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Measuring dough hydration ? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Measuring dough hydration ?

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  • Measuring dough hydration ?

    I see references to dough hydration, does anyone know how this is tested ?

    Myself, I just intuit what the dough should be like from past experiences with dryer or wetter doughs and go from there- but I'm looking to see what levels I've been working with.

    Hope this was a good place to post this question...

    not sure if this is oven only questions.

    Tim Miltz

  • #2
    Re: Measuring dough hydration ?

    Hi Tim,
    Hydration is measured in weight in relationship to the flour. If you look up Baker's Formula it might make more sense. If you use 1000 gm of flour (1 Kilo), and 500 gm of water. That's 50% hydration. It's based on percentage so that you can use any amount of flour and using the percentage, know just how much water to add. All ingredients in the formula are based on their percentage to the flour. (It will never be a 100% total.) If you want to see what percentage hydration you're working at, just weight the water and flour and work backwards to see what percentage worked best for your dough.

    Hope this helps-


    • #3
      Re: Measuring dough hydration ?


      I can't believe I didn't think of that !

      I just saw a program on Archimedes last evening, he was put to a task to determine whether an item was made of pure gold, or if it contained some 'filler' metals - i concluded by displacing it in water would give it's volume, then he weight the same amount of pure gold as the volume.

      This hydration approach is similar in ways.

      Either way - for the first time, I realize I NEED to get a digital scale now.

      Best regards

      Tim Miltz


      • #4
        Re: Measuring dough hydration ?

        Actually Tim and Susan, the total can be more than 100%. Even if the only flour is plain wheat flour and you use IDY. (Example: 100% hydration foccacia, 500 grams of flour, 500 grams of water (100%), 10 grams of salt (2%), and 3 grams of yeast (.6%) for a total of 102.6 percent added material.)

        There are several approaches to figuring hydration. Some ignore the water in the starter. Others don't. Some key on white flour only (which I think is wrong). I tend to think of hydration as total flour (white, WW, rye, etc. including the flour in the starter) as 100% and total water (in starter, eggs, etc.) and get hydration by dividing the latter by the former. That is a bit of a pain though so it is more common to simply use total flour (or white flour - and measure everything relative to that.)

        IMO The concept of hydration tends to be more meaningful with IDY doughs for they don't have the confusion of dough degradation from extended hydration that one can encounter in sourdoughs - and particularly high starter/preferment doughs using really old starters.

        While familiarity with flours and hydration give you some idea of what a "new" recipe might be like, the most useful factor is IMO once you have a given formula that you can manage with a certain hydration. Say you are out of bread flour and need to use AP, you know you need to drop the hydration around 4 percent - maybe 5 or 6 depending on the flour. You want to double the batch (or up 1.5). Everything calculates from othe percentages. Bread is not so much a recipe as a formula.

        And...without a scale you are very unlikely to learn to be consistent unless you are one of the lucky ones with "touch". Touch can be developed but using a scale and knowing the hydration you think you want will IMO advance you a lot faster than using volumes.

        Good Luck!


        • #5
          Re: Measuring dough hydration ?

          If you're looking for a scale, there are some new, good ones available through ebay- you can usually win for around $35. And there's another good one that's Escali that's available in cooking stores now. Be careful to check that the scale goes up to high enough weights. Some only go up to 1 kilo and for bread/dough we need to go to at least 5 pounds. If you bake other things, it will really come in handy. Susan


          • #6
            Re: Measuring dough hydration ?

            Thank you so much for taking the time to share these thoughts/insights Jay and Susan.

            P.S. Kind of funny reference on 'lucky ones' with 'touch' there Jay, I bet that would be a good component of any cooking school- to test people for 'the touch'.

            As I say lately- Through food, everything.

            And really, all life forms master food to some degree for their long term success plans. I'm tempted to say short of housing, rearing the young, play and mating ? Food is all there is.

            I thought maybe there was some kind of hydrometer or something.

            You know Jay ? I wonder, my inexpensive humidifier came with this humidistat - it can't be probably more than a buck or two, I wonder if I put a humidistat in a close chamber with the dough if it would change - I'll explore that if I can find it, or get a good one and post back if it reflects changes with different mixes.

            I want to reach for a high humidity - but likely flatter (hard to keep form with liquid like dough) bread next.

            Tim Miltz


            • #7
              Re: Measuring dough hydration ?

              I'm with Susan (sholding) and Jay (TexasSourdough) totally. Once you start using baker's percentage and weights, you'll see significant improvement in your quality & consistency of product. (I created a spreadsheet based on baker's percentage that I use for all my breads now. Since each bread is based on a specific bread formula "family", all I do is punch in how many loaves of a particular type of bread I want to make and print out my sheet with the calculated ingredient amounts. Well worth a little time & effort on the computer. If you're interested, take a look at the attached pdf of the worksheet for my Pain a l'Ancienne portion of the planned bake this coming Friday.)

              Check out the KD 8000 scale which has a baker's percentage function built-in. I really love the removable stainless steel top (for cleaning). I have been baking 10-16 loaves of bread a week and the scale has been a reliable workhorse for me. A baking friend of mine also got one for bread and weighing out her grains & hops for homebrew...life is good!

              Here's a link to FG Pizza and the scale http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...NDKKog&cad=rja
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              Last edited by SableSprings; 04-26-2011, 09:28 AM.
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