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Why Is My Bread Dough Sticky

Why Is My Bread Dough Sticky? Answered (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Lori Walker

Have you ever tried making dough from scratch, but it’s a bit sticky? Or bought dough that’s constantly sticking on your work surface? If you answered yes, you’re in the right place.

While a sticky dough isn’t bad, it can be tricky if you’re new to baking.

If you’re looking to answer the query “why is my bread dough sticky,” read on as we’ll share with you what we discovered.

3 Reasons Why Your Bread Dough Is Sticky

sticky dough on a wooden board

1. Weak Gluten Structure

Wheat contains a natural protein called gluten, which contributes baking properties of flour [1]. Gluten also makes the dough stretchy and elastic through kneading.

So if you have a sticky dough, it’s probably due to weak gluten development. Therefore, you should knead the dough to improve gluten strength. 

Also, avoid using cold water since it prevents the development of gluten.

Instead, add warm water to your bread dough to activate the yeast and start the process of rising. 

Read: 6 Solutions To Save Sourdough That Is Not Holding Shape

2. High Water Content

Another reason why you have sticky dough is its high water content. Remember, the dough hydration percentage is based on the flour content of the recipe.

Thus, adding more water than needed will result in a sticky dough. In addition, a high-hydration dough can be tricky to handle as it will stick to everything.

In general, higher hydration doughs have great crumb and flavor.

Learning how to handle stickier dough is ideal to make a great loaf.

3. Flour Type

Aside from adding more flour to the dough, beginners often fail due to using the wrong flour type, but flour has primary differences, such as protein content [2].

So picking the right flour for your bread recipe matters as it can lead to success or trouble. For instance, use wheat flour when baking bread to make heavier goods.

To make fluffy, flaky, and chewy goods, use all-purpose flour with a protein content of 10% to 12%. In short, the dough recipe requires a specific type of flour.

Read: How Can You Save A Runny Cookie Dough?

What Makes It Sticky?

Water

One of the top reasons for a sticky dough is adding too much water. As stated earlier, high hydration makes the dough stick from everything.

Thus, it is essential to understand and learn how to control the hydration level. In addition, adding more water to your dough will require a longer kneading process.

Flour

Again, the common mistake beginners make is adding too much of everything. So if you feel your dough is sticky, don’t add too much flour.

For instance, don’t add more flour if you have sticky pizza dough. Its stickiness may be due to high water content or lack of gluten strength. 

Mixing

Lastly, using the wrong mixing techniques can make your dough too sticky. 

You might have mixed the ingredients in the wrong proportions or used an alternate ingredient that did not match the recipe.

“The secret is to sort of knead it gently. Don’t overwork it. It’s a sort of easy bread to make a nice one to start off with when you’re making bread for the first time.”

– Gordon Ramsay, British Chef

Moreover, it may be due lack of gluten, and it requires more kneading. However, cookie dough doesn’t need to be kneaded, so implementing the right techniques is also important in baking.

Read: What Causes My Peach Cobbler To Be So Gummy?

How To Save Sticky Bread Dough?

Begin With Low Hydration

Different recipes require varying water levels. If you’re a beginner, the best way to avoid all the stickiness and mess is to start with low-hydration dough.

Keep the water level around 60% to 65% to avoid sticky dough. Then, start kneading the dough and slowly add the remaining water the recipe requires. 

Add Extra Flour

Added flour can increase your dough’s viscosity and reduce stickiness. For instance, viscous cookie dough can be saved by adding dry ingredients to remove extra moisture.

The same goes for pizza dough. After kneading for around 10 to 15 minutes and it’s still viscous, add little flour to dry out the dough.

Use Dough Scrapers

A dough scraper is another useful tool you should keep to save your dough. A plastic scraper will come in handy to scrap the bowl where you mix the dough.

After kneading, you should also get a flat metal scraper for cutting or removing the dough on the work surface.

Oil Your Dough

Lastly, oil can make your dough less sticky. When kneading in a surface or bowl, add little oil to your dough to knead it easily. The oil will be kneaded in the dough, making it easy to handle.

Once the oil is kneaded, you can make the dough less sticky and easier to remove from the mixing bowl.

Read: 5 Ways To Save Your Over-Kneaded Dough

How To Save Sticky Bread Dough After First Rise?

You can still save well-kneaded dough after the first rise by coating your fingers and the surface with flour. Do not knead it. Gently punch down the dough with your fist to remove the air.

Add flour little by little while punching down the dough until it’s no longer sticky.

How To Save It After The Second Rise?

kneading a sticky dough

If you have a viscous dough after the second rise, you can no longer knead it or punch it down. Just dust the dough and your hands with flour. Then, shape the dough to bake it.

You can also make it less viscous outside, so you can shape it and bake it.

What To Do If Bread Dough Is Too Sticky After Proofing?

A viscous dough, after proofing, can only be saved by gently punching it down and drying it out by adding small amounts of flour at first rise.

Do note that after the second rise, you can only use flour to dry out the outside of the dough and shape it to start baking. 

Find out why your dough shrinks when you roll it here.

FAQs

How do you knead sticky dough?

You can knead a sticky dough by dusting it with flour or adding oil. You can also use water to prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface or scraper.

Also, you can use cold water to remove the dough sticking from your hand.

Can I put sticky dough in the oven?

Yes, you can still put a sticky dough in the oven. Although it’s not as firm as it should be, you can still bake it in the oven.

But why is the center of your cake not cooked?

Will sticky dough rise? 

Yes, it will still rise. Dough that contains high water content will result in light and moist baked goods. 

Bottom Line

To summarize, the bread-making process requires the right ingredients, techniques, and steps. You’ll also need a lot of patience, especially if it’s your first time making your own dough.

The next time you struggle, don’t panic if your dough is too sticky. With these simple tips, you can save your dough and turn it into flavored baked goods.

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/gluten
  2. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/baking-guide/flour-101-guide-to-different-types-and-uses 
Lori Walker

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