The Fresh Loaf

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When is the best time to add more flour?

Drumlug's picture

When is the best time to add more flour?

I have tried a few recipes for burger buns and, when all the ingredients are combined, they are all closer to batter than dough. Super super slack. After the butter is all added in the dough never seems to want to come back together.

In the tutorial videos I've watched, a couple of baker's have mentioned a "teething" stage before it goes slack, then pulls back together. They let the stand mixer continue to work the dough for around 10 additional minutes, (around 15 minutes altogether.)  

I have always added more flour after 8 minutes if a ball hadn't formed. But out of curiosity, yesterday I just let my stand mixer run to see how long it would take IF that dough would form. It was running for 20 minutes and the dough still hadn't pulled together. The mixer was starting to get hot so I gave in and, over the next couple minutes gradually added about 3 Tbs. of flour before a ball formed.

So is the really wet stage just an issue with enriched doughs?

Would it have pulled together after 25 minutes?

And why is the sky blue? 

fredsbread's picture

What do these recipes look like? Are you measuring in cups or by weight?

Not sure what stand mixer you have, but I have noticed that my KitchenAid doesn't handle higher hydration doughs very well; the way the hook moves doesn't develop gluten well unless the dough is fairly stiff. It also depends on how full the bowl is. For wetter and/or smaller doughs, I've found that the paddle actually develops gluten better than the hook.

Drumlug's picture

Ooops... I meant to post the ingredients too. And I am using the standard series KitchenAid with the C shaped dough hook.

Also this recipe calls for the water and milk to be at a temp of 112-115 degrees to bloom the yeast. So I was also kind of wondering if this, plus the long mix was keeping the butter too warm? And maybe I should  switch to Instant yeast and mix with cooler liquids? 


• 8-to-10-ounce russet potato (1 scant cup)

• 480 g (4 cups) AP Flour

• 118 g (1/2 Cup) water

• 184 g (3/4 cup) whole milk

• 67 g (1/3 cup) sugar

• 7 g (1 packet) active yeast

• 7 g (1.5 teaspoons) coarse salt

• 1 large egg


• 80 g (1/3 cup) softened unsalted butter

pmccool's picture

I assume the potato is boiled, which means it will have absorbed an unknown quantity of water.

The recipe also calls for 118g of water, plus 184g of milk, plus large egg (50g, so about 40g of water), plus 80g of butter that will contribute another 12g of water.  All told, 340 to 350g of water.  Let's call it 340g for argument's sake. 

Divide the water weight (340g) by the flour weight (480g) and you wind up with 71% (rounded) hydration, which doesn't include whatever water the potato adds.  Then factor in the shortening effect of the butter.  Depending on the protein content of the flour, that could lead to a fairly loose dough. 

To your original question, once all ingredients have been fully incorporated and the dough has stabilized, then add flour if it is needed.  I only mention "stabilized" because the dough should stop showing signs of change before you consider making adjustments.  Once its condition settles down, whether too wet or too dry, then add flour or liquid, as needed.


Drumlug's picture

This is the first enriched dough that I'm repeating so that I can learn. I'm pretty confident with my pizza dough but, for this one,  I had no idea what percent of the egg and butter weight added to the overall hydration.

Extra info... The potato is baked, then peeled and rested until it cools down to room temp. It steams off quite a bit.

Thanks again.

alfanso's picture


Precaud's picture

I did not like my KA Artisan until I got this spiral hook last year. What a huge difference!

Levain & Co Stainless Steel Spiral Dough Hook


The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

The dough should be allowed to to reach a good Strong gluten network by the means if either time, mechanical manipulation, or a combination before any adjustments to the hydration are made. Adding additional flour late in the game may have a detrimental impact on the texture of the finished product. For an example, to much bench flour during the preshaping/ shaping is never a good practice. At this late stage the bare minimum amount needed to achieve a workable dough is advisable. Better still,  would be using shaping techniques that are geared to high hydration dough. This method is highly appealing in contrast to Willie nilly addition of flour. 

