Help - dough too wet!


Hope someone can help with this one.  We have been making sourdough for a month or so, and have tried a few recipes from books and the net (inc this site). Uniformly they always seem to be too wet, with our dough looking and feeling nothing like the lovely normal -looking and easy to handle dough pictured in the photos.  We always end up chucking lots more flour in to help it come together so it can be kneaded. We never really get a good rise either! Our loaves taste nice though.  We've been scrupulous about proportions and weighing the starter, flour and water carefully so just can't work out why our dough is always so gooey!  Thanks

152 users have voted.


thelaundry 2010 September 3

Wet dough may be tricky to get the hang of but it is what gives you the best bread with an open texture, so well worth getting to grips with the technique. Adding flour to make it manageable may help but it also alters the hydration. My advice is to oil the board and your hands and manipulate the dough first in short bursts of folding and stretching it. Save the floured board for the last shaping of the loaf. I follow Dan Lepard's techniques which call for hardly any 'kneading'. It is amazing how quickly you feel the dough go from seemingly wet and uncontrollable, strengthening with just a few folds and turns. Each time the dough is left to rest it will soften again as it relaxes, so I find it useful to put it in the fridge overnight if I have the time for its final rise. That way it keeps its shape and is more likely to rise upwards rather than outwards when it is baked. Tackling wet dough should be thought of as on par with fire walking or sky diving! Once you've done it you feel like you are capable of doing anything. Good luck.

rossnroller 2010 September 3

I agree with thelaundry on stretching and folding, and on the points made re wet dough.

However, I wonder what type of flour you're using? Lower protein flours yield a wetter dough than higher protein ones. I note you're in Byron Bay, so you're probably using a flour known to the Aussies on this site. If you post details,  someone might have a useful observation or two for you.

Also, maybe you could give an example of a recipe you've tried and have found to produce too wet a dough.


Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2010 September 4

Check this out - ciabatta weekends - who would have thought this porridgey slop would turn into bread??  And as if by magic it did ........ and nice bread too.  Don't be scared.  Like Thelaundry, I also use Dan Lepards technique of kneading = mix your ingredients together, let autolyse (sit) for about 20 minutes for the gluten to start developing, turn out onto an oiled counter, oil your hands and give the dough about 10 kneads, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Repeat this about three times, then let iy sit for about 1/2 hour and give it another quick knead or a fold, then maybe once more during its ferment.  you'll be amazed how it all comes together.


Happiness is making bread.

rwhelan 2010 September 5

Thanks.  I've read lots of really helpful replies on this and it all comes down to being brave, taking a leap of faith with the dough and being confident it will all come together!  And oil on the benchtop!  My husband made a loaf yesterday  and that made a huge difference.  A gorgeous chewy loaf with nice holes all through.  And next time we will definitely put it in the fridge for a final rise too to see the result. The posted info and photos were great.  Another question...what do people think about using a tin to help produce a higher loaf?.  Thanks again everyone

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2010 September 5

These will both help contain your loaf and will make a more uniform shape.  But if your dough has a high hydration level you may find the tin or brotform (the english word for this escapes me!) won't help at all - the nature of the dough will be too "relaxed".

Tins you bake the bread in, whereas you remove the bread from the brotform (bannetton or bread rising basket) prior to baking.  Give it a go though, there's nothing quite like experimentation for finding out!


Jigsaw 2010 September 9

I too have had a dough that after it's finnal rise was still way way way WAY to soft and started to run over the pizza stone I cook it on when I first put it into the oven.  Seconds after going in I scooped it out and then put in a 9 inch round pie pan and cooked it in that.  No time to oil the pan or flour it either.  Luckly it was a non-stick one and the loaf came out of it ok.

Though it looked a bit funny it did rise upwards and not outwards.  Looked kinda like a giant muffin!

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