The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Clean Up

CountryBoy's picture

Clean Up

I have only been baking bread on a weekly basis for 5 months.  During that time I have made 2 major discoveries: 1) that a major portion of the bread making process involves the cleanup of doing same and that 2) no one ever discusses this aspect.  Do you folks know things that I don't?  Is there a way to make the cleanup, simpler faster?  I use a  wooden board to knead the dough on, but I guess I should use something else like marble to make cleanup easier.  There have to be simpler, faster, easier ways to clean up but I ain't got no idea of what they are.  Please advise.........

JMonkey's picture

Yeah, it's a mess, isn't it? Really wrecks havoc on my sponges. But I've found there are a few things I can do to help things along:

  • When I'm done with a tool, I immediately put it in the sink where it soaks in cool or warm water. You don't want hot water, because hot water will quite literally cook the dough, making it harder than bejeebers to scrape off.
  • I really should use special, dedicated sponges to clean everything, but I don't. I should though. My wife would no doubt love me much more than she already does. Ah well.
  • I use a bench knife to scrape dough off the counter. It works like magic. I got mine from King Arthur Flour.

Sylviambt's picture

Ditto to JMonkey's suggestions. I'd add: Liberally wet down any work surface that's got dough or flour on it, and then let this sit for a few minutes to loosen the goop.  Save those net onion bags - they're great for scrubbing stubborn surfaces.  If you use a stand mixer, consider spraying the paddle and dough hook with oil.


CountryBoy's picture

Jeff, every bit of advice helps. Can't I buy a spatula or trowel  like tool at the hardware store a bit more cheaply than KA? You know the kind they put on plaster with?  (ps: i like your bullets; where can i get bullets?  are they in the list tags?)

ehanner's picture

Sorry Countryboy there are only 6 bullets and I just used the last of them

  • ouch
  • ouch
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sphealey's picture

The plastic KA dough scrapers, which are perhaps a bit easier on your countertops, are 99 cents each. Sometimes they throw an extra one in with a big order.

The King Arthur Bakers Tour demonstration was interesting for many reasons, but one I hadn't expected was how the trainer managed to make and shape about 10 loaves worth of dough with minimal mess, keeping mostly within the outline of a 14 x 20 cutting board - and cleaned most of it up using no water. I can't get anywhere near that but I have been working on reducing the mess I create and thus having less to clean up.

One hint she gave: dough sticks to dough. Dough does not stick to flour (or water - but you need large amounts of it). Wash you hands and utensils with leftover flour and much of the dough will dry up and fall off.


JMonkey's picture

I'd imagine that any flat, squarish piece of sturdy metal would do the trick. I love my bench knife, though -- best birthday present I've gotten in a long time.

As for bullets, I disable rich text by clicking "disable rich text" just below the text box. Then, for a bulleted list, the HTML tag is "UL" (replace brackets for quotes), followed by "li" in front of each bullet point. When done, end with "/UL".

If you want numbers, use the "OL" tag.

Cooky's picture

CountryBoy, I hear what you're saying. I've learned that, before I begin working on bread, I need to clean every surface, put away every stray item and leave nothing in the sink so that I have enough room to accommodate the new mess I'm about to make.

    I use my trusty little hand-held vacuum -- like a Dirt Devil -- to eliminate much of the dry debris (flour, corn meal, salt, seeds, etc.) that ends up all over the counter and the floor and the stove and the oven door. (Most of the fallout occurs during transfers to and from the oven, a skill I am far from mastering.)

    I find that little sucker (hee!) is the biggest labor-saver of all. Of course I need to empty it immediately too.

    For scraping up the stuck junk, I use an old metal spatula I inherited from my mom. Works like a charm.




"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

sadears's picture

them at just about any place that sells cooking/baking products.  Linens 'n Things sells stuff like that, as well as Le Gourmet Chef.  You might even be able to find one at Wal-Mart.

I really like the idea of using the nets onions come in.  Never thought about that.


At Le Gourmet Chef it's 4.99.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I use my kitchen counter, my bench scraper is a piece of white (teflon?) plastic from the hardware store $0.25 and I use a net ball like sylvia, rinse as I go or at least cover with cold water until I find time and I find plastic bowls clean the easiest esp. if they are lightly oiled first.  Final wipe prefer wet dishrag, it rinses better.  Dishrag and net can go into washing machine daily.  My bench scraper is my favorite, almost nothing to wipe up afterwards and plastic won't ruin any surfaces.  Mini Oven

tattooedtonka's picture

Being that Im probably just a typical "big oaf", I make a heck of a mess in the kitchen when I start baking.  My wife is always bustin my chops about the kitchen cyclone.  Because I like big work areas, I use my kitchen countertop for all bread action.  Which leaves flour, drops of poolish, and or water, dough, yeast, salt, olive oil, poppyseeds, and anything else I have out trailed all over the counter.  I have s/s mixing bowls on the table, cooling racks on another counter, different covered bowls on other counters in different stages of fermentation.  Sheet pans about on the table with parchment and olive oil.  Just a big ol' mess.  For my quickest and easiest cleanup I have found.

