If you’re making your own bread, you’ll probably have to spend quite a bit of time learning to troubleshoot the recipe before you start getting amazing loaves. A lot of things can go wrong, and if your dough won’t turn smooth, you might be feeling pretty frustrated.
The commonest causes of lumpy or cracked dough are failure to knead the dough properly, or using the wrong kind of flour. If your flour doesn’t contain enough protein, the dough will not turn smooth. You may also not be handling the dough properly, which could result in lumpiness or cracking.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the top issues you might run into with getting smooth dough. It’s important to perfect your dough’s texture so that you get a great loaf at the end of the baking process.
What Causes Ragged Dough & How To Solve It?
There are three main issues that can cause your dough to be ragged, so let’s work through each one, and look at some top solutions for this issue. This should put you in a good position to solve it and get your bread back on track. The problems that tend to cause rough dough are:
- Failing to knead the dough correctly
- Not using protein-rich flour
- Handling the dough improperly
Let’s check each of these out, find out where you’re going wrong, and look at what you can do to solve it!
1. Failing To Knead The Dough Correctly
Kneading dough is a lot of work – often far more than beginners expect it to be. Many people who make bread for the first time simply don’t knead the dough enough, and this prevents it from turning smooth.
Even if you knead the dough for the amount of time the recipe suggests, you won’t have mastered an efficient technique, and this will mean your dough stays ragged. The gluten won’t have developed sufficiently.
To check whether you have kneaded your dough sufficiently, you should do a poke test and a windowpane test.
The poke test simply involves rolling your dough into a ball and prodding your finger to about an inch deep in it. Take your finger out and see how quickly the dough springs back. If the dent remains, more kneading is required.
The windowpane test means taking a small piece of your dough and pressing it thin. You should then gently pull and stretch the dough until it’s as thin as you can get it without it tearing. It should get so thin you can see light coming through it if you hold it up.
If it tears before this point, you need to knead the dough more.
2. Not Using Protein-Rich Flour
Most people find that strong white bread flour is the best way to get smooth bread dough. It’s got lots of protein in it, which means long strands of gluten will develop and the dough will have lots of elasticity.
If you use a flour with less protein, such as rye flour or just all-purpose flour, your dough will not become as smooth and you’ll have to do more kneading. Even with extra work, you might not be able to get really smooth dough.
Beginners should generally practice making loaves with strong white bread flour before moving on to more challenging flours.
3. Handling The Dough Improperly
Again, this is usually a problem that inexperienced bakers run into. As you get used to handling dough, you’ll improve your confidence and your technique.
Should you add more flour to sticky dough?
If your dough is persistently sticky, adding a little more flour to it may help. Be careful, though; adding too much flour will make your bread chewy and unpleasant.
How long should you knead bread dough?
There’s no set amount of time for kneading bread dough; use the tests mentioned above to see whether your dough has developed enough elasticity, and continue kneading it if not.
Do you need to flour the surface?
Dusting your counter with flour will prevent the bread from sticking too much while you’re kneading it.
Bread dough that isn’t smooth may require more kneading or a better tensioning technique, or it might be lacking in protein. Use strong white bread flour, watch some online videos, and test its elasticity with the poke test and window pane test.