The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Adding and Maintaining Strength

Elmhurst Bread Boy's picture
Elmhurst Bread Boy

Adding and Maintaining Strength

Hi Forum,

I'm curious how you experienced bakers are able to develop and maintain strength in the dough during bulk, particularly those who hand mix.  Lately I've been having an issue where dough just isn't strong enough to hold its form during pre-shape.  I take it out and it just sticks to everything--table, bench, bench knife, hands, etc.  Either I use a ton of bench flour which inhibits my ability to shape properly, or I try to power through the stickiness which usually ends up in some combination of loosely formed and degassed dough.  


On this last batch last night, the dough was looking good and fine about 2 hours into bulk--it was holding its shape in the bowl and the edges were rounded off nicely.  Then after another 1.5 hours, all that strength disappeared and the dough was wet, sticky and limp.  

I've asked professional bakes (via Instagram) how they manage to shape their extremely hydrated doughs with little to no bench flour and without it sticking anywhere and the answer I primarily receive is that the dough needs to be well fermented.  

But for me, my starter is very active and fermentation is not an issue.  I just can't seem to develop and/or maintain this requisite strength throughout the bulk in order to properly shape and maximize oven spring and openness.  

If anyone has any input or similar experiences, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks again all,

Bread Boy.

Danni3ll3's picture

Your bulk fermentation? It’s hard to tell what I’d happening without a recipe and a method, but it sounds like the dough over fermented.