Dough hydration

Black carrot sourdough swirl.
No mixing this time, just a gentle handling, Bob's red mill bread flour only, 85% hydration. 

Today I want to pay your attention to the percent of water we see in bakers' recipes. Sometimes we see 80% of water and use the same amount for our flour. And that's a big-big mistake. Very often people tell me that they use tartine formula, use 80-85 % of water as many bakers do, but they fail, cause their dough appears to be too liquid and looks like a full mess. 

It happens because they try to follow the recipe precisely and forget to take into account their flour, its characteristics: how strong it is, how dry it is. You should never take the same amount of water that is mentioned in any recipe, always take LESS. Cause it's really easier to add a little bit more water at the very end of mixing rather than develop gluten in a very messy dough. 

Another fact is that some bakers mention the hydration of their dough counting as well the amount of water they use for their starter feeding. And that's what made me throw away lots of dough and sticky bread. No one told me that it can be like that, I always thought that we just count the hydration of dough from the amount of flour we take for mixing. 

Unfortunately some bakers do not mention that they count as well their starter's water while mentioning the hydration. So when it's said the hydration is 85% and you add all this amount of water to the dough (you even use the same flour that is mentioned in the recipe) but you get a too liquid dough. That's because in fact a baker used less water for the dough mixing so its consistency was really nice, but added starter's water to the total water percent in the recipe. 

It's really important to consider recipe water/ hydration as only a reference point, always respect your flour and judge by its ability to incorporate water. Because some flours even with 70-72% hydration can show a beautiful result with a gorgeous open crumb.


More info about dough hydration you can find here.