  1. Purchase a plastic drywall putty applicator from the hardware store. I use this for formica counters.  I also use a bench knife I got from the local restaurant supply house for about 3 or 4 bucks.  I use cold water to pre soak the counter before attempting scrape down.  This loosens the crusty stuff up first. 
  2. I use windex and shop towel for wiping down all other areas I have wreaked havoc upon (I use shop towel so wife doesnt get upset that I dirtied all her kitchen towels).
  3. I have purchased a set of tupperware style containers to keep my different flours in that I am using so it is easier to scoop flours out to weigh without dealing with a bunch of awkward flour paper bags, and when Im done I just pop the lid back on them and in the cupboard they go.
  4. All my baking salts, and toppings are in little tupperware style containers for the same reason.  I hate trying to stick spoons into little spice containers, and trying to pour them into a spoon is even worse. 
  5. And finally get yourself a child, having a couple of your own is probably cheaper than buying one (just a joke).  So my teenager washes some of my dishes as I am finishing with them.  This way I am just left with everything else but the dishes.

Tattooed Tonka

audra36274's picture

to tell what is in there, I get those blank address labels from Walmart and print out in large, bold font one for each plastic canister, so that in the heat of baking battle I don't confuse the milk powder from the potato flour.

BROTKUNST's picture

Not sure why a mess would be not avoidable ... one works with few ingredients and even less tools. Just weight the ingredients before (if possible all the flours and yeast in one bowl, salt in another very small bowl, water at the right temperature in bowl ... and so on.) Once everything is ready put all the containers back in their place and start working - don't let the dough dry on the dough whisk when you swtich to hand kneading .... rinse the weight bowls ... done. (Mario Batali makes a nice set of these small - 2 cup bowls ... I have two sets) Use short breaks like during Autolyse to prepare your next steps like couche or proofing setup.


And most importantly, read about what you are going to do well in advance, even take some short notes ... don't let anybody distract you unless you can do already all the steps sleepwalking.


If you make more then one dough/bread at a time, make a small schedule in advance so that your task won't require more hands then you have at a given time.


When you work in an organized work space you will be more likely to learn from the actual baking session - that's at least true for me.


Hope that helps a little .... BROTKUNST


PS On the other hand, some characters work perfectly fine in a chaos and a cloud of flour ... whatever makes a better loaf should be good for someone.

redivyfarm's picture

I use old plastic credit card type cards as scrapers and also the formica samples from the home improvement stores. I really like kitchen gadgets so I have other scrapers in metal and in plastic. I use 3M scrubbie pads and wash them in the cutlery rack of the diswasher.

More importantly- I really like the way that fine dusting of flour feels on the floor when you walk on it bare foot.

Most importantly- I must like messy men because I married not just one, but two of them!

browndog's picture

I didn't know we could do that!

redivyfarm's picture

Silly pup.

CountryBoy's picture

For their advice; most appreciated.  What I am aiming for is what sphealey said with the comment 'The King Arthur Bakers Tour demonstration was interesting for many reasons, but one I hadn't expected was how the trainer managed to make and shape about 10 loaves worth of dough with minimal mess, keeping mostly within the outline of a 14 x 20 cutting board - and cleaned most of it up using no water.'   Many thanks to everyone!

bluezebra's picture

hi there as a veteran cook of many wars lol, but a brand new baker, i too set my mind out to de-mistify the messiness of bread making.

so far my only attempts have been lean breads: ap flour, water, salt, and yeast. i use the stretch and fold method for gluten development mainly because i don't have the experience to be able to know intuitively or feel when a dough has enough kneading to it. i knead by hand.

what i find works is to clean up as i go. once i finish with a utensil or bowl it gets rinsed under lukewarm water. and set aside to dry. i do use plastic air tight containers for my supplies like flour, sugar and they have a wide enough top that i easily measure and level back into them without mess. i keep my salt in a saucer on the counter. it's kosher salt.

i have a formica topped kitchen island that i use for my baking stage and that is clean and vacant of everything when i begin. another counter is used for my rising area (beside the fridge, next to the coffee pot) it's the warmest place in the kitchen.

i have favorite tools even as a beginner.

