The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My dough is sticky and doesn't rise

ihlegann_'s picture

My dough is sticky and doesn't rise

Hi, I am very very new at bread making. I am using active dry yeats at the moment while my starter becomes active. 


Here is my recipe and progress. 

480g flour

2 cups of 90F-110F water

1 packet of active dry yeast 

1 TBS salt 


When I combine all my ingredients, its ALWAYS sticky, so I add flour slowly until it gets to where i want it. Ive tired to just keep mixing and kneading but it always stays sticky until I add flour.

I cover for 2 hours 

When I come back, its sticky again

2 hour rise

1 hour rise 

into a hot oven at 425F

cook for 30 min 

cook for 15 min with lid off


Crust is very very hard and almost burnt tasting. Crumb is very dense and it doesn't rise well. Please over-explain things because I dont know what im doing! haha 

idaveindy's picture

Assuming you're using All Purpose or Bread flour....

You're using too much water.  Start out with 1.5 cups water, and work from there. 

Your water is too hot at 110 F.   75 to 85 F is better. No more than 85 F , or it will start to kill off yeast.

"Active dry" yeast needs hydrated first. (Instant or "bread-machine" or "fast rise" yeast does not.) So soak your active dry yeast in 1/4 cup of water, 75 to 85 degrees, for 5 minutes.  That water that you soak the yeast in comes out of the total water. So if you soak (or "hydrate") the yeast with 1/4 cup water, then you only add in 1-1/4 more cup of water to the dough.

If you add a tsp of table sugar to the yeast water, that is called "proofing" the yeast, and you should see some bubbles in 5 to 10 minutes.  That is just confirmation that your yeast was not already dead.

1 tablespoon of regular table salt seems too much.  try 1.5 teaspoons.  Too much salt can inhibit yeast activity.

You don't say what you're baking it in. What is it that has the lid?  A pullman loaf pan?  A dutch oven?  Plain cast iron?  Enameled cast iron?

If it's a dutch oven, are you preheating it too?


ihlegann_'s picture

Yes! I am using a dutch oven! I am preheating it for one hour during the last rise of the dough

Maverick's picture

What kind of flour are you using? That is almost 100% hydration (98.5%). If you are using freshly milled whole wheat, then that might work, but otherwise you need to use a lot less water as mentioned above.

Also of note is that  you are using too much  salt. I calculate that to be about 3.5%. Normally salt is about  2% of the flour weight. In your case, this is about 1/2 a tablespoon (or 1.5 teaspoons). This also depends on if you are using table salt, kosher salt, or what. Since you are weighing the  flour, you might as well weigh the  water (1ml is 1g) and salt too. Of course if you keep adding flour then things change.

OldLoaf's picture

As the saying goes: Watch the dough, not the clock”

You listed times for your first and second rise.  Go by what the dough is doing instead.  Times are generally only a rough approximation.  If the recipe calls for it to double in bulk during the first rise, it may take 1.5 hours or 3+ hours.  Depends on the temperature of your kitchen, flour, yeast, etc.  Same for the second rise.  It’s easiest to use something that has graduated markings on it for the first rise, like a very large measuring cup, or food storage container.  You can also just use the mixing bowl but I always found it more difficult to judge because of the shape.

For your second rise, use the poke test to see if it is ready.  Poke your index finger into the dough about up to the first knuckle.  If the dough fully springs back right away, you need more time.  If it doesn’t spring back at all, you make have over proofed.  If it springs back slowly about half way, you’re usually ready to go.

Oven temps can vary wildly.  I would recommend getting some type of oven thermometer to see what temperature your oven is actually at.  My oven runs about 15F hotter than what I have it set for so I know to adjust the temp before hand.

Colin2's picture

May I add a plug for as a loaf to learn on.