My dough is too wet and soft (updated on 6th Nov)


Here are all the pics of my bread making procedure.

Please check up each stage and give me some advice...


My recipe is here.

White flour   264 g

whole wheat flour 18g

rye flour 18g

white starter of 100% hydration  186 g

water 150g

salt 6g



This is my white starter with 100% hydration.

What's happening in the circle ?  Overfermented ?


This starter is quite annoying me. I can't see the web ( gluten net ) inside which can be seen in a ripen starter.

Even there is no web , but still there are many small bubbles on the surface.

What does this mean ?


This is the dough after bulk fermentation of 4 hours with 3 foldings.

not much risen...



The dough is very wet ,sticky and weak..hard to handle with.

Is this normal to wet dough ? 



This is after 2nd proof.

still no rise...



The dough is almost flat...


This is just out of oven.  .


 It has risen a bit , but still heavy and dense. 


I can see  my starter has a problem with leavening power. It might not be ready to go yet.

As to the dough, I don't know what will make it  better.




Hello again,

This is another bread. I have rereshed the starter ( same as the above ) twice before using it.   




I reduced water a little . Now the starter has gluten strands inside.


It doesn't flow like water and looks gassy.



This is just after the starter is mixed in and stirred up with water.

not many air bubbles are seen...this means , I guess, lack of yeast's activity...


After mixing up, it looks not bad.

At this time, I could manage to work on with olive oil coating.


first folding after 1 hour. Almost no sign of fermentation .


After 3 hours, just before going to dividing.  I decided to go next stage even the dough had not fully grown.

Because the dough seemed to start getting wet and weak.


This side looks the dough has fermented ...


The other side , less fermentation


The dough is still soft and  sticky.



After rolling up . some gas bubbles are seen on the surface. Good sign of yeast's activity...?

Until this time, I expected that I could have a better bread than before.



While prooving, it became wetter and stuck to the basket .

I dropped the dough while transfering to the oven, so it got flat down.

What a disaster it was..


Anyhow, the bread has been baked. Fortunately, it got oven spring and rose up a little.



Heavy and dense bread...not much improvement.

I expected a lighter and fluppy bread at this time , but as you see , almost same result as previous one.


I'll try another experiment with new method , feeding the culture every 8 hours and adding a little amount of rye flour in the starter. I hope this will give yeasts more activity and less fermentation time not to make the dough wet and sticky.


Let's see what changes happen...




362 users have voted.


rossnroller 2010 November 4

Your starter may get stronger in time, but it's certainly active. Your breads rose, and IMO they look very nice - the crumb, especially. How was the flavour?

Many sourdough breads are heavier and denser than the typical yeasted bread (ie: with dry or fresh commercial yeast as the leavening agent). Maybe you could bear this in mind.

One thing: how long before loading your bread dough into the oven are you slashing? You should slash just before baking. If you slash and let the dough sit, you're likely to get a flatter loaf as a result.

Finally, what sort of flour are you using? Bread can vary enormously, depending on the qualities of the flours used in the dough (and starter).


molifemo 2010 November 4


The dough sit for more than 5 mins after slashed.

 I just expected more openning on the dough while heating up the oven.  However as you advised , this made the dough flatter . 


The flour that I used here is T55 from France. I have no idea what T55 stands for  and the brand. 


Thank you,



Camas 2012 February 15

 The T number on french flour tells you how much of the grain is in the flour. T is for TYPE and Type 55 is white flour, often called menage. The bigger the number the more of the grain is the flour. T45 is very fine patisserie flour, most white bread is made from T55 and T65. T80 is semi-complete (semi-wholemeal) T110 is complete (wholemeal), T150 is integrale (wholegrain).

good baking


Alie0Bronwynn 2010 November 5

Your dough definitely looks too wet.  It should be thick and tacky. 


Also, what is the recipe you are using to refresh your starter?  Mine is 30g Rye, 70g Bread Flour & 100g Spring water.


One thing you could try is a higher concentration of rye flour - apparently per this site rye is like candy to your starter and will help make it very active.


Though, I agree with Ross, your bread looks good! 


I also recommend trying this recipe.  I tried a lot of recipies but this one quickly became my favorite.


