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It was my first time baking and followed a simple bread recipe. The ingredients are listed below. My problem was after mixing, before kneading, the dough was still very sticky and stuck onto my hand even before I started kneading it. In the video that I watched using that recipe, the dough wasn't that sticky. Can someone explain me why it happened and how can I remedy it?

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 5 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 cup fresh milk warm
  • 6 grams rapid rise yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 piece raw egg
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Can you share a link to the video or recipe post? That might help debug your problem. Even knowing what kind of bread the recipe was for would help. – Bloodgain May 1 at 17:47
  • I was following thus recipe. The audio in the video is not in English but the instructions in the website is in English. panlasangpinoy.com/filipino-food-bread-of-salt-pandesal-recipe – Noiz May 2 at 6:42
  • The dough in his video doesn't look very sticky, you're right. However, it doesn't look as dry as I expected, especially with half bread flour. He kneads it in more flour but still sticks breadcrumbs to it. I'd probably start with 4.5 ounces (128 grams) per cup here and knead in more dough if it was still sticky. The rest is covered in the answers already. – Bloodgain May 3 at 1:25
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You may have done nothing wrong, it's common for bread dough to be very sticky after mixing. If you have your measuring right and the recipe is right time and technique will turn it from sticky to smooth.

There's 3 things that will happen:

  • Absorption: flour doesn't absorb moisture instantly, most gets absorbed very quickly, but then some takes a bit more time
  • Breakdown of carbohydrates: Enzymes in the flour break down carbohydrates into sugars, this process uses water
  • Gluten development: glutenin and gliadin are the proteins which form gluten, when they do so they use water. This will happen naturally through enzyme action and yeast action

All these processes happen naturally, and will happen in your case if you get let it sit for awhile, known as letting it autolyse. I use this step in my bread making, and it makes a big difference in the stickiness and workability of the dough. It also reduces kneading time and effort by a large factor as some of the gluten development will happen without effort. It still may be sticky after autolysing, but that will go away as you knead it, assuming you aren't using the stretch and fold technique. Try letting it sit for 20 minutes, better yet an hour.

Your dough may still be a bit sticky after all this happens as its an enriched dough with lots of butter, sugar and egg. It may even still be tacky after kneading it, that's normal too and will probably go away after your first rise.

If it's still very wet after kneading your balance to wet and dry may have been off, in which case you should knead in small amounts of flour (a spoon at a time) until it's tacky. Don't rush it and don't add too much flour or it will go the other way and be too dry. This is why I weigh everything instead of using volume measurements in baking: small amounts matter. I even weigh water because it lets me be very consistent with the results. I would recommend you get a scale and convert to metric as it just works so much easier.

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Measuring flour by volume is notoriously unreliable. Your flour was likely less packed than that in the recipe, and as a result your dough was stickier. When this happens, you need to add a bit more flour until the dough reaches the desired texture. Recipes that use weight measurements tend to be more reliable, especially for things with a lot of flour such as bread.

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    Also, different flours need different amounts of moisture. Most noticeable is white all purpose vs. whole wheat, but also rye vs wheat. I also found that what is considered all purpose in Italy varies in from what is considered all purpose in Germany (and North America was yet different - but that may have been also due to extremely low air humidity in winter) – cbeleites unhappy with SX May 2 at 20:55
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If we assume 5 ounces (weight) per cup of flour -- which is usually where I start with recipes that don't specify -- we get 20 ounces of flour. The 10 ounces of milk gets us to 50% hydration. Butter and egg will add a bit more moisture, so let's just estimate and call it 55-60% at most now. Butter is mostly fat, which will soften but not hydrate the dough. The same goes for oil and sugar, and that seems like a lot of sugar for bread. This is a rich, moderately low hydration bread, so it should be a very soft but not very sticky bread. It's possible the recipe was aiming for a higher hydration, using lighter "cups" than 5 ounces, and for a rich dough that would be common. But it sounds like you came up short on flour even then.

There are a few things you can do here:

  • Let the dough rest for 20-60 minutes to absorb and for gluten to begin developing
    • Both factors will decrease stickiness
    • This would be called "autolyse" and is a common bread-making step
  • Add flour to your kneading surface and knead it into the dough
    • I would usually recommend kneading without flour or very little, for comparison
    • Also note that the dough will become less sticky during kneading as gluten develops, so don't add too much
  • Increase the amount of flour used next time
    • For best results, weigh the flour, write down how much you used and the outcome
    • Adjust again the time after that if needed
  • Add even more fat
    • e.g. knead with oily hands on an oily surface
    • This is probably unnecessary for your dough, which is already quite rich, but can help sometimes. Think focaccia or pan pizza.
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