first attempts at high hydration dough. A Question...


The first pic is a ciabatta style roll at 80% hydration, baked on a tray. The texture is fabulously open and full of holes. The second is a similar dough but about 95%. It is flatter and the texture, while entirely satisfactory, is less open with less holes. Is there an obvious reason for this. The 2nd bread was baked as a loaf in a cast iron pot.

163 users have voted.


rossnroller 2010 January 6

Hi tpearce. Are they both 100% SD? Just curious.

The first one looks especially nice. I have been reading through Hamelman's brilliant Bread - I can't find it at the moment, but I recall his comment somewhere that very high hydration (high 80%s) is over the top for ciabatta. So, maybe 90% is too high?

Hamelman has 3 ciabatta recipes (none SD) - and @ around 73-4% his hydration is relatively low for this type of bread, I would have thought. Just had a look at Reinhart's ciabatta (also not SD), and his is around 83%.


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2010 January 6

I can only vicariously enjoy.

One reason for a high hydration bread to have a less open crumb is perhaps in the handling, bursting some bubbles along the way. But, heck, if it tastes great...


sourfish 2010 February 25

 It looks like you may have over-developed your 90% hydration dough; and it looks a little under-proved - did you use cooler water? I also think generally that a less hydrated dough will 'stand up' better than a dough that is wetter - which will have a tendency to spread. 

spuddery 2010 March 9

 I've just recently caught the sourdough bug - can someone please explain to me what the hydration percentages mean, in jargonless language?

Some insight will be much appreciated!


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 March 10

 All ingredients in bread are expressed in percentages compared to the flour that is in the bread.  The flour is always at 100% so if the hydration is 70% then the weight of water in the dough is the weight of the flour multiplied by 70%.  Lets say you have the following flour weight.

Flour = 1,000 grams

Then for 70% hydration the water will be this.

Water = 700 grams.

bread and circuses 2011 June 20

I agree with you, but if you're using a liquid leaven you'll need to take off the percentage of water from the starter  in your dough...


All the best!

HVHB 2011 March 12

I have a theory that if you over-hydrate your dough, you decrease the protein content (ie more water reduces the ratio of protein) thereby losing the strength of your gluten at 'such and such' a critical point of any particular flour.

I think sometime we blame over- or under-proving a dough for a problem that is caused by over- or under-hydrating a flour to make the dough.

I think it's good to write down your hydration figures for future reference, but don't get caught up in the idea that such and such an hydration will give you a perfect bread just because someone else's recipe said so.  

Learn to recognise what your dough is telling you while you mix and knead it.  I have 2 recipes for the one bread, a light rye, which are rather different.  The hydration of one recipe is up to 92%, the other is 67 to 69%.  This is to get a similar bread as the final product.  




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