Is my dough too wet?


I need to use a silicone spatula to remove my proofed dough from it's glass container to form it into a loaf.  Is my dough too wet if I have to use this spatula?


3 1/4 cups flour

1 3/8 cups water

Autolyse for 45 minutes

1/4 cup of a liquid starter (about pancake batter consistency)

1 tsp salt

Proof for 12 hours, knock down and proof for an additional 5 hours.

After the 17 hours of proofing that is when I have to use the spatula to remove the dough from the glass bowl to form the loaf.

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farinam's picture
farinam 2016 February 29

Hello vet_ca,

17 hours is an awfully long time before even shaping your loaf unless you happen to live in a refrigerator.  Your hydration should be OK based on your recipe quantities so I would suggest that your dough is severely over-proved.  I would try something like 4 hours pre-ferment, shape your loaf and 4 hours proving.  The latter of course depends on the appearance of the dough in your container and response to the 'poke' test for readiness.

It is important to be driven by the properties and appearance of the dough rather than by the clock.  If you do need more time due to other committments then you can control that by retarding the process in the refrigerator.  SourDom gives a range of strategies for fitting your baking into a work/life schedule.

Good luck with your projects.


vet_ca 2016 March 2

Thank you for your reply Farinam.  Even after mixing (I use a Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook) the dough is very wet and sticky and requires a spatula to remove it from the stainless steel mixing bowl into the glass bowl for proving.  I do use the "poke" test to see if the dough is ready but each time I remove a little bit of dough because it sticks to my finger.

I really don't think the dough is overproved because the oven spring is amazing in most cases (if that's any indication).

I don't have a hectic work schedule because I'm a semi-retired veterinarian with lots of time on my hands. :)

If my liquid:solid ratio is OK I just don't understand why the dough is always so sticky.

I'll never say die :)


farinam's picture
farinam 2016 March 2

Hello Ron,

Cup measurements are notoriously inaccurate and not reproducible unless particular care is taken with the method of ingredient preparation and container filling.  Digital kitchen scales are quite cheap these days and can ensure that your ingredient mix is consistent from batch to batch.

You don't say how long you mix and at what speed but another possibility is the the dough is over developed before you start with too long/too vigourous working in the mixer.  You should be looking at only ,say, five or six minutes at speed setting one (or two at the most).

The other thing you could do would be to try using the stretch and fold method that SourDom outlines in his Beginners Blogs and see if that makes a difference to the dough characteristics.  Also, I don't recall whether I have pointed you here before but this blog of mine tries to give an impression of what to look for at various stages in the process.

After that, we get back to the flour that you are using.  If you have something like rye flour in your mix above a quite small percentage (say more than 10%) then the dough character will be sticky and more difficult to handle easily.

Good luck with your projects.


vet_ca 2016 March 3

Hello Farinam,

I guess my posts still lack pertinent information.  I will try to do much better in the future.

I only mix at setting one and for just as long as 1) the flour and water to fully combine and 2) the starter and salt to mix into the dough ball after the autolyse period of 45 minutes.

I use Ellison's Best enriched, presifted All Purpose flour (white).  It says it has 8gm protein / 60gm flour.  Locally I can also get large (20Kg) bags of "bread" flour, duram, whole wheat and a couple of others the names of which escape me at this moment.  But nothing "fresh" nor organic.

I tried to get flour from a local mill but that didn't work out (afraid that if word got out they would be innundated with requests for flour from the local people....right!!!!).  There is no organic source of flour in my vacinity and I'm not about to ship flour up to Canada.

Previously I was in the habit of mixing the dough by hand (wooden spoon in a glass bowl) but the current dough mixtures are way to sticky to do that.

I have purchased a digital kitchen scale and will try to use that.  Can't say anything about it's overall accuracy because it wants to take it's time to show me the weight.

The starter I use is from sourgough international (Don Wood) and is the San Francisco variety.  None of the recipies from this supplier provide any weights (only cups and tsps).  I have 2 active cultures in wide mouth mason jars that I alternate using.  I bake 1 to 2 loaves per week.  The home oven won't go much over 410F (measured by a purchased, mechanical oven thermometer). 

Thank you for the link to your blog...interesting read and pictures.

I did try going to SourDom's blog again but the link (Pane Francese (2) recipe (sponge)) on his Kneading and Mixing page throws a 404 error.

I use the proofing temperatures (68-72F or 85-90F) and times (up to 24 hours) to achieve the sour flavor I desire.  Before I started trying new things my loaves were excellent except for the air pockets.  Good color, good spring, big loaves, excellent flavor, excellent crust crack but a bit to dense.  Since I've been trying to get a more airy / artisan type loaf I've lost most of the flavor and the loaves aren't as big.

For this loaf (in preparation) I will be doing all the proof at kitchen temperature (out of the proofing box) and trying to find a recipe that uses weights but doesn't use refrigerator proofing.

I hope I have been more thorough in this post.  If not please feel free to ask any other questions.



farinam's picture
farinam 2016 March 3

Hello Ron,

Here is a link to Dom's recipes page.

I have reported the broken links to admin.  Must be a carry over from the migration to the new format I think.

The number 1 recipe is a very good basic one and is pretty much the one that I use for most of my day to day bread.  However, I generally take 90 g of my stock and build that with 45g flour and 45g water to give the 180g.

From your numbers, the flour is about 13% protein which is right up there.  I think the one that I use is 11.5%.  Maybe you could try the one sold as bread flour and see if that makes any difference.

You also give the impression that this 'stickiness' is a recent phenomenon so I am wondereing what else you have changed in the lead up to this problem.

I think your idea of working at room temperature is a good one.

Good luck with your projects.


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