The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Sticky fingers

grrranimal's picture

Sticky fingers


Anyone got any secrets for keeping dough from sticking to your fingers when working with high-hydration mixes?

I like working with wet doughs, but I hate ending up with gloops of dough shag all over my hands, then having to scrape, rinse and lick it all off.

All tips welcome.

Thanks, in advance.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When I pour my dough onto a kneading surface, I clean out bowl (using flour) and oil it for the bulk rise. At the same time, oiling my hands. It's no guarantee but it does help.

Mini O

KipperCat's picture

I sometimes have success working with wet hands; dipping my  hands in water and shaking it off before putting them in the dough.  If there's much handling, I may need to repeat this a few times.

bwraith's picture

I use wet hands and a wet counter. I wet my hands and shake off excess, then rub my hands on the counter around the dough. The result is a very thin coating of water on your hands and on the counter. You can use a wetted dough scraper to gather any wisps of dough that may stick to the counter, and you can mop up excess water with the scraper too.

If you pick the dough up briskly and do your "french fold" or whatever technique you like to work a wet dough, it won't stick as long as you wash the thin, sticky film off your hands when they feel sticky, which I have to do a few times during a mixing/kneading session. Don't let your fingers stay in the dough too long as you knead or fold. Do your toss or your fold and pull your fingers out. You can also mix and knead dough by squeezing and extruding the dough through your fingers, working your way up and down the dough. It won't stick as long as your hands are wet and you do each squeeze quickly and then release it immediately.

When I am first mixing a very wet dough, I do the extruding technique first, then go on to the folding/kneading technique, and eventually when the dough is drier, conventional folding or turning of the dough. The extruding and the folding/kneading technique is described in Artisan Baking, by Glezer. Glezer's folding/kneading technique is similar to what is shown in a video by Richard Bertinet in his book, another good demonstration of working dough by hand.

It seems a little strange at first, and you can't believe it will work. If you persist and get the feel for it, it does work, though. You will make the dough a little wetter with this technique, just as you make it a little drier if you dust your hands and the counter with flour. I often will switch to flour later for the conventional folds, when the gluten is better developed. It offsets the wetness introduced earlier with the wet technique. The wet technique is better, in my opinion, when the dough is wet and undeveloped, or with whole grains early in the process when it is more sticky. It just seems easier to me.

susanfnp's picture

I'm with the "wet hands" people here, but for those times when it doesn't work as well as you'd like and you still end up with dough all over your fingers, here's a tip to make cleaning them easier: if you take a handful of flour and rub it between your hands, the dough will easily crumble off. Do this over the trash can and not the sink, so you don't have to call the plumber.