I often see the directions "If it's too sticky, add more flour". This usually comes shortly after "Add as little flour as possible." Being a perfectionist, these two instructions combine to make me an agitated baker. In general, how sticky is too sticky? Does a general answer to that question exist? I know that, no matter what, my 100% hydration pain au levain will be a lot different than a 60% whole wheat or something. However, how often should I be putting aside the dough for bulk ferment and then washing gobs of dough off my hands?
Adding to this confusion is that, when I've made bread with the KitchenAid in the past, the bread can be sticky and leave flour on the sides of the bowl for the first nine minutes of kneading and then poof something magical happens in the last minute and it stops being sticky, gathers the rest of the flour from the sides of the bowl, and is very pleasant to work with. Should I be adding flour until something like that happens? Or perhaps kneading it with the lower flour amount until that happens? I feel this is related enough not to create another question but I can do so if needed. Thank you!