Why Is My Dough Too Sticky?So your dough is too sticky—what gives? Generally, while dough should be a little tacky to the touch, it shouldn’t cling to your hands (certain types of bread might call for a stickier dough, but unless that’s stated in the recipe, sticky dough is a no-go). Most often, the problem is too much water in the dough. Flour can be tricky, and factors like temperature, humidity, and altitude can affect how much water your flour absorbs. High humidity can cause the flour to start absorbing water before you even start mixing. Additionally, using cold water rather than warm water can cause the gluten to leak out, which leads to a sticky dough.
Can I Just Add More Flour?If your dough really is unbelievably sticky, you can try adding a teaspoon of flour at a time but proceed with caution. Too much added flour can actually end up ruining your dough. Remember, baking is a science, and ingredient measurements matter.
Does Kneading Dough Make It Less Sticky?Generally, yes, kneading the dough more can make it less sticky. The drawback to more kneading is risking a denser dough, which will lead to a flatter, chewier bread.
Fixing Sticky Bread Dough Before RisingThe earlier you catch a sticky dough problem, the better. There are some measures you can take to prevent and remedy sticky dough in the early stages. This also counts for breads that don’t require active yeast.
- When mixing ingredients, hold back about 40% of the water the recipe calls for. Then slowly add more as needed until your dough is the right consistency.
- Make sure you’re mixing the dough thoroughly. Mix it long enough so that it’s smooth and slightly bouncy to the touch.
- As mentioned above, add small increments of flour as needed, as little as possible.
- Use a dough scraper to ensure you’re getting all the ingredients off the side of the bowl and mixing them in.
- Use a small amount of oil to prevent dough from sticking to your hands too much and aid the kneading process. You’ll likely have to oil the bowl anyway when it’s time to rise, anyway.
Fixing Sticky Bread Dough After RisingIf you’ve already mixed and kneaded your dough and placed it in a bowl to rise, there’s still hope. You might find that your dough is sticking to the bowl. During the first rise, your bread should roughly double in size. After the first rise, you would normally knead the dough again. However, if you find your dough is too sticky at this point, do not knead it again. Instead, gently press and deflate the dough. You can also use a light coating of flour on your hands and working surface to press and stretch the dough.
What About Sticky Cookie Dough?When it comes to cookie dough, stickiness is likely due to temperature. When you’re kneading cookie dough, the natural temperature of your hands will warm it up, making it a bit sticky (especially if butter and eggs are involved). The simplest way to avoid this is to chill your dough in the refrigerator after mixing and kneading. Pro tip: Place your dough on parchment paper before putting it in the fridge to make it even easier to remove and lay out when it’s time to prep for baking.