Hydration and kneading


For the last 6 months I have been using much wetter doughs that take a lot of hand or hand/processor kneading to get the dough silky and not sticky. Though harder work the resultant doughs have lead to much nicer and better aerated (holey) breads which seem to be very popular with whoever tries them (I'm mean, so I don't often share them!). This also applies to my sourdoughs which are becoming my staple bread. Does any one else have experience of wetter doughs and what are their results?
Cheers, Brian

badge posted by: brianjwood on September 05, 2010 at 4:39 am in Baking, misc.
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reply by: PaddyL on September 05, 2010 at 12:36 pm

The only really wet doughs I've made are the ciabatta ones, and they are wet! I let the standing mixer do most of the work, then try to corral the messy dough straight on a baking sheet lined with parchment. I then grease some plastic wrap (clingfilm to you) cover them, and let them rise. If you have an extremely wet dough, you'd have to let it rise in something, like a banneton or lined collander or whatever. I either grease my hands or wet them before handling wetter dough. The result is lovely and holey and it does rise to the occasion, I find, generally.

reply by: brianjwood on September 06, 2010 at 4:36 am

Sorry for a slow reply PaddyL, I'm only just getting in to the habit of checking for replies! I know what you meant about ciabatta, I make that and it is a challenge to handle (that sounds like government speak for "Help, we got ourself in another mess!")The doughs I'm making though seem to build up a strong inner structure by repeated folding and pressing moves after the dough has risen twice (and the dough itself takes a LOT of kneading before it stops feeling sticky). After that the dough will rise and hold its form very well. Neither of the breads in my photos used a mould but rose unsupported.
Cheers, Brian
ps I think you greeted me on joining, as did Beachdee and others? I only just saw that bit but belated thanks for all who did. The layout still seems odd to me.

reply by: toffee on September 07, 2010 at 10:40 am

I almost always have a wetter dough with whatever bread I make. I don't use flour on my board to knead when I choose something other than the bread machine. I spray Pam instead. My bread is consistently better now that I do that.

reply by: bellesaz on September 08, 2010 at 11:06 am


Do you measure your flour and your water? Or do you have a scale and weigh your ingredients? You may find better results with more exacting weighing. A measured cup of flour can be vastly different between bakers.

It also depends on the dough you're working with. I find some doughs should be wetter, while others should be tacky, but not wet. I don't bake levains - we don't care for them in our house, so I'm not overly familiar with the doughs, but I do make alot of breads with poolish and biga's.. and lately I've been experimenting with different kneading techniques and enjoying a whole new experience in baking. Thank you Mr. Bertinet! :)

reply by: brianjwood on September 09, 2010 at 4:38 am

Bellesaz, I weigh my ingredients always for baking (I use a Salter add and weigh machine that handles liquids too), have done for years now. I weigh the water too, a la Bertinet. As for levain versus poolish and bigas, they're pretty much the same, different origins but for me the levain, where you retain a piece of dough from one baking session to use in the next, is the ultimate lazy baker's (that's me!) dream. I think I've mentioned that I run two, one rye based, the other white with spelt added. Although I use Bertinet as a guide now, my first experience was from a book called 'No Need To Knead' by Susanne Dunaway. That proved to be an inspiration, especially with ciabatta. The difference between her and Bertinet is the way he works and folds the dough - it definitely makes the dough more resilient and able to hold its shape as it rises. His ciabatta was a better riser than hers, though the taste was excellent for both. A KA dvd helped immensely too with the working of the dough - they say a picture paints a thousand words and I believe it! M Bertinet's dvd cemented it, plus it convinced me to make the effort to find and use fresh yeast, another breakthrough, obvious but it took me a while to make the effort - I said I was lazy. Your point about some doughs being (needing to be, rather) wetter than others is very true, I'm still learning on that one. I do find wholemeal doughs(50/50 mix with white)much stickier and reluctant to turn into the silky dough that the white does. They bake 'heavier' too but I guess that goes with the flour? Maybe KA will comment on that?
Happy baking, tomorrow I'm baking baguettes, one normal, the other epe (I hope that's right, it's the one that looks like an ear of wheat, very pretty)to go with a tapas evening.
Cheers, Brian

reply by: uninvited-guest on October 02, 2010 at 2:19 am

After discovering Peter Reinhart's bread books, I am always making very wet doughs.