Of all the lessons our students have learned over the years, two stand out. The first is that many people do not knead their bread dough vigorously or long enough. The second is that many people work with dough that is too dry. The result of kneading and hydrating dough insufficiently is dough that becomes bread that is a brick: small, dry, hard, and earnest. Good for building. Less good for eating *unless toasted OF COURSE because everything is good toasted*. Energetic kneading of wetter and stickier dough, on the other hand, results in well risen, light, and moist bread. YUM. YUM we say!
You can watch a video about kneading here in order to see one way of stretching out your dough so that you activate the gluten and help your dough rise.
You can watch a video here about kneading sticky dough.
You can also gaze at the photos to see what sticky dough looks like close up. See how this dough is sticking to the surface (a scraper helps to bring it back again to enable you to continue kneading. The lumps are mashed potato, by the way. Recipe here.
See how it sticks to your hands and gets between your fingers. See how it stretches out when you pull it.
All this is good. All this is right. All this is JUST FINE.
The lesson – don’t panic. Sticky is good. Sticky is good.
Still confused? Come and take a baking course with us and we guarantee you will knead some sticky dough and lose your fear of it forever!