Q&A Getting Wet Dough Off the Peel!

Q: My dough seems to stick to the peel when I try to get it in the oven. How can I get it off without ruining the shape of my bread?

A: As the dough sits on the cornmeal or other flour it will be absorbed into the wet dough and cause the dough to stick. Aaargh! To prevent this you can either add more cornmeal to the peel or use a sheet of parchment instead. If you form your loaf and put it on a sheet of parchment you can eliminate the cornmeal or flour all together. Just place the parchment on the peel and slide it right onto the stone. You can bake the bread entirely on the parchment or remove it near the end of baking. This will also help if you have been having trouble with smoking cornmeal on the bottom of your oven.
Q: When I bake the bread on parchment the bottom crust doesn’t seem to brown nicely, what can I do?

A: If you find that the bottom crust of your bread is not browning as well as you’d like you can remove the parchment and finish baking directly on the stone.

When we were on the Splendid Table with Lynne Rossetto Kasper she told us her trick of getting nice color on the bottom of the loaves. She flips the bread over and bakes it up-side down for the last 5-10 minutes of baking. It works like a charm!

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62 thoughts on “Q&A Getting Wet Dough Off the Peel!

  1. I understand that there were some errors in your book. I have the book and would like to know the corrections so that I can change them in my book. Can you help me on this? Thanks, Joe

  2. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for trying out the bread, we look forward to hearing about your experience!

    The error page is at the top of the website, right next to radio.

    Thanks! Zoë

  3. Hi

    I tried the basic recipe 3x & hv recommended you to my friends. I like the crust tho’ the crumb is not as open as what I see in your photos. My problem is that the wet dough sticks to my fingers. I need to add a lot of flour. That plus the struggle to get it off my fingers probably affects the quality of the dough. Would appreciate your advice.
    Masa

  4. Hi Masa,

    Don’t be afraid to put flour on the outside of the dough. Just be careful not to knead it into the dough as you are shaping. I actually dip the boule into my bin of flour if it is sticking to my hands and just shake off the excess.

    Let me know if that helps!

    Thanks, Zoë

  5. I set about to make the naan bread in the skillet the other day. I had trouble getting the bread off my rolling surface and into the pan though. It kind of got globbed up (can’t think of a better word!) along some of the edges so that some of it was thin and some was thick. Then the part that was thick kept the thin part from hitting the hot skillet surface, so that some of the bread ended up burned and some ended up undercooked. I know there is a better way! What should I have done to transfer it better?

  6. Hi Karen,

    It sounds like you need to use much more flour when you are doing the rolling out. When dealing with wet dough it is really important to keep the rolling pin and the counter well floured. Then dust some on your hands when lifting it up and into the pan. If the dough is a little thinker than 1/8 of an inch than turn the heat in the pan down a touch to prevent the thicker parts from burning.

    See if that helps and let me know.

    Thanks! Zoë

  7. Dear Zoe & Jeff-

    Love the book! Have been working my way thru the recipes and our house has had fresh artisan bread every week.

    Hoping you will have MORE whole grain bread recipes in the future…I’m making your light whole wheat and 100% whole wheat sandwich bread the most.

    thanks again for a terrific book, I’ll be giving it to friends and family for gifts.

    karin

  8. Hi Karin,

    So good to hear from you. The good news is that we are working on more whole grain recipes right now. The bad news is that our next book won’t be out for another year.

    Thanks and stay tuned!

    Zoë

  9. Every bread recipe tried has been delicious! Though it has nothing to do with good eating quality, I am having trouble with the shape of the finished loaf. The dough pops out the side, or the top, or even the bottom. I noted elsewhere on this site that you now recommend a range of resting, 40 minutes to 1.5 hours. My kitchen has been cool. Am I not allowing the loaf to rest long enough? What temp should the dough be when ready for the oven? Or what are other signs of readiness.

  10. Marilyn: A longer rest may help if your kitchen is cool. People describe a “wobbliness” when you shake the peel, suggesting that there’s been enough loosening of the interior crumb.

    We’ve never tested the dough temperature, but you may like the results better when it no longer feels cold to the touch. It takes a long, long time to actually reach room temp, so don’t go for that.

    But there may be an even easier solution: deeper slashing. Try a half-inch deep slashes and see what you think.

  11. Hi! I tried the parchment on the stone method only once. What happened to me was that the parchment baked onto the bread! Now, is it possible I didn’t cloak it in enough flour when I put it on the parchment?

    Thanks!

  12. Hi Lu! I can’t say this has ever happened to me. Most of the parchment products have a silicon coating and because of that, they don’t usually stick. What kind of parchment are you using?

