Tips & Techniques

The Best Way to Clean Baking Bowls, Once & For All

April 17, 2018

There’s not much in this world better than a fresh-baked loaf of bread—well, unless it’s your fresh-baked loaf. That’s the very best.

But the cleanup that comes with bread baking can be a headache. Dough sticks like glue to bowls and spatulas and definitely fingers. If you’re like me, you turn up the heat and soap up the sponge. After all, it works for other sticky substances like oils and syrups.

But it turns out the best way to clean anything coated in dough is with cold water, says San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jessica Battilana in her new book, Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need.

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“Use cold water first,” she says. “It will prevent the gluten in the flour from activating and becoming that sticky web that coats your sponge.”

Simply rinse (or soak, if you’re multitasking) with cold water to relax the gluten, then use your fingers to rub the dough off. Make sure to throw the doughy blob into the trash so it won’t clog your kitchen sink, then clean as you normally would with warmer water and a sponge.

Ready to give it a try? Here are some of our favorite breads to bake:

Do you have a baking cleaning tip for us? Share your best one in the comments below!

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  • Leigh
  • Smaug
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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Leigh April 18, 2018
Let it dry out. Wipe it out. Wash as usual. Easy.
Smaug April 17, 2018
????Perhaps the universe is on my side, though I've seen little evidence of it in the past, but I simply don't have this problem- even the stickiest of doughs sticks to itself more than to the bowl, and if you oil the bowl it rises in, no problem. Another reason why sponges are a poor choice for dishwashing, however. Now cookie dough is a problem- washes off easily enough, but you REALLY don't want any more fat going down the drain than you can possibly avoid.
HalfPint April 17, 2018
I have a flexible plastic bowl scraper that I use to clean as much dough out as possible. Then I fill the bowl with some water and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Whatever is left usually wipes right off with a wet sponge.
Cary April 17, 2018
Before any water hits that bowl, take a bit of extra flour from the counter or your bin, sprinkle it on and rub it into the sticky dough in the bowl. It will rub it right off, no mess on your sponge or in your drain.