How to adjust sourdough bread recipe for high humidity?

Joined Jan 8, 2010
I have been making sourdough bread for a while and have been quite pleased with the results.

But my last 2 attempts haven't been very good and the only thing that really differs is that we are at the start of the rainy season and it is now much more humid than normal.

What happens is that the dough seems much more sticky and less firm as compared to normal, and after proofing in the bannetons, the dough sticks to the linen and doesn't come out properly (doesn't release)

It also doesn't hold shape at all and uses up the whole of the cast iron pot I use.

I am quite convinced this is because of the increased humidity. The actual temperature hasn't changed much (and I have been making this bread successfully in higher temperatures).

I am wondering what the best way is to solve this problem (it is still a nice bread, but very flat in shape and with hardly to no oven spring).

- Should I increase the number of stretch and folds?

- Decrease the time between stretch and folds?

- Decrease proofing time

- Increase flour or decrease water?

- Proof in the fridge?

The recipe is as follows:

45 gr liquid sourdough starter

227 gr water

227 gr bread flour

mix and let sit for 8-12 hours (or if that doesn't fit in with the timing, retard in fridge)

All of the above

457 gr bread flour

228 gr whole wheat flour

400 gr water

17 gr salt

autolyse 20-30 minutes

primary fermentation (kneading for 5-10 minutes, 3 stretch and folds about 45 minutes apart)

pre-shape & divide

final shape and rest for about 2 hours

baking for about 40 minutes at as hot as any of my ovens will go (initially in cast iron pot with steam, then on its own to brown properly).
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Since you have a dough that is very elevated in hydration, try decreasing the hydration by 28g, 1 ounce, and flour your bannetons using rice flour or a mixture of rice flour and wheat flour.
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
I agree with @kokopuffs  ,

I have only attended a demo out in S.F. Never worked there.

I do recall a few things. When using a wild starter, the humidity is good. But when it was actually raining the would adjust the water using less.

They also stop halfway through kneading in the mixer. Let it rest, then finish up the mixing.

That's all I got. Maybe your humidity is effecting the kneading of the dough. You probably already do a window pane test. but if not it may require more kneading.

Hope you solve your problem.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Are you weighing your ingredients? If you know the weight of your volume of flour in dry conditions, then you can deduct the extra weight of the humidity absorbed flour from the added water. This only works if you measure by volume, then weigh, which is an admittedly odd course to follow. Or at least do so occasionally so you have baseline measurements for different conditions. 

This assumes your batches are large enough for the difference to show on your scale. Otherwise, the advice you have received above is certainly better. 
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Joined Jan 8, 2010
Thanks all!
I am making some more loaves later this week.
I will try the rice flour in the bannetons instead of normal flour. Does it really make that much of a difference?
I guess I will know quick enough :)
I do weigh everything and will reduce the water by about 25 ml (gram) and take it from there (go by feel as I have made this bread successfully in the past).
Luckily even the poor looking bread of the last attempts was still very tasty.
Joined Mar 9, 2013
You might also try posting this question to the bread bakers guild. (You have to join the organization to get access to the mailing list.) There are hundreds of professional bread bakers there and the list is very active.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I did another 2 loaves yesterday and they definitely are better, but still not like they used to be.
What I did: I used less water, by about 30 ml, kneaded a bit longer, about 10 minutes (quite hard work at 40 oC = 105 F). Then the usual stretch and folds etc.
I used rice flours in the bannetons and did the proofing (or is it proving) in the fridge.
I baked in a well preheated oven and cast iron pot for about 40 minutes in total.
The dough didn't stick to the bannetons and I had some oven spring. The holes in the loaf are not as large as I used to have.
Should I have let the proofed dough come to room temperature? I now used it straight out of the fridge?

Definitely some major improvements. Thanks to all your good advice !
Thanks for the link as well, looks interesting.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Unless you're doing a retard, then don't proof in the fridge.

Also if my dough seems too wet, then I conduct the proofing with the dough uncovered.  This allows the excess moisture to escape.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
Thanks @kokopuffs/img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

The reason I proofed in the fridge is that I had some people coming in unexpected and knew I wouldn't have time to finish off proofing and baking.

But why is it normally a bad idea?
Joined Aug 4, 2000
@butzy, the longer and slower the ferment, the better the flavor.  Research the term "retard" in association with bread baking.
Joined Jan 8, 2010


I understood you incorrect. I thought you said that it wasn't a good idea and I was wondering why, because as far as  I understand  a slow fermentation is benificial to the flavour of the bread.

I am not very good at the terminology (yet), so decided to query this. Glad I did so at least I understood that slow fermentation stuff correct /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif

I did retard it on purpose and finished off the baking the next day. The time in the fridge was about 18 hours.

I still wonder: Should I let it go to room temperature before baking or can I use the dough straight out of the fridge?

Is there anything is the process I used that could account for smaller holes in the bread and some oven spring (but not as much as I used to have)?

Just when I thought I was getting anywhere with my baking skills, the weather put my ego back down where it belongs. This baking thing can be quite complicated ! ( but fun at the same time)

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