Good luck!

molifemo 2010 November 5


I want this starter stay white starter  so no rye flour was in on purpose.

This is my first time of making white starter. It's a kind of experiment for me.


Before, I had same dough problem with rye flour mixed starter which was quite active.


Thank you  for your recommendation , Alie0Bronwynn.




Syd 2010 November 5

How old is your starter?  Is it only a few days old?  If so, you need to wait at least a week (most would say two weeks) before you even try to bake with it.  I see no evidence of gluten strands in your starter at all.  It looks soupy and frothy like a new starter  during its first few days.  Or it could also be an established starter that has risen and collapsed and the gluten destroyed because it has become over sour.  You want to use your starter after it has been refreshed and it has doubled but is still on the rise.  Once it has reached its peak, it will start to cave in on itself and collapse.  You want to use it before this point i.e. while it is still going up.  Once it has started to sink it will get very sour.  An overripe starter will quickly break down the gluten in your dough and in three to four hours you will end up with a sticky mass (just like in your pictures). 


There is no way your dough should look as wet and sticky like that.  Not with a 61% hydration like you are using in that recipe.  (If you take into account the flour and water in the starter then your hydration works out to be 61%).  61% makes for a relatively stiff dough, unless you are using cake flour.  That wetness and stickiness is almost certainly due to gluten degradation.  I am guessing that is because your starter is overripe.  Another possible reason is that you have a high proportion of starter in relation to flour.  I would only use 100g of starter for 300g of flour.  If it were me, I would re-write the recipe like this:


White flour   264 g

whole wheat flour 18g

rye flour 18g

white starter of 100% hydration  100 g

water 175g

salt 6g

Try bulk fermenting for a shorter time say, 2 and a half hours with folds at 50 and 100 mins respectively.  Your dough doesn't have to double during its first rise but if you cut it open you should see the beginning of a nice network of fermentation bubbles.  After 2 and a half hours pre-shape it, let it rest for about 15, then shape it.  You should have a much more manageable dough. 


The altered recipe above works out to be a 64% hydration dough (still a very manageable but with almost half the amount of starter).  With less starter you will have less likelihood of the gluten breaking down so dramatically.  But still the most important thing to remember is to use fresh starter that hasn't quite reached its peak.  .  When you spoon out your starter it should have a network of long gluten strands in it and even at 100% hydration have a lot of resistance in it when you stir it.  If you use it at this stage you should get a light, high-risen loaf with nice irregular holes in it.  If your starter has no gluten strands and pours out like water, it is overripe and past its peak.  Toss most of it out and feed the remainder.  Wait for it to double and then use the refreshed starter. 


Bear in mind that you are also using (albeit small amounts) of rye and whole wheat.  Both of these will cause your starter to ferment more quickly and the addition of rye (in particular) will always shorten proofing times. 


How active is your starter?  What is your feeding ratio and how often do you feed it?  What was the ambient temperature when the dough was rising?   How long does it take to double?  If the yeast in your starter isn't active enough then your rising times will be excessively long whch will give the enzymes plenty of time to eat away at the gluten.  Temperature will also affect rising times.  How long was the whole process from mixing to baking?  Your loaves are starting to take on that pale look where the entire process has taken too long and most of the available sugars have been eaten up.   When this happens there will not be enough sugars left to give the crust its deep reddish-brown colour. 


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 November 5


The flour that I used here is T55 from France. I have no idea what T55 stands for  and the brand. [/quote]

Here is a thread that should help you understand what that flour is.

I also agree 100% with Syd as to your bread.  Try his recipe or find one that people have had good success with and make that bread.  Keep making that same bread until you get good at it then you can start trying different ideas.

molifemo 2010 November 6

Thank you for all the detailed advice.


Now I can see that I have missed the the time when a starter should go in.  I have used the starter when it started to fall down or already collapsed a bit.  


My feeding ratio is 1 part of starter and 1 part of mixture of water and flour. I feed the starter usually twice a day.  I just stick to the way that a book or a recipe says . This has been a big question for me since I started making sourdough. 

My room temp. is around 23 C and humidity is about 55% .  My starter usually gets doubled in 4 hours and whole process takes about 7 hours including 4 hours of bulk fermentation and 2 hours of prooving.  


