First Time - Master w/starter So sticky, cant ball it


Hey guys. Pictures attached.
My first pizza attempt :) I failed.
Trying to work out where I went wrong. I just couldn't ball the dough. It was a sticky mess!

I *thought* I followed the book to the letter, but probably made a mistake somewhere.
Dough was super super sticky. I imagine it must have been over hydrated maybe?

-=POOLISH=-
0.36 grams fresh yeast
47 grams Caputo 00
47 grams bottled water (reverse ozmosis)
18 hours room temp

=-Master Dough=-
5.9 grams fresh yeast
70 grams warm water
453 grams Caputo 00 Reinforza flour
10 grams diastatic Malt
210 grams Ice water
90 grams Poolish (i didnt weigh this, i just assumed it was 90)
10 grams fine Pink Himalayan Salt
5 grams EVOO

It combined in the mixer almost instantly and didnt really leave any mess on the side of the stand mixer bowl. Seemed good at that stage.

Took it out on the bench and struggled to knead it due to sticking to my hands, but managed it ok. It was also sticking to the marble benchtop too a bit.

Balling it was a nightmare. so unbelievably sticky. Nothing I could do would help.

Any help would be appreciated. I have a video I can send as well to see how the balling process looked.

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John Soden
posted 10 months ago

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Did you put any flour on the bench when you were working it? Whenever my dough is sticky I just keep adding some flour on top while working it

Justin P.
posted 9 months ago


It's most likely the flour. Been making bread/pizza as a serious hobby for 40 years. Worked with sourdough cultures (Ed Woods-has collected all over the world and sells online), poolish method, long fermentation, fresh yeast, you name it to get more flavor in the dough. For thick crust pizza with heavy toppings still rely on a no fail recipe by a pizza maven published in Fine Cooking in 1994. Have all the books. Experimented with countless recipes. Because my tastes have changed and I wanted a thinner New York style crust, I finally got around to trying the same Master recipe you've used. Because I couldn't get my hands on the right flour locally I decided to give the recipe a whirl anyway. The dough was not as wet as yours but too wet. And after 24 hrs in the fridge the balls had lost their spring. I threw it out. After seeing shipping costs for the flour I wanted I drove 3 hrs round trip yesterday to pick up the right flour at a restaurant food service store. Same recipe, right flour, perfect results. It could also be an inaccurate scale. I had to invest almost $300 years ago to get a scale with decent accuracy and even then, it only measure in increments as small as 1 gm. How someone can expect accuracy from a $35 palm scale that reads to 0.01 is beyond me. I trust my measuring spoons more. Don't give up! Persevere! You're gonna make some great pizza someday and make a lot of friends in the process.

janet S.
posted 9 months ago


Thanks for that Janet!!!

You're right that I basically bought the cheapest scales I could find :) I was working to a tight budget so I saved where I could. That said, I have tried a few other scales and compared. So far I think they are fairly accurate.
I also have a gut feeling that there is something not right with the fresh yeast. I'm currently using three times the yeast as I am using Fresh Yeast.

Also, I have my Malt, milled to flour by a local brewing store. Someone mentioned that there is every chance the Litner of the Malt is as high as 120 where it should be only 20 on the Litner scale. This massively increased level of enzyme activity, could be causing the dough to do very odd things :) Maybe that's the issue too?

I am going to start from scratch with NO malt, NO starter and see what the dough should be like. then slowly add one extra element at time so that I at least know what a dough should look and feel like.

John Soden
posted 9 months ago


Just in case you're interested. I tried the Master Dough WITHOUT starter.

Here are the results... ps. I still used 3 x fresh yeast and the Malt which I suspect has a high litner value.

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Medium 1

Medium 4

Medium 5

Medium 6

Medium 9

John Soden
posted 9 months ago

Looks yummy! Great job! After 8 pizzas with the Master Dough from The Bible & finding the crust too crunchy on the bottom I tried the 72 hr dough recipe on bakingsteel.com designed for baking on 2 steels. WOW! My best results with a dough recipe yet. It's a wetter dough but after 24 hrs at room temp then 48 hrs in fridge, the gluten relaxes, is super easy to stretch out and crust was crispy on the bottom but tender...the closest I've ever come to pizza in a real wood fired oven. I learned in another pizza book that because ovens bake slower and loose more moisture, the dough needs to have higher hydration than that used in pizza ovens which may explain why so many classic recipes from chefs just don't work in home ovens. Give it a try! It's a great sight for inspiration, pictures, pizza fans! Wish I could attach pics of the results...don't know how on a blog

- janet   9 months ago


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eettehyma Holland
posted 9 months ago


Can you still purchase flour from the store here? It's keeps saying that "Checkout is disabled".

Jason J.
posted 9 months ago


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