Dough fails (runny, sticky, gooey mess)


Ok, I have now read all suggetions on what I think maybe my problem, either starter to weak, starter to strong, not enought starter, overkneading....I'm at my wit's end.

I feed my starter (either 2200 or 1000) and wait, I have watched it for every 15 minutes after 4 hours and tried when it was at the heigth, just before or just after. 

I autolyse my flour with just the water...after 1-2-3-4-5-6 hours (tried 'm all) I fold the starter into the dough.

Quite often it looks great in the beginning, the autolysed dough feels good, gooy and none to sticky.

After I add the starter, everytime all the time, it's just down hill, he dough disintegrates and goes from strong to ever more sticky and gooey. 

My recipe :

Starter 1:1:1 or 1:2:2 (and 3 or 4) starter: flour : water (flour is either splet, whole wheat rye, mix of all of the above) 

Basic bread recipe flour (=100%), water (=70-80%) starter (15-20%), salt (1,5%)

So I tried 1000 gram flour, 700 gram water, 150 gram starter, 15 gram salt

Thes percentages I found on "Sourdough University by Pro Home Cooks, the Bread Code (all youtube channels) and a whole lot of others.

Anyway I tried 700 down to 400 grams flour (as I got tired of baking the slop that remained and throwing out the runny dough residues. Ofcourse with adjusted water/starter/salt amounts.

I have tried managing the temperature, well I think I tried every thing.

The result is always a dough that is sticky, gooey, almost runny, never does it hold shape (it forms a circualr blob ont he bench after the 4th fold) and never have I ended up with an airy open crumb bread.

So, I'm about to call it quits, anyone got any tips?

94 users have voted.


Imor 2021 March 1

Have you tried lowering the hydration? I'm quite new to this but for a few bakes I did 75-80% hydration and these did not hold shape at all. Do you also do folds after mixing in the starter or only do final shaping, I understand the developing the gluten is important so it holds the shape better. 

Is the bread tasty after baking tho, I overproofed my first bread and even tho it was runny before baking it turned out quite nice.

AM 2021 April 8

Consider the extra water and flour that is being added to the autolyzed dough. You are probably exceeding the amount of water the flour you are using can handle. I'd suggest estimating and lowering the amount of water in flour during autolyse so that when you end up adding the starter, the extra water also gets absorbed. Also look up fullproofbaking's video on youtube. The process she follows really helped me out. The only issue I had was what you are having, with the dough just not developing gluten after the starter was added and the reason simply was that the amount of water I added exceeded the amount my flour could absorb. Flour from every mill is different and you need to find the right hydration for it.

Also, in case you again end up with a weak dough, just add more flour between each stretch and fold or coil foil, whichever you are doing to develop strength till you reach the right consistency as shown in the recipe. Make sure you note down how much more flour you are adding since that will give you an idea of the final hydration the flour you are using can handle.

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