The Fresh Loaf

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Overkneaded? Can I save it?

tbednarick's picture

Overkneaded? Can I save it?

Good morning. I'm making a sourdough ciabatta this morning and it was coming together nicely in the kitchen aid. In fact, I thought, wow, that dough might be a little too stiff, must be the whole wheat. I was kneading at level two for 4 to 5 minutes when it kind of stopped holding together so well. It still seams to have some gluten, but it's tearing very easy. Can I save this dough?

I used a starter that's pretty active and that I have used and refreshed several times over the last few days. I refreshed it last night and stuck it in the refrigerator after a couple of hours. I used it cold this morning and added lukewarm water to the dough. The starter had plenty of gluten this morning, unlike when I let it sit out all night.

Dwu3193's picture

You can save it. Just knead it some more (preferably after the first rise so that you don't need to knead as much) and the gluten will reform. You'll probably get a slightly more dense and chewier crumb, but at least you won't have to throw out a perfectly good batch of bread.

KosherBaker's picture

Hmm this is going to be a little tough. In the past when I've made my dough too dry it would tear the way you describe it. Basically from that point on the dough would not really rise as the gluten strands had a strangle hold on the mixture. The dough can be saved but you need to figure out a way of introducing some moisture into it. Some people simply put the whole thing back into the mixer and add water into it and let it go until water incorporates. I dunno if that works though as I've never actually tried it, just heard others suggest it. Another option might be to figure out how much liquid you need/want add it to your mixer and then cut your dough into small pieces and add them one at a time until they incorporate into the mixture. That would be my suggestion anyway.

Good Luck.


fancypantalons's picture

My technique for incorporating additional water is to place the dough in a bowl, add the water, and then "squish" the dough with my hands, so it squeezes out between my fingers.  This increases the surface area and breaks the dough down into smaller pieces, which will then absorb the water more quickly.  After a while, the dough starts to go from "slimy" to "sticky", at which point I turn it out onto a floured surface to kneed.  Works pretty well, though admittedly I've only done this with standard hydration doughs (60-70%).