The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


MapMaker's picture


One frustration that I am continually fighting is dough that seems too elastic and hard to shape.  I have this problem with various recipes for baquettes, ciabatta, pan l'ancienne, etc.  I know that resting improves elasticity but it seems I must be doing something fundamentally wrong to be fighting this all the time.  What should I look at?  Is the dough under kneaded or over kneaded?  Under proofed or over proofed?  Is it the flour?  I watch so many videos where the bread looks so easy to work that I want to improve this particular aspect of my bread baking.  Any suggestions?

Paddyscake's picture

doesn't improve elasticity..quite the opposite. The dough relaxes and is much easier to shape. If you get to the point that it is very elastic, hard to work, it is over kneaded. Cover and let it rest....20 minutes or so.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hold back on the flour. Don't put 1 cup of the designated flour into the dough and add very slowly by kneading trying not to use it at all.  If you rest the dough between mixing and kneading, say 20 min to 30min,  it will have a chance to absorb more of the water and more flour may not be needed.  See if that helps. 

The dough you mention are all very soft doughs with high hydration (water content when comparing to flour)  and should be rather uncontrolable when first mixed.  After letting the dough rest, this is a good time to learn to "fold" the dough if you haven't tried the technique already.   

Mini O

SourdoLady's picture

I agree with Mini Oven, you are using too much flour. When you first mix your dough it should look like it is too wet. Once it is kneaded and folded you will be surprised at how much it firms up.

MapMaker's picture

Paddyscake, what I meant by saying resting improved elasticity is that it makes the dough more extensible, hence less elastic.

I have read that it's very hard to over knead bread by hand so I guess I'll try backing off on the flour some.


ehanner's picture

This is a link to a video that will make you rethink your dough preparation. The simplicity of his technique is masterful and will work with any dough formula. The kneading method is very effective and you can see the dough as it undergoes the change from a mess to a refined well developed mass. Enjoy!