After a year or so of various bread making attempts, I've realized that I like breads made from very wet, hard to handle doughs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these doughs seem to turn into soft, spongey bread with a nice crisp crust.
My biggest question: is the only way to work with such wet sticky doughs to work fast and practice a lot? Or am I totally missing something?
My dough yesterday was so wet that I would have been unable to knead it in the standard way without constantly adding flour or getting my hands covered in wet dough. Instead, I floured my counter and hands, then worked really quickly to shape it into a tight ball enclosed with a light layer of flour. Then I set it on a baking sheet for its final rise. It turned out fine, but I can't see how I'd ever use this dough to make anything other than a round loaf.
I wish bread books would describe in more detail what dough texture you should get for each recipe. Some doughs are sticky to the touch but the dough won't come off on your fingers; others are impossible to handle without flouring your hands every ten seconds. Again, please correct me if no dough should ever be this sticky and I'm missing the point somehow.