Is my dough too wet?


 Hello everyone,

well I'm onto my third loaf of SD now and so far so good (ish). My question has sort of been covered on this forum recently but I please bear with me. My dough, before it starts the bulk-prove, is slightly sticky but seems to get stickier, and despite my leaving in a banneton overnight, just kind of spreads over my baking tray when I tip it in. I have been following the basic recipe in the Bourke St. Bakery book, which for those of you unfamiliar with it, involves a 2 hour bulk-prove, an 8-12 hour stint in the fridge, followed by a 1-4 hour final prove. When I poked the dough to test if it was ready it just stuck to my finger. It also stuck to the cloth lining the banneton, despite my addition of flour. The bread tasted very good however, and managed to double in height in the oven but I would like a better shape. I will attempt to add some photos now - wish me luck!




182 users have voted.


Muff 2010 April 26

Surprisingly the sticky quality isn't necessary entirely a function of the "absorption", although that's a logical place to look for the problem. It's also influenced by overall fermentation, the humidity of the fridge, whether it's covered, and the strength of the flour.

But there's something of a giveaway in two things- your statement that the loaf doubled in height in the oven and the excellent, naturally rounded sides of the loaf right at the bottom, as well as in the nice texture. Weak doughs, especially those which haven't fermented long enough, spread out weakly, and tend to have sharp edges and fine texture (they also don't taste as good, lack a good quality to the tooth, and don't keep at all well.  They don't kick well, if at all, in the oven. So I'd hazard a guess that you don't need to fiddle too much with your procedure or the level of hydration. It does sound like your dough may be a little of the soft side, but that can be a good thing. It may also just be a function of flour which hasn't reached its full natural age- what commercial bakers call "green" flour. Bleaching and bromating artifically age flour, and if you're not using bleached, bromated flour -well, sometimes, even if you are- this can be an issue. So the problem may magically disappear over a period of weeks!

But whatever it is you're doing is working pretty well, and I wouldn't make any wholesale changes. Just keep at it and it'll all start to come together more and more often.

Good luck,


ilovebread 2010 April 26

 Thanks Muff,

I'll try a different flour next time and see how it goes. As I said, the flavour is great - I would like a better shaped loaf that's all.  Maybe I just need to keep practising on my shaping techniques. I'm just following steps in a book so it's all a bit hit and miss. 



sage72 2010 May 26

I think the simplest solution is not change the way you are making your dough. I would do one thing different. BEFORE PUTTING YOU DOUGH IN FOR THE FINAL RISE  PUT PARCHMENT PAPER IN THE RECEPTICAL, WHATEVER IT IS SO IT WILL NOT STICK. THEN WHEN READY TO BAKE..PICK UP THE DOUGH  AND THE PARCHMENT PAPER AND BAKE BOTH.! the parchment paper will not burn. Try it. I always bake that way and it takes a lot of stress out of the process of moving the dough.

Muff 2010 May 26

Yeah, Sage72 is right: parchment takes a lot of pain out of handling proofed loaves, and it won't  burn. In fact, if the oven isn't too hot you can sometimes even reuse it.

Very often a dough is "just right" except in some handling characteristic or another. It may be sticky or it may be bucky (full of gas and hard to work) or it may be a little soft or stiff, whatever. Does that mean we should change the dough to make it easier to handle, or should we learn to deal with it? My thought is that we usually err on the side of adjusting the quantities or the kind of flour when it's often just a matter or timing: a "bucky" dough may be pretty reasonable to handle if it's taken a few minutes earlier or later, but getting your hands to the point that they understand that takes experience.

Well, just thoughts. I work some with apprentices and I always have to deal with a tendency on their part to try to  fix the mix instead of themselves ... and I'll admit that there are a certain number of their senior collegues that aren't immune to the inclination!



SlackerJohn 2012 December 28

Your dough may be slightly over-proved.

Agree that you need more work on shaping.  (Or, ha ha, tin it like I do, shape is never an issue!)

And flatter bread has more of the best bit - CRUST, yummy!

However, there is nothing wrong with the shape!  Plenty people would love to achieve that shape.  I thought you were talking pizza- or foccaccia-like....

Don't sweat the little things!


amber108 2015 May 31

Looks great! Wet dough is a pain to deal with but makes much better bread in my opinion, softer, lighter, tastier, crustier. Baking paper/ parchment with a tiny bit of oil does wonders for the sticking, or a ton of flour, and shallow, if any, cuts.

Most people would be happy to be getting bread like that on their third go! :)

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