Definitely, my starter looks lack of leavening power , which makes fermentation long as you said.Then, how can I get yeasts be  active enough ?  Could more regular feeding make yeasts powerful , like as 3 times feeding a day ?

What temperature is ideal for the sourdough rise ?  I have tried different temperature, around 28C or 30C  along with room temp. 23C.  However , there seemed to be no big difference. 


I am making another loaf now and posting pics of whole process today.  Please come back and give some more advice.


Thank you 


rossnroller 2010 November 6

So that shouldn't be an issue.

Also, from your description, your starter sounds pretty lively. You could experiment with 3 feeds per day and see what happens, but 2 should be fine to maintain your starter in a healthy state.

Opinions vary on the best time to use your starter. Some recommend just after it's peaked as the ideal time, while others - including Shiao-Ping, whom I rate as one of the best amateur artisan bakers I've come across - find that using it just before it peaks is best. Personally, my experience is that it doesn't make much difference. As long as you use it within an hour or so of its peak, either before or after - or right at its peak when it is at full dome - I find it works well. I suspect the period of optimal use is even longer than a couple of hours as long as your ambient temperatures are not extreme.

Something you might like to try: lowering the hydration of your starter (which means, of course, adjusting your recipe). That might give your bread more lift. Some folk think it does. Why not give it a try? We're all learning all the time. Part of the challenge and excitement of SD bread baking is that it is a flexible process, with all sorts of variables involved. Experimenting is a great learning opportunity IMO. What works well for one baker might not work as well for another due to all the factors that can be different: flour, starter, region, temperature, humidity etc...

Congratulations on doing as well as you've done so far.



molifemo 2010 November 7

Thanks Ross,


As you advised, I am going to experiment 3 regular feedings a day and see what changes will come up.


Now I can see what's problem with my sourdough breads. Lack of yeasts' activity and excess of bacteria's activity, this is my conclusion .






rossnroller 2010 November 7

This thread will be extremely interesting to you, I'm certain. It contains some fascinating comparisons of French T55 flour with American flours, with the thread contributors including some of the very best bakers on The Fresh Loaf forum, including one based in France.

The flour comparisons these guys are making are often complex and cover a lot of territory, but in a nutshell, T55 flour absorbs far less water and therefore results in a stickier dough than many other bread flours. I suspect this goes a long way to explaining why your dough is as it is. Also, have a look at the comments on water and its effect on bread. Fascinating stuff.

It's a long thread, but if you make the effort to read through it all carefully, I feel sure that you will find it illuminating and it may well answer just about all your questions.

I'm now more convinced than ever that your starter is healthy and active, and is not the reason for your breads not meeting your expectations. Keep experimenting, by all means, but I know that if I was you, the first experiment I would try would be to change your flour.

From your profile, it seems you're in Melbourne? Why not try some good local organic flour and see how you go. I use Eden Valley, which is organic, biodynamic and stone-ground - and it is superb in flavour and behaviour, I find. Kialla is another good one that might be more readily available where you are. Ditto Laucke.

Finally, as you'll note on the thread I linked to, the French baker who began the thread concludes that SD bread recipes in American books do not work well with T55 and some other French flours, simply because the American flours are quite different for a whole lot of reasons - including, notably, water absorption properties. I have several books by some of the most acclaimed of the American bread gurus, and have found that their recipes work well with any Australian flours I have used (always organic, in my case). I don't know where you sourced your recipe, but thought the above was worth mentioning.

Hope the content of the flour comparison thread helps you sort out your current issues. I'm confident it will.

Best of baking to you!


molifemo 2010 November 7


Now I am thinking of changing flour for a starter.  I have used  Kialla flour for the culture and T55 from france for the starter and the  dough.  


I had stayed in Melbourne but now am staying in my home country ,South Korea where flour is very limited. I think that the two flour , Kialla and T55 , would be the only best option that I could take here.  I also use local flour here  but it is not organic but just unbleached so I am not certain of it's performance.   T55 seems not to work well with my starter so ther are two options , Kialla and local flour.  


I usually refer to  ' Local bread', Advanced bread and pastry ( by Michel Suas) and ' bread builders'.  They are all American books...  Surely I have overlooked the difference of every different flour.  