Kind regards,

Will Falzon 

rondayvous's picture

Try taking your dough as soon as it starts to pull away from the bowl and use a stretch and fold technique. No effort and very effective

Drumlug's picture

So after looking up a few things about the potato in this recipe online it's entirely possible that I WAS working with a dough hydration near 100%

Calculations may be different in baking world so please correct me if this is wrong...

Google says that a baked potato is still 75% water. And 1 cup of riced potatoes is around 210 grams. So that would add (up to) 158 grams to the hydration ... which explains a whole lot. 

I think I have something wrong in this recipe lol

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

It is a given that In any event this dough is in the category of a high hydration. That being said, I think you are over estimating the amount of water from your baked potato that will actually be absorbed by the dough. 

albacore's picture

Yes, I have heard that the addition of cooked potato is "hydration neutral". It seems a bit strange given the amount of water in there, but I guess it is bound water.

And flaked dehdrated potato is reckoned to have a hydration rate of 200%!



Isand66's picture

Not sure where you heard that but it’s usually 75-80% water and I can attest to that.  I use potatoes all the time and it definitely affects the hydration.

albacore's picture

I agree Ian that it sounds a bit crazy!. It came from a post by Gary:

which linked to this:

I made a recipe with 7% potato flakes at 200% hydration and it worked out fine, but at 7% there's quite a margin for error if the flake hydration volume is not right.

Two other thoughts though:

1) I mixed up a few grams of potato flakes with 100% water - it was very dry. I mixed up another few grams at 200% and it had the consistency of normal mash.

2) I have read in quite a few places that you can add cooked boiled potato to a dough without having to adjust dough hydration (quantity within reason, of course). Given that the water content of boiled potatoes is reckoned to be 77%, this is even greater than a 200% hydration.

Interesting stuff!


Drumlug's picture

... or maybe a link to an article here you can recommend that shows how these other ingredients affect dough hydration?

Almost all of my dough experience is with pizza. That's a pretty easy place to start because it's self explanatory. I obviously wasn't quite prepared for dough enrichments beyond olive oil. 

tpassin's picture

It's always a question - how much the water in the addition (potato, scald, whatever) will act like more water so far as the dough handling properties are concerned. Working with a new recipe, I think it's a good idea to hold back a fair amount of the liquid and then add more when the dough seems too dry.  It's harder with potatoes, etc. in the dough because they change the normal feel of dough.  I tend to add too much water, then afterwards realize it's too much.

After a few times you will have a much better idea how much water that kind of dough needs.


islandbakery's picture

I agree with Tom. It has been my experience that it is better to hold water rather than add flour. By adding flour you are changing the proportions of other ingredients as to the flour quantity. I generally start with holding 10% of the water, but in your recipe since it looks like most of the hydration is not water I would be inclined to hold all the water until you see how the dough is developing, then add probably around 20-30 gr at a time.

Moe C's picture
Moe C

There is indeed a chart listing the H2O content of every ingredient imaginable. It was compiled by a TFL member, Dolf. He has posts about it on this site, but to download the spreadsheet, go here:

It opens on Look Up because that's where a sample of the hydration % chart is, starting at "A". You can download by clicking on the left-side menu.

That being said, I downloaded it, but don't have MS Excel and can't get it to work properly in LibreOffice. (Edit:fixed)

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I have a work around that worked for me. If you have a free google account/ email you will have access to Google sheets. The Google spreadsheet will automatically convert the MS excel formatting into Google sheets format. I was able to gain access to a dough calculator in Excel that I could no longer use after I retired and no longer had access to the excel program, short of buying a copy. I hope this helps.

Moe C's picture
Moe C

Thank you, Will. I just got it working. Had to adjust my macro settings in Libre to medium security, then allow updating for the spreadsheet and all is good.

The look up list starts at AP and ends at Zinc. Amazing. What a lot of work he did. Not to mention the rest of the spreadsheet.