    Yes, a little more cloaking with a coating of flour might very well prevent the sticking, so give that a try. Jeff

  13. Hi, Jeff. Thanks for the quick response.

    I actually am using a professional sheet (light, thin single sheets) I bought through a restaurant supply. I used to use the same variety when working with a caterer. They have been fine except for the bread factor. That being said, maybe it is indeed the cloaking with a coating of flour. Couldn’t hurt! So I’ll try this week.

    Again, I say…love this book!

  14. I wonder if the silicone-coated paper isn’t meant for the high temperatures used for these breads? I have a box (Wilton brand) that says it’s oven safe to 400. I’ve used non-silicone paper with no trouble.

  15. Lois: I use a parchment rated higher than 400 (I’m out of it at the moment). Of course, always follow package directions and don’t use anything at higher temperature than the manufacturer recommends.

    What’s your brand of non-silicone treated paper? The brands I see always have it. Jeff

  16. Reynolds! (As in, aluminum foil.) I get it at the local garden-variety supermarket. The box doesn’t say anything about silicone, but I just noticed it does say “withstands temperatures up to 420.” Oops. Well, I haven’t started any fires yet.

  17. Have just received your book as a christmas present, and love what I have tried so far. I live in UK, and have some trouble with some of your terms. Especially the idea of ‘pizza peel’. Is your cornmeal what we call cornflour- ie just fine milled, almost slippery feel thickener which we often used thickening chinese sauces? I have been having problems with step 6 of your basic recipe. I have tried plain flour, cornflour and even semolina flour to stop the dough sticking, but it is still a struggle to get it to slide on to the heated baking sheet. Also I have noticed that as the days goes on, the dough seems to rise less and less at this stage. My best results seem to always be with day 1 baking. Help, what am I doing wrong!

  18. Daphne: Sounds like “cornflour” is too fine, takes on too much moisture from the dough and therefore doesn’t work. Do you have access to parchment paper instead? Or a silicone mat? That would make the coarsely ground grain unneccesary.

    Coarse whole wheat works too.

    Our dough changes as it ages, that’s for sure. If it’s not to your taste later, use it up earlier. But I’m guessing that you may be overhandling the dough in the “cloaking” step… keep it to 30 seconds or less, review the instructions in Chapter five of the book, don’t punch anything down (ever), and see our videos at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=63

    Also, consider doing the loaves in a loaf pan filled 3/4 full.

  19. I was having trouble with sticking on a traditional wood pizza paddle, and besides, they won’t handle a long loaf well. So, I switched to a teflon cookie sheet (the type with one side flat). I still use flour and cornmeal, but it works much better for me.

    By the way, I converted to your refrigerated dough method a month ago and love it. I’ve been baking bread for forty years or so and now make fresh bread much more often. Thanks for writing the book.

  20. Your welcome Jim, thanks for writing.

    Not a bad idea at all, the teflon sheet. Certainly more economical than parchment, which is the other alternative. Jeff

  21. I purchased your book a week ago and have been baking bread on a daily basis ever since. What a wonderful find!
    I want to bake small sandwich buns, but am afraid the “crackling crust” will make for a chicken salad sandwich that is very difficult to eat. If I make the soft dinner rolls, do I skip the broiler pan and cup of water? Is this what makes them soft versus having a “crackling crust”? Thanks for your advice!

  22. In the dinner roll recipe on page 108, the dough is topped with onions sauteed in oil; the oil keeps the crust soft despite the steam bath (which helps with browning even with an oil-enriched roll like this).

  23. Hi Jeff and Zoe!

    I got your book from the library a few weeks ago, and I’ve been making bread ever since! I love it so far!

    I do have some questions though. My first one is, what kind of parchment paper are you using? All the ones I’ve seen say they’re only supposed to be used to 420 degrees. Is it actually safe to use that at 450-475? Or is there a specific brand I should be looking for?

    I tried waxed paper, as a previous commenter suggested, but it set off the smoke alarm and melted into the bread! Eeeek!

  24. Hi Jeff & Zoe – Can I put rye or pumpernickel dough in a loaf pan instead of ‘naked’ on the pizza stone? I would like to try making them more uniform so that I can make sandwiches – something I can’t do when they rise and spread free-form.

    If I can, I guess I would put the dough in the pan, allow to rise, and bake. What would be a good temp and for how long?

    Would I get the same crisp crust?

  25. Sorry but I posted the above, under the wrong category.

    If I can use a loaf pan, standard size – how far up the sides should I let the dough rise prior to baking?

  26. Me AGAIN.. If I can use the loaf pan, do I still use the steam method for a crisp crust, either water, or covering with the lasagna pan?

  27. Nina: Sure, rye and pumpernickel can be done in a loaf pan. Grease it, but give a 25% longer rest. Same baking temp and time (usually); if it seems “flabby” go longer. Try to pop it out of the pan for the last third of baking but not if it sticks.