1. is an old dough scraper

2. is a solid plastic spatula that can take heat to 550 degrees.

3. two sizes of straight side clear glass bowls

4. two sets of metal measuring spoons

5. a set of metal measuring cups

6. a clear glass measuring cup

7. a cheap postal scale my dh bought on ebay for cheap

that's all i use. i don't have much problem with dough mounding or caking because i use very little flour in a compact area and scrape after each stretch and fold. gloopy stuff goes to the trash, loose flour goes back to the small flour pile to the right of my work area. i keep my hands floured so the dough doesn't stick to my fingers nor to my scraper. i find kinda dipping into the flour prior to stretching the dough works best for this.

i think the key is organization and planning and then it's just repitition.

hope that helps even if i am a newbie at this!

Jerseygirl's picture

I have a retriever that helps with what hits the floor!!  Otherwise, it is everywhere and each time I bake, being new at this myself, it gets neater and neater.  I learned the dough turns to cement if a drop is left in the sink overnight!!  I did learn not to use HOT WATER to clean out the mixing bowl!  Got used to flour on the floor, too.  Need new sponges as we speak. 

Jersey Girl in Kentucky

bluezebra's picture

hey btw, sponges as u all know (especially your sourdough afficionados) are great breeding grounds for goo of all kinds :-/.

i solved that long ago by buying washclothes in their own separate color that are dedicated for kitchen use only and only get washed with kitchen towels. i go through at least 1 per day. then it's just a short toss into the washer and voila! clean cloths that don't goo up like sponges do when cleaning up. they rinse clean very well after each cleanup use! and not to mention cheaper in the long run!

CountryBoy's picture

The clean up of liquid dough that has not dried is one thing but what can one do with dough that has dried up and hardened.  It seems like concrete.

Jerseygirl's picture

I just let it sit in some water and rehydrate, then scraped it up.  Took about 3 mins.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and on my clothes?   and in my hair?  on my door knobs and all over the fridge?  Those little garden smurfs have moved into the kitchen!  Yikes! and look at my scales? how did they reach that high up?  Red Bull gives them wings....   
"I'm in ur kitchen...   ...playing in ur flowers!"     Mini Oven

audra36274's picture

I got one to keep from getting dough in the grout of my tile counter top. It is 18 inches x 24 inches, so you usually have plenty of work space. Then the whole thing can be lifted up, loose stuff goes into the trash can, and the mat gets a quick wash off in the sink. Since it is silicon, the dough doesn't stick too bad. The mat is one of my favorite things in the kitchen, along with my scales.


JenT's picture

I love my silicon mat, too.:-)  Really cuts down on the mess and the amount of flour one needs for kneading.  I also clean as I go but I have trouble working when things are a mess around me.

tattooedtonka's picture

You can absolutely clean as you go, especially when baking a couple loaves.  You have plenty of time to clean while your waiting for fermentation.  However, I also enjoy really getting into the process, and I seem to like flour.  I enjoy it on me, the counter and everything else while Im baking.  Heck, Ive even been known to toss a little flour at my kids as they pass by.  I guess what I'm saying is enjoy it.  It suppose to be fun, not just a strict chore.  Some folks, as mentioned have to have everything spotless to feel comforatble.  To each their own.  When Im working on a machine, I am the same way.  But with baking I am a kid again, and its my time to make a mess (might be a boy thing). 

You can purchase, as I have found, just about every little toy or tool your heart desires.  Think of it, and someone probably sells it.  But if your looking to do a task, like cleaning crusty flour off the counter, you can use what you have if you want. Crusty flour can be rehydrated with water from the sink, you can buy a little spray bottle to spray water on the counter or you can buy a mat to cover your work area.  Whatever works for you and your budget can afford.  If you have ever seen any of my photos you will notice my cooling rack is just a removed rack from my stove.  When Im baking on stone in the oven I take my top rack out to cool my baked goods on.  Its not the best, but it works.

Oh and country boy, you will probably find that as you bake more and more, you will create a system.  A pattern of how you move throughout your process of baking that will allow you to contain your work area more as you increase your quantity of loaves.  I have found this out at least.  I just choose to make a mess and enjoy it.

Have fun...


pjkobulnicky's picture

Here is what I learned from my one lesson at KA ... clean dough off of things (bowls, utensils,  etc.)  with one of those plastic bristle brushes  ... the dough will rinse right off of the bristles.




Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio