulk begins.  

Good luck!


Xelanon's picture

Thanks for your comment! I’ll implement them in my next sourdough baking...hopefully it will turn out as nicely as yours!



BakersRoom's picture

It will.  Stiff dough is very easy to handle and hard to mess up if you follow the procedure.  Good luck!