    You may not see impressive rise in the pan; don’t go by that. Our method depends more on oven spring for its rise.

    And steam helps these loaf breads, however you want to produce/trap it.

    BTW, don’t worry about whether the question matches the post subject, they all come to the same interface for us. Makes no difference. Jeff

  28. Thanks Jeff.

    The pumpernickel came out very nicely in the loaf pan. No steam or bowl covering used.

    Now we can have sandwiches instead of eating it piece by piece standing over the kitchen counter like voltures :-) Much more civilized.

  29. Most bread recipes I’ve seen require the dough to be covered while rising at the final stage before baking. Can you tell me why you say yours doesn’t need to be covered please? I have made The vermont Cheese bread, and was pleased with it, I have the book on order now.

  30. Jeannette: Our book is based on compromises between speed and quality. Our short rising time after resting was one of them. We used a 40 minute rest time for most of the one-pound loaves. That very short resting time, combined with very wet dough, makes the covering unnecessary, in general. Traditional recipes have you doing that to prevent a dry “skin” from forming on the surface of your loaves, which constricts rising.

    That said, some people have prefered longer resting times for our loaves; see http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=141. If you go for the longer resting times, by all means cover your loaves while they rise and you’ll get a slightly nicer result.

  31. Thank you for your quick response. I made the second loaf this afternoon from the same batch of dough and was very disappointed with how it handled, very wet and sticky! so sticky I tried to knead it, and now realize after more reading of your blog that that was my big mistake! I gave up in the end and just dumped it on the parchment ready to go in the oven. However, after baking, although it didn’t look as attractive as the first loaf, it does taste very good and the texture is lovely. I must admit I vowed never to use this method again but on tasting the bread I am going to persevere, if at first I don’t succeed, I’ll keep on trying!

  32. Jeanette: Use lots of flour (but don’t incorporate it) as the dough ages and gets wetter. Then you can quickly shape the loaf successfully. It’s a matter of technique; another way to beat this is to just bake in a loaf pan. That overrides all the technique-related problems you’ve been having.

    See our videos of the shaping step at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=63

  33. Dear Jeff and Zoe:
    I am a busy academic physician who loves to bake bread but rarely could find the time. Your book has been a revelation since I heard a rebroadcast of your Splendid Table interview in December.

    I recently purchased a SuperPeel that works amazingly, both to pick up loaves, bread sticks, pizzas and to transfer them to the baking stone.

    My old baking stone recently cracked and after much searching I settled on a stoneware version from Hartstone Pottery that is only 5/16″ thick, but is freezer to oven safe and can be put in the dishwasher. I have been quite happy with the new stoneware “cookie sheet.” Check it out at hartstonepottery.com.

    I love the innovative recipes I find on your website! Thanks for bringing the wonders of fresh bread back to my home.

  34. I’ve been baking bread weekly with a sourdough starter (I’ve actually never baked with packaged yeast) and am wondering if you’d advise trying your method with my starter instead of packaged yeast. I’ve got an old starter that’s been handed down for a few generations and it’s pretty active and has thus far been pretty foolproof. Would your method (minus the packaged yeast) plus my starter make sense with a few modifications?

  35. John: I’ve done exactly what you suggest, and it works. I’ll tell you that it’s a bit more temperamental… if you keep the dough a little too long, you get an overly-dense result. Use about 1.5 cups of activated starter (you know what I mean) in the recipe, and then balance up the water and flour to get the consistency you see in our videos (see tab above).

    Another thing to consider is to use just a little commercial yeast, like a quarter-teaspoon– much more reliable performance, but yes, it does change the flavor.

  36. I just don’t know what the problem is for me. My dough is so wet and sticky that I can’t form and ball, not even when i use tons of flour. My dough just seems to get even more wet in the fridge. After fighting with the bread to get it on the pizza peel it doesn’t want to come off. Oh what a mess…. It looks terrible when it comes out of the oven but at least it does taste really good. Help me what am I doing wrong?

    • Nicole: Are you using bleached flour? That results in a too-wet dough. If that’s not the explanation, just decrease the water a little. Try a quarter cup less and see. Jeff

  37. Hi. Made my first loaf today. Tasted awesome but it seemed sooooo wet! I followed the measurements exactly, but I think I must have made some sort of mistake. I’m talking wet!

    I have a scale, and was wondering if you had the flour measurements in grams or ounces? It totally eliminates the whole scoop process and I think provides a much more accurate dough!

    Thanks for your help!
    Mike

    • Hi Mike,

      Using the scoop and sweep method we get:

      1 cup = 5 ounces of unbleached all-purpose flour

      The Master recipe uses 2 pounds of flour.

