How to Fix it When Bread Dough is Too Wet

It’s true that bread dough needs moisture, and high-hydration loaves of bread are undeniably delicious. But too much of anything is never a good thing – especially when it comes to bread dough.

Too much water in the bread dough will cause the dough to be sticky and challenging to work with. It may also collapse while baking due to the weight of the water.

If you notice that your bread dough is way too wet, don’t panic. There are a few simple solutions that will fix this problem. The easiest fix is to add more flour. You can also let the bread dough sit a little longer to dry out naturally.

Hello! My name’s Michelle, a bread baker, and lover. I bake and eat bread regularly, whether for breakfast sandwiches or garlic bread with an Italian-inspired dish. Regardless, I’ve discovered ways to fix wet dough – and, more importantly, how to prevent it in the first place.

“Doughn’t” worry about the wet dough – keep reading to learn how to fix and prevent it.

What Happens to Bread Dough That’s Too Wet?

Is there really a problem with wet bread dough? Yes, there is. There are a few possible adverse outcomes that can occur from over-hydrated bread dough.

1. Difficult to Knead and Shape

Bread dough needs to be kneaded and shaped before baking. Kneading will produce the essential carbon dioxide for rising while shaping creates the gorgeous aesthetics of the loaf. 

But have you ever tried to work with bread dough that’s too wet? It becomes a sticky mess that is almost impossible to work with sticky bread dough. It will stick to the surface and your hands, which means you won’t be able to knead or shape it without a serious fight.

2. Flat and Dense Outcome

Let’s say you managed to successfully knead and shape your oversaturated bread dough; good for you. You popped it into the oven, and now you’re waiting for the aroma of delicious, fresh bread to fill your kitchen.

Then you go to open your oven – only to find a sunken loaf

What happened?

Not only did the moisture weigh down the gluten and cause the loaf to deflate, but it produced a dense texture that was anything but enjoyable.

3. Lack of Flavor

It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a bowl of macaroni and cheese or a tasty loaf of bread – adding too much water will dilute the other ingredients, leading to a lack of flavor. 

How to Fix Bread Dough That’s Too Wet

Challenging dough and a flat, dense, and flavorless loaf? Sounds like a nightmare. If you end up with over-hydrated bread dough, don’t think you’re destined for failure. There are three simple fixes you can try.

1. Add More Flour

The best way to fix bread dough that is too wet is to add more flour. You only want to add flour a tablespoon at a time. You don’t want to accidentally end up with bread dough that is too dry. Otherwise, your bread dough will be stiff and unmanageable and likely won’t rise as it should.

Whether kneading by hand or using a bread machine, add one tablespoon of flour to your bread dough. Continue kneading and adding flour until you are satisfied with your bread dough’s look and feel. 

Keep in mind that if you add more than a cup of flour, you will need to up the other ingredients – especially if your recipe calls for herbs and spices. The excess flour will overpower the remaining ingredients, leaving you with a lackluster loaf. 

2. Wait it Out

Some bread simply needs more time to proof, especially if it has a low yeast content (less than 2% yeast in the recipe). If this is the case, place your bread dough in the fridge during the first rise. This will slow fermentation, ensuring all moisture gets soaked up.

3. Work With It

Experienced bread bakers might consider “toughing it out,” especially if there isn’t too high of water content. To do this, you will need to get your workstation wet with water or a bit of oil. From there, you can fold the dough into itself repetitively until you’re happy with the shape.

How to Prevent Overly Wet Dough

I am a person that likes to be proactive about things. That said, I’m always looking to ward off mishaps like overly wet dough. Here are some of the best ways to prevent ending up with excessively wet dough.

1. Always Weigh Ingredients

Measuring cups and spoons are great and definitely serve a purpose, but if you want to be more accurate with your measurements, you will need to weigh them. By weighing the ingredients – especially flour – you know exactly how much is being added, fending off the overly wet or dry dough.

2. Sift Your Flour

Weighing your ingredients won’t do much good if there are clumps causing a misreading. That said, you should always sift your dry ingredients. This will ensure you have an accurate measurement that prevents wet and dry bread dough.

3. Reduce the Water Content

Are you using the same recipe and keep ending up with wet dough? Are you trying out a new bread recipe and are unsure if the water content is correct?

Regardless of the situation you’re dealing with, the answer remains the same: set aside 10% of the water called for in the recipe. 

That way, you don’t accidentally add too much water, and you can always add more if you need it.

Tip: Right down how much water the recipe actually needs for future use!

FAQs

Now you know why overly wet bread dough should be avoided, how to fix it, and how to prevent it in the future. If you’re still curious to learn more about this topic, here are a few more questions to check out.

Can you bake wet dough?

There’s no rule that says you can’t. In fact, an overly wet dough can render amazing results. But that’s a risk! Wet bread dough can also cause the loaf of bread to sink and become a dense and unpleasant mess destined for the trash can.

How can I thicken dough without flour?

Cornstarch, potato starch, and tapioca starch are three thickeners that can work in place of flour when it comes to thickening a dough. However, it’s best to opt for classic flour.

Does kneading dough make it less sticky?

Most of the time, yes, kneading dough can make it less sticky. But if you’re struggling with an overly wet dough, it may be too challenging to manage from the get-go – so you will never get the opportunity to knead it to make it less sticky. 

Wet Dough is a No-No, But It’s a Quick Fix!

A wet dough can render dough that is difficult to shape and knead, and the result can be dense, flat, and tasteless. To fix wet dough, all you need to do is add flour – tablespoon by tablespoon – until you’re satisfied. You can also wait it out, in some circumstances, or try and work with it.

Do you struggle with overly wet dough? How do you fix it? Share in the comments below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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