Thursday, November 27, 2014

3 magic ways to keep it clean: getting sticky dough off your hands.

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So you made bread.  Good for you!

Now what do you do with those ooky, ooky fingers?  Try one of these three magic tricks to get your hands sparkly again in no time.

1)  Get scraping

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Grab your trusty bench scraper.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I haven’t found any other tool that works as well.  Now, just like you’re stripping paint from the wall, gently SCRAAAAAAAPE the dough together.  Off your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, wherever it’s stuck.  Once you have most of the dough loosened, you can rub that around your hands to get the rest off.  Don’t throw it away.  Just ball it up and toss it in wherever the rest of your dough is rising. 

2)  Fight flour with flour

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For this trick, you’ll need some flour.  Whatever kind you used to make your dough is fine.  Pick up a bunch of flour in your fingers.  Rub it around your hands, just as if you were spreading hand cream.  Front, back, in between your fingers.  It just feels floury at first, but soon enough, the dough on your hands will mix with the new flour and dry out.  It will start to crumble.  At this point, I hold my hands over the bowl or dough bucket so the crumbles can fall off into the rest of the dough.  If, like me and a friend I know, touching flour creeps you out, grin and bear it.  It doesn’t take long, and nothing else really works as well.

3)  Cold shoulder

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If you MUST wash with water, like if you’re in a big hurry, then water is your last resort. 

How can you stop all that sticky dough from clogging your sink?  The secret is cool water.  Warm water will solidify the dough on your hands into a solid chunk.  Instead, dampen your hands slightly with cool water.  Now, soap them up.  We use Dr. Bronner’s soap (liquid or bar; this tea tree scent is yummy).  I water it down and keep it in a foaming pump dispenser.  We’ve done this for years, and even a small bottle lasts forever.

Once you’re soaped up, turn all that icky dough into a smooth, watery, soapy paste.  Yes, it will be all over your hands.  But your goal here is to turn it into a thin liquid (no chunks!) that will rinse easily down the drain without clogging.  Add a little water at a time until it feels like it will rinse clean.  Once the dough is mostly off my hands, I like to give them a final rinse with warm water.

Stopping it from sticking in the first place:

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Should you use FLOUR?  No!  Well, sometimes.

Even though every recipe says to flour your work surfaces and everything else generously, why dry out your bread that way if you don’t have to? 

Most of the time, you don’t need to add flour.  What really works well is oil.  I use canola.  With a little bit of oil, you’ll be able to handle even the stickiest dough.  I use it in the bowl when I’m weighing the dough, on my hands, and sometimes, a little on my table, though grip is good, and I have my trusty bench scraper, so I’m not worried about stickage.

Oil your hands before you work.  Nothing will stick to them, and they’ll stay soft and smooth (bonus!).  I don’t wash my wooden rolling pins, either, so over the years, they build up a slight accumulation of oil that also helps keep them stick-free. 

(Caution:  when we moved to Israel and they were sealed in a box for eight months, some of the wooden implements did develop a rancid smell and I had to wash them well before starting to use them again.  Always check your gear before use if it’s been in storage.)

The real magic here is baking.  Turning three or four or five simple ingredients into something life-sustaining and yummy.  But I hope these shortcuts to clean hands are just the thing to keep you happy while you’re making the magic.

Do you have some secrets of your own?  I’d love to hear them in the Comments.

[dog photo credit © Des Colhoun via Wikimedia]

[flour photo credit © Mudd1 via Wikimedia]

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Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


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