The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Sticky dough

MzCris's picture

Sticky dough

What am I doing wrong, I measure everything properly, with my kitchen scale, and my dough comes out sticky. Very frustrating 

Econprof's picture

What recipe are you using?

It’s entirely possible that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Many doughs, especially higher hydration doughs, are supposed to be sticky. I find that a bench scraper is a massive help. It allows you to shape the dough without touching it much. 

Benito's picture

Your flour isn’t going to be exactly the same as the writer of the recipe so you may not get the same results.  Your flour may not be able to absorb as much water so when trying a recipe for the first time I would suggest you reduce the hydration by 5% so if the suggested hydration is 75% by baker’s math reduce it to 70%.  You can then add water doing a bassinage if you feel that the dough is too dry.

Another factor is that inadequately developed gluten in a dough will make the dough feel stickier than dough with well developed gluten.  So you can work on better developing the gluten through French folds for example early on.


mariana's picture

Unless you are making your dough for pasta or maybe bagels, sticky is good and necessary.

When you mix flour and liquids those liquids are not immediately absorbed into the bread flour particles, it takes time, from 20 min to 3 hours for the flour to fully absorb water. Only then the dough becomes tacky but not sticky or even completely dry to touch. Initially sticky dough is normal.

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

French folding is a generic cure for sticky doughs. If you’re not familiar with the technique, here is an excellent demonstration:

Do it just after mixing, or even (as I do) to complete mixing. 

Good luck. 


GaryBishop's picture

Wet hands and a bench scraper make sticky dough much easier to handle. 

Ming's picture

Are you talking about like these scrappers Gary? :)


GaryBishop's picture

That sort of thing for sure. 

pmccool's picture

please accept that I might be telling you something that you already know.  If so, my apologies.

If baking bread is a relatively new thing for you, your sense of "sticky" is going to be much different than that of someone who has been baking bread for a long time.  This is something that I've seen frequently with students who have little or no prior experience with making bread.  What, from my experience, is a slightly tacky dough, they perceive as an insanely sticky dough that wants to bond with everything it touches.

The initial impulse to get rid of the stickiness is to add more flour.  That can lead to dry, leaden loaves. 

There are tips and methods that will help you deal with the stickiness, as other posters have mentioned.  I use those same techniques in my own baking.  They work well and produce good bread.

The thing that one can't readily describe for you is something that you pick up by experience.  It's a collection of small things; motions, really.  Stuff like using fingertips instead of the whole hand to pick up sticky dough.  Or, letting go with a sort of rolling motion of the hand.  Or keeping one hand free for handling tools while letting the other get gloppy.  Some of these you might be able to pick up by watching videos or learning from an experienced instructor.  Others, well, you just might wind up inventing some of your own methods.

Best of luck to you.  You will get better at it with more practice.


idaveindy's picture

First off- Welcome to TFL!  This is one of the best and friendliest bread-baking web sites there is. So you are off to a good start.

Since you didn't give specifics about your recipe, location, and ingredients, here are some generalities.

The most common thing beginning bakers do wrong is:  substitutions that don't match well enough.

As to the specific thing wrong, you'll need to provide more information as to what your recipe says, and what exact ingredients that you used in trying to match what the recipe calls for.

The country you are located in is very important, because ingredients vary greatly from country to country.


And... Some people use a different kind of flour than what the recipe intends.

For example:

  • using spelt flour when the recipe calls for wheat (regular) flour.
  • using whole grain spelt when the recipe calls for regular (refined/sifted/white) spelt.
  • using flour from outside North America, when the recipe is intended for North American flour. Or generally: using a recipe from one country, and using ingredients from a different country.


If you would, please spell out your recipe (if you refer to a cookbook, please say which edition/year, and the page #), or perhaps give the URL to the online recipe.

Then please tell what country you are in, and which brand and specific flour(s) that you actually used in the recipe.

Flours with the same name are sometimes not the same from one country to another. For instance, North American "all purpose" flour would be more like bread flour in the UK and EU.

We also love photos here. So photos of your bread would be welcome.

I hope you enjoy your interactions here and become a contributing member.

rondayvous's picture

If your using more than 20% rye, you'll never get rid of the sticky dough (at least in my experience). The best you can do is drop it on a lightly floured board, dust the top and your hands and gently shape.