I would also be interested in understanding what you refer to as "effective hydration".
I think your interest is very fundamental (fundāre
, "to lay the foundation"). Thank you! But, first, please excuse my peculiar way of approaching this subject, and I hope I am knowledgeable enough to address your concern. (Sometimes, I can not find rational explanations for what I do!) According to Aristotle, Thales of Miletus (the father of Western philosophy) regarded water “as the first principle [or ‘material cause’] of all things.” Modern scholars argue that since pre-classical Greek language lacked the power of abstractive conceptualization, Thales could have meant “fluidity” (derived from fluere
, “to flow” or “to smooth”) by water. And, that is precisely my point: fluidity, making the flour fluid enough in order to be materially causative
. The master of those who know, Aristotle (who also had examined the nature of flour and bread!), wrote:
“Since that [e.g., flour] which is capable is capable of something and at some time
and in some way
. . . and since some things can work according to a rational formula and their potentialities involve a formula, while other things are non-rational and their potentialities are non-rational, and the former potentialities must be in a living thing, while the latter can be both in the living and in the lifeless; as regards potentialities of the latter kind, when the agent and the patient meet in the way appropriate to the potentiality in question, the one must act and the other be acted on, but with the former kind this in not necessary.” (The italics
, not the words, are added for your attention.)
The floured wheat endosperm is solid, not fluid. And, it has certain regulatory resistance
to hydration, which, if I am not mistaken, flour scientists often refer to as “kinetics of water transport” or “hydration dynamics of endosperm”. This resistance barrier can be overcome “at some time and in some way”, which calls for a “methodology” or “methodic handling” that the Romans, and Persians, of antiquity were good at, without resorting to all the fanciful conceptualizations above and hereafter. (If the Western civilization had effectuated a synthesis of "art" and "capitalism", such methods would not have been forgotten today!) As I wrote in my article above, a way is to get the flour’s own natural enzymes “to adequately turn the starch content of flour into sugar and to reconfigure the protein content of flour into gluten—after mixing, but prior to kneading—in order to minimize dough oxidation
, which causes the dough to be less “extensible” (as distinct from being “elastic”), bleached in color, deficient in flavor, and hard in texture. By analogy, if your hair is not wet enough, shampooing your hair would not be effective. First, adequately (quantity) and effectively (quality) hydrate your hair, and then shampoo! Adequately
(indicative of “quantity”) and effectively
(indicative of “quality” or “how”) hydrating flour will beget dough of superior extensibility, flavor, sourness, texture, and aroma.”
Let me insert another allegorical example: If a Ferrari's engine is not properly oiled, then driving it will be rough and will damage the engine. However, if the Ferrari's engine is properly oiled, then driving it will be smooth.
So, there are two distinct, but not separate, factors: quantity of hydration and quality (or how) of hydration. I invite your attention to the photo below. The pizza in the picture baked for about 3 minutes, at about 700-800 degree in a $99 modified Sears home gas oven. The raw dough of the pizza contained 49% hydration, which is quantitatively
low! Yet, the puff (and the relative soft texture of the crust, which you can’t feel) betrays the 49% percent hydration. Why? Because of effective hydration—the way
(not exclusive of time
) the flour was animated before it was acted on. May Nettuno
be with you!