SourDom 2006 May 9

Grubdog asks

Can you explain to me what you mean by the term hydration.

If you look up the link that Bill has posted above you will find

hydration: Several meanings in this context: 1) The weight of water in a a leaven or a dough, relative to the weight of flour. Therefore, a dough at 70% hydration is 41% water, and a leaven at 100% hydration is 50% water. 2) The capacity of a flour to absorb water (usually called absorption). 3) The quantity of water in flour (related to environmental humidity).

In this forum, and most baking fora you will find home bakers using
'hydration' to refer to the first of these meanings.
It is a way of comparing bread dough recipes, since one of the important variables that determines how a dough behaves is how much water is in it.

Put simply, to calculate the 'hydration' of a dough, divide the total weight of water/liquid in a dough, by the total weight of flour in the dough.

To confuse things a little we sometimes talk about the 'hydration' of a starter. This is the same idea, just dividing the amount of water in the starter by the amount of flour.

An example:

My standard recipe uses
200g starter
500g flour
320g water
10g salt

The starter is at 100% hydration, so that means that it contains 100g water and 100g flour.

Total water = 320g + 100g (in starter) = 420g
Total flour = 500g plus 100g (in starter) = 600g

Hydration = 420/600 = 70% (multiply by 100% to get the percentage)

To give you a bit of a guide: doughs which have hydration of 50% make a very stiff dough, 60% make a firm kneadable dough, 70% a sticky dough, 80% an incredibly sticky unkneadable dough, 100% a thick batter

does that help?


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