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2nd Attempt at Basic Sourdough Bread, 2 questions...

bakebakebake's picture

2nd Attempt at Basic Sourdough Bread, 2 questions...

Hi everyone!

I'm making my second attempt in a couple days at basic sourdough and have 2 specific questions:

1)  WETTER DOUGH:  I have seen many references to "wetter dough" making larger holes (I know there is a better term for this).  By "wetter" are we talking about stickier?  When I made BBA Basic Sourdough last week I used just enough water to get the flour to come together with the firm starter.  When I transfered it to the board to knead, I had it floured as well and the dough took up that flour and became sticky again and I added more flour.  Was this a mistake?  Is there a way to prevent the dough from sticking to my hands and the board after the initial flour has been kneaded in?  I think my mom puts crisco or lard on her counter before the flour when she is rolling pie dough... would this work here?  I also had to knead longer than he suggested (he said 12-15, I think I ended up at about 18-20 min), I chalked this up to my kneading skills being rusty.  I was looking for that windowpane and also the temp of the dough to be 81 degrees (which I accomplished with the 18-20 min)

2)  KOSHER SALT:  I think I read somewhere the kosher salt is 1/2 the "saltiness" of regular iodized salt.  If I'm using kosher salt, should I double it?  Is their a reason to use kosher salt over iodized, or for that matter, sea salt versus kosher versus regular salt?

Thanks again for everyone's help - I made some sourdough english muffins a couple of nights ago with some of my starter too (also had a question about wetter dough with them as well!)!


jeffesonm's picture

1) I have no idea here... whenever I make a wet dough my hands and counter get covered in sticky bread dough that I scrape off and put back into the bread.  Eventually as the dough comes together it gets better.  Maybe someone else has a secret method?


2)  Kosher salt, at least the Diamond brand, has bigger crystals compared to table salt so less fit in a given volume.  If you have a scale, go by weight.  If not, I would try maybe 50% more and go from there.

PaddyL's picture

I did that yesterday when I was working with a rather wet dough.  You may need to keep wetting them, but it eventually does work out, and you could always add a little extra flour.

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, bakex3. 

The technical term for "wetter" is "higher hydration." Hydration is usually expressed as the percent water by weight with the percent flour always being 100%. This method of calculating proportions of ingredients is called "bakers' percentage." So, if you have a dough with 16 oz of flour and 12 oz of water, it would be a 75% hydration dough. 

Generally, when making breads with white flour, a dryer dough would be 62-67% hydration. High hydration doughs, often also called "slack" doughs, might have 70% hydration or higher. 

As I recall, the "Basic Sourdough" in BBA is about 65% hydration. This dough should be relatively dry - "tacky," but not "sticky." 

One way to avoid adding too much flour while kneading is to mix the water and flour first (before adding the starter and salt) and allowing this mixture to rest for 20 minutes or so in a covered bowl. This allows the flour to absorb the water completely and for the gluten to start to develop. You can also let the dough rest every few minutes during kneading to let the gluten relax. As you knead, you should work through the sticky phase and get a smooth dough (at 65% hydration. Slack doughs require different methods.), as PaddyL says. 

Hope this helps. 


Janedo's picture

I admit that I like to kneed high hydration dough in the bread machine because I never have to add flour and it comes out perfectly. I do that for my baguettes and when I'm experimenting with high hydration sourdough. Otherwise the tackiness drives me crazy!

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

especially with high hydration doughs. Use a good amount of flour on your work surface and use a dough scraper to stretch the dough. Wet fingers help a great deal when working with wet doughs. I use stretch and fold with all my breads.

Here's a link to the video


bakebakebake's picture

I made the firm starter yesterday, so today I'll try to mix the sourdough using less flour than my last attempt.  I will try the stretch and fold method and let it rest every bit so that it can accept the water.  I'm using 10 oz of flour (it's just one small loaf), so I'm going to aim for 7 oz of water - (70% hydration).  I think I'll make it 9 oz bread flour and 1 oz whole wheat.

As for the salt question - I have been measuring everything by weight, so I should be fine - and I think that I'll just use regular salt anyways as no one has seemed to think that it makes any difference.

Thanks for all the helpful comments, I'll let you know how it goes and try to take a photo when it's finished tomorrow.  I'm going to retard it overnight in the fridge.