Thank you for your kind help,



rossnroller 2010 November 7

Anyway, good you can get Kialla flour. That's worth trying in place of the French T55 flour.

Since you can get French T55 flour, can you get T65 flour, I wonder? Some very favourable comments on that in the thread I linked to in my previous post.

Mo, something else you could try since T55 flour is one of those that is easily obtainable in Korea: whenever you're using the T55, experiment with lowering the hydration of any recipe you're doing that is sourced from an American book. If you've read through the link I posted in the previous post, you'll know why I'm suggesting this.

I'm out of ideas now...but as stated, I really think that French-American flour comparison discussion has some extremely valuable information in it that should address any issues you're having.

All the best

molifemo 2010 November 7


I think I could get T65 from my friend who is a professional baker . 


Now I am making another loaf with local bread flour. This time, I reduced water a little so the dough was much less sticky and more workable. 


The dough is now at bulk fermentation , but still there is no improvement on rising the dough.

I warmed up the dough slightly to shorten fermentation but am not sure whether it will work out. 


As for the sticky dough problem, I will take your advice and try different flours also using different hydration.

However, I have no idea how to get my starter have strong leavening power. In your case, how long do you need for bulk fermentation and proof ?


Thank you for all the help ,



rossnroller 2010 November 8

Therefore, it is not very meaningful to compare my bulk and final proof times with yours. It all depends on the recipe and technique used, the flours, the starter, ambient temps etc etc.

As a GENERAL guide - and that's all it is - for my bulk proof at this time of year (temps in low - mid 20s), and for my regular SD breads, I autolyse 40 minutes or so, then add salt and begin the bulk proof, with stretch and folds every hour, or maybe every 30 minutes initially if the dough seems to need it. My average bulk proof is around 3 - 3.5 hours, final proof comprises an overnight retardation in the fridge (about 7 -9 hours usually), and I bake straight out of the fridge next day. These proof times change with the seasons and the ambient temperatures...and may change with different recipes.

As mentioned before, I don't think your starter is the issue here. Others may disagree - but all any of us can do is to make an educated guess.

Along with previous posts, that's about all I can say. I strongly urge you to read through the thread I linked to - carefully. Maybe someone else will have more to say, but I really think all you need to know is in that thread.

Also, as well as trying different flour, I think you should try another recipe - one that is reliable and works well for others. eg: Hamelman's Vermont Rye. That is a very popular one, and is a proven winner.



snbmcguire 2012 January 10

Try cooking the loaf until very dark brown on top.  I have covered mine with semolina, so if I were baking your loaf, it would be dark brown all over, like the darkest patches on my loaf.

Also, My oven is 230 degrees Celsius (450 degrees Fahrenheit) and I cook the loaf at that temperature.

Don't slice or try the loaf until it is cold.  It will always taste like dough while hot.

Good luck.

cynthia7214 2012 February 14

I made my first sourdough starter about three months ago and all was going good - my question is it seems to be to sour for me - is there a way to counteract that? And how do I keep it from happening again?  Also when I feed my starter, I remove 1 cup then add 1 cup water (I have boiled the water and let it sit out for 72 hours before using) and 1 cup flour (I use white because I like white bread), do I leave it out to ferment after I feed it or put it right back in the frig?

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 February 14

Hello Cynthia,

Or is it the bread that is too sour?

One of the big contributors to sourness is time.  The sourness comes from acid production by various bacteria (primarily lactobacillus but also others) that work over a longer time frame than the yeasts.  Storing in the fridge slows the activity of both down.

You don't indicate how long it is between feeds/uses, but more frequent feeding is one way to reduce the acid concentration - less is produced and what is there is diluted by the new feed.  I have also read that hydration of the starter has an effect but I can't recall just at the moment which way is less and which is more.  If you are adding one cup of water to one cup of flour then you are over 100%.  Maybe cut back to three quarters of a cup of water and see what happens.  Also if you remove one cup and add a cup each of flour and water then the volume of your starter must be increasing at a fair sort of rate - or is there something I am missing?

The other thing is, and it is a matter of personal preference, unless your water comes from a non-treated supply, there is no real need to boil it and I certainly couldn't see any value in leaving it for that amount of time.

Not sure whether this helps but good luck with your projects.


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