Calculating Hydration


I am currently using a 100% hydration starter and the 1 2 3 method which is producing some lovely loaves but I just wondered what difference it makes using a higher or lower percentage hydration to the finished loaf?

Also, do you calculate hydration of the starter or the dough? 

269 users have voted.


lenohbabe's picture
lenohbabe 2012 October 18
Is 1 2 3 where you use 1 part stater to 2 parts water to 3 parts flour in an recipe? If not could you please explain :-)
farinam's picture
farinam 2012 October 18

Hi 20glen11,

To answer your second question first.  It helps to know the hydration of both because the amount of flour and water in the starter comes into the calculation of the hydration of the loaf.  As I understand it the 1:2:3 recipe applies to working with a 100% hydration starter and gives you 71% hydration dough which is a nice level to work with and as you say gives you nice bread.

The hydration that you work at does depend to some degree on the blend of flour that you are using.  A whole meal flour will absorb a lot more water and give you a stiffer dough at the same hydration than for white flour.  if you look under my blogs, I have posted a couple of spreadsheets on hydration that you can download.

In terms of the effect on the finished loaf, I think the main effects are that a lower hydration will give a finer crumb and a more upright loaf (what I would call a farmhouse loaf) while high hydration results in a more open crumb and a flatter loaf (ciabatta /pide in extremis).

There is also talk about flavour but I think that comes more from the ingredients and timing than from hydration itself although different components of the culture are reported to be favoured at different hydrations that could affect the flavour as well.  There's heaps to read on the subject out there if you can take the time to look.

Good luck with your projects.


Graham's picture
Graham 2012 October 18

It is amazing how the 1:2:3 ratio is so close to ratios that we use at Companion Bakery.

Our light flour dough's are generally around 70% hydration. Although we often use a 70% - 75% hydration starter, the final hydration of our entire dough is around 70%.

1:2:3 Example

(The following recipe makes one loaf....double these amounts to make it all worthwhile)


1: 100g starter at 100% hydration (50 water / 50 flour)

2: 200g water

3: 300g flour

600g Total Dough Weight

(plus 6.3g salt, see salt calculation below)


Total Flour in the recipe is 350g. (50 from starter + 300 fresh flour)

Total Water in the recipe is 250g. (50 from starter + 200 fresh water)


Breakdown of salt, hydration and acidified flour, as % of flour in the entire dough (i.e baker's %)

Salt 6.3g (350 x 1.8%)

Hydration 71% (250 / 350) x 100

Acidified Flour 14% (50 / 350 ) x 100

Note:  Acidified flour is simply flour that has ben fermented in the starter.


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