The Real Reason Your Sourdough Is Too Sticky

Raise your hand if you're in love with baking bread! Whether you started baking more during the pandemic, as many people did, or are just a couple of months into mastering your sourdough starter, you surely understand the powerful and healing feeling of kneading dough with your own two hands. You may also find yourself pretty close to perfecting your fluffy sourdough bread recipe but not there quite yet.

It goes something like this: You wake your starter, adventurously mix flours, and properly hydrate your dough before proofing and baking. But in the end, the loaf isn't bulky enough. You want it to be chewier, lighter, and slightly more acidic. Sometimes it ends up too sticky and hard to remove from the baking surface. Where did it go wrong?

There is no reason to worry: Baking sourdough bread is tough, and the process can be tedious and exhausting. It's easy to commit mistakes when baking bread, especially a sourdough recipe that requires so much attention to detail. There's always something new to learn and apply to each step of the process. One key tip, though, is the proper preparation of your baking surface before your bread even goes in the oven.

Dust your baking surface with flour or cornmeal

According to Real Simple, one reason your sourdough gets too sticky and hard to remove from your counter or baking pan is that you didn't coat it first. What to use as a stickiness-preventing coat? Try a dusting of flour or cornmeal on the dough and your surface, and place a layer of parchment paper down for good measure. The Sourdough School also recommends using semolina to dust your baking surface. Whatever coating ingredient you use, it will make the process of picking up your proofed bread much easier.

Now we have the dusting down, some other ground rules can help you even more. Most recipes will tell you to sprinkle your bread with a little bit of flour, especially while handling the dough, which is a good tip. However True Sourdough recommends not dusting on too much flour, as this could make your dough too dry and dense. On that note, when shaping and kneading, use a light hand with the dusting flour. With this in mind, you may be closer to perfecting your sourdough bread. Enjoy the process!