      I hope this helps! Zoë

  38. RE: bread sticking to peel
    My oven is an add shape and I have trouble shaking the bread to the stone, until someone suggested using parchment paper. It works! Let the dough rise on floured papers and then use a large spatula to put in on the stone. It is easier that way, and it does not stick at all to the paper.
    Great for pizzas too! This method lets you make a few ahead of time. I have also used lightly greased aluminum foil.

    • Hi Marlene,

      I totally agree and use parchment all the time now. it will have a major role in our new book. I’ve just recently discovered it for pizzas. Love that!

      Thank you! Zoë

  39. Just bought your book and I had my 11 year old son make your master recipe. It was so easy and delicious–thank you! I did have a question, when you say to store it in a container that is not airtight, (we’re using a clear plastic container from a restaurant supply store) do I still need to close/seal the container or do I keep it open a tad to let air in?

    Thank you and again, great book!

    • First 24 to 48 hours, just leave the seal cracked a little to let out gasses. Then you usually can click it down w/o trouble. Never use a glass container with a tightened-down screw-top lid. Jeff

  40. Just recently tried your recipes and I can’t believe how great it works. I finally can get bread with that big holey crumb my family loves.

    One question though, is it OK to just use the same bucket over and over again just scraping the residue into the new batch? Talk about making life easy.

    Thanks, Richard

    • Richard: Absolutely; keep re-using and don’t wash the bucket unless the recipe is enriched (eg., eggs and butter). You jumpstart the sourdough flavor this way, can also use a chunk of old dough for same purpose. Jeff

  41. I made my first batch of dough and when I made my first 1 lb loaf it was wet and flattened out on the peel. Can I add more flour to the rest and mix it in to get it to be less wet.

    • Hi Jay,

      Were you working with fresh, unrefrigerated dough? If so, letting it chill make all the difference. If the dough was chilled and you fear it is too wet you can add flour to the dough and then let it sit for a time to allow the new flour to be absorbed, about 1-2 hours.

      Another problem can also be the way the loaf is formed. If your not using enough flour when shaping it can spread too much. Did you have a chance to watch any of our videos? http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=63

      Thanks, Zoë

  42. Thanks Zoe, yes it is chilled so do I mix in the additional flour or sprinkle it on top. Even though the first batch was flat it still tasted great.

    • Hi Jay,

      You will need to mix it in. This may be easiest using a stand mixer. When you mix up your next batch be sure to use the scoop and sweep method as apposed to spooning the flour into the measuring cup. If you have a scale 1 cup of flour = 5-ounces.

      Glad it tasted great. You could also use this batch for flatbreads and not worry about adding more flour.

      Thanks, Zoë

  43. Regarding loaf sticking to the peel, that’s been a problem for me as well.
    I was going to go to parchment, but frankly, that adds about a dollar to the cost of each loaf.
    Seems a little extravagant to me.
    Has anyone had success with a silicone mat?
    Heat resistant and reusable.
    BTW, I really fell in love with this bread after trying the Baguette in ABI5!
    I have gone through about 20 pounds of flour, and feel that I am finally starting to get the hang of it.
    Thanks Zoe and Jeff for these forums, they have been both an inspiration and help.
    The only problem is I can’t seem to find my way back to the last forum I posted on. lol

    • Hi Ron,

      I have not tried the foil yet, but now that you have mentioned it I will! You may want to sprinkle cornmeal or flour under the first loaf to make sure that the dough does not stick to the foil.

      If you end up getting a silicone mat they work great, but you will want to slip the loaf off the mat and bake the bread directly on the stone or oven rack for the last 10 minutes.

      Please let us know how the foil goes.

      Thanks, Zoë

      ps I see you already did exactly what I would have done with the foil. ;) Thanks for reporting back to us. I do think that greasing the foil may help, but still use the cornmeal.

  44. Just got back from the Dollar Tree store, looking for a silicone mat. They had silicone basting brushes and silicone baking molds, but no mat.
    I did however acquire a 12″ roll of foil, 35 square feet for $1.00, about 4 cents per loaf.
    I’m going to try that.
    Anyone tried foil yet?

  45. Foil. I just baked 2 small bagettes (about 7 oz each) and let them rest on cornmeal on a small sheet of foil on my peel.
    Worked quite well, the foil did stick somewhat, but I was still able to wrestle it free halfway through the baking.
    I would say it works well, although some sticking.
    I wonder if I greased it slightly?

  46. Hi, love these blogs, i stumbled this when i was looking for good dinner rolls recipe. I live in Canada in a rural areas, are your books available in Canada?

    Thanks,

    • Hi Esther,

      That is a great question, I know we have many readers in CA, but I’m not sure if they buy through Amazon or locally?

      Thanks, Zoë

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