Author Topic: Hydration Frustration  (Read 1851 times)

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Offline kerrymarcy

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Hydration Frustration
« on: October 08, 2013, 12:25:53 AM »
Hello,

I've been out of pizza-making for some time now because of growing kids and a demanding home and work schedule.  I used to frequent this forum  regularly and have really enjoyed all the exceptional input that came from all of you dough guru's.  I will never forget all the generous time and care that you members have given for my sake -  I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart!   :-*   

With all this said,  I would like to pick your brains again! 
In the recent past, I was measuring by volume in my dough recipes, but before I put my pizza-making on the "back burner", I bought a nice scale and began to weigh my ingredients.  I don't remember if I was getting this issue of sticky dough then, but I am now.  I made the following recipe from the dough calculator section:

scott 123 easy new york pizza

Note: You will need a Standard Home Oven for proper baking of this dough.

    Bakers' %   in grams   in ounces   Recommended
Flour   100%   622 g   21.9 oz   King Arthur Bread Flour
Water   61%   379 g   13.4 oz   Water
Yeast or Starter   0.5000%   3.109 g   0.110 oz   Instant Dry Yeast
Salt   1.75%   10.88 g   0.38 oz   Salt
Oil/Lards/Shortening   3.00%   18.7 g   0.7 oz   Vegetable Oil
Sugar   1.00%   6.218 g   0.2 oz   Sugar
Other   0.00%   0.00 g   0.0 oz   -No Others Needed
Totals       1040 g   36.68 oz   
 

I made this and several other similar formulas and they all seemed to have been on the sticky side.  I had trouble balling them up without the dough sticking to my fingers, and after the cold fermentation, had trouble retrieving them from my lightly-oiled proofing container without ruining the integrity of the dough.  I was a little suspicious of my old scale, so I purchased  a new one, and unfortunately, this was not the answer.  I wouldn't think that hydration at 61% would produce a dough that would stick to your fingers. I am using a kitchen aid mixer with a hook attachment.  I first mix the dry into the wet (minus the oil) with a spoon until it is necessary to use the mixer.  I then put the oil in and mix on #3 speed for about 5 minutes and fluctuate speeds briefly if dough ball gets stuck to hook.  I have read about hand-kneading after electronic mixing, but have not tried that yet.  I'm very afraid of throwing more flour at the problem because I feel that that might jeopardize the hydration required for NY dough and throw this recipe out-of-whack.  I am very precise in my flour and water weights and use measuring spoons for yeast, sugar and salt.  I use KA bread flour and open my dough with a half and half mixture of flour and semolina.  The dough seems a little too extensible and sags easily.  Furthermore, launching the pies is sometimes difficult and adds to the frustration.

Maybe an autolyse would be useful.  Is there such a thing as a hydrometer for measuring dough hydration?  Being from Wisconsin, I have never had the opportunity to experience first-hand what a NY is supposed to taste like - I have had some very good pies around here that claim to be NY pies, but how am I to really know? - That is why this is so important to me!  Please help!! Thanks in advance!

Kerry
'
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 12:34:46 AM by kerrymarcy »


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2013, 08:02:03 AM »
Kerry,

From what you have shown as your dough formulation and from the results you have reported, I suggest that you reduce the hydration of the formulation such that the sum of the hydration and oil, in percents, is about equal to the rated absorption value of the flour you are using. This is because oil also has a wetting effect on the dough. Tom Lehmann discusses this matter in a PMQ Think Tank post at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6110&p=38321&hilit=#p38321 . FYI, the rated absorption value of the KABF is 62% but it has a fairly wide operating range. So, you may have to play around a bit with the hydration value until the stickiness abates.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 08:07:26 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline JAG

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2013, 09:50:11 AM »
Hi Kerry,

Maybe the humidity of your work area is throwing you off slightly. In central Ohio humidity can be all over the board where as I can use the same recipe on two different days and one day I have great acting dough and the next it is sticky like fly paper.. Just a thought.

JG

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2013, 08:50:23 PM »
Thanks Peter and JG.  Peter, Thanks for that interesting link.  I guess the only thing I just can't comprehend is how scott 123 and others making this recipe can have a better outcome with respect to hydration than me using the identical ingredients (KABF, oil, etc...).  If I add less water then what the formulation calls for, am I still making the same recipe or inventing a new one?   I understand that oil does add to hydration, and because of this, I am very careful when measuring out my liquids.  Do you think that it might be an issue of mixing and kneading?  Or how about the autolyse?  I thank you for your response and welcome your insight. 
JG, it may be possible that humidity does play a vital role with respect to this issue.  Around this time of year, I have the heat on one day and the AC on the next day so I will definitely pay closer attention to this in the future.  Thanks all!!

Kerry

« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 09:11:40 PM by kerrymarcy »

Online scott123

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2013, 10:27:13 PM »
Kerry, I believe you found an instruction the recipe is omitting.  Most people knead and ball with flour, especially if hand kneading, so I thought it was implied, but it should probably be stated.  I knead with flour- enough so the dough doesn't stick as I'm kneading. I also liberally flour the dough balls before they go into their lightly oil (about a dime's size worth of oil) containers.

Also, if you're going to make my recipe, the oil should go in with the water and yeast. I don't subscribe to the add-oil-later philosophy for 3% oil doughs.

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 11:38:47 PM »
Scott, thank you for your response.  This is most likely the missing step that I was omitting.  I'm sure its a fundamental but imperative step that I overlooked.  As I can recall, when kneading by hand,  I never had this problem but when I started using my KA mixer the problem became apparent.  Up until now, I only used additional flour when opening the dough because I thought that any extra flour above and beyond the formulation would compromise your target dough.  I'm sorry for being so ignorant!  :o  Steve and JG probably took it for granted that I was doing this - Sorry guys!.  Scott, are you saying that any dough formulation that I mix in the KA mixer, be taken out and hand-kneaded to rid-out the stickies?  Also, for this particular formulation that yields 4 dough balls,  about how much additional flour do you feel is incorporated before balling?  Thanks, look forward to your response.

Kerry
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 12:03:53 AM by kerrymarcy »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2013, 07:40:55 AM »
Kerry,

I apparently read your original post too fast because I missed that you were using an existing dough recipe, the one that scott123 posted. But, setting that aside for a moment, I want to add that how the dough is mixed, either by hand or by mixer, can affect the outcome of the dough.

For example, I have an old KitchenAid stand mixer with a C-hook. It does not always do an adequate job of hydrating the dough. As a result, I have resorted to various measures to improve its performance in that regard. For example, I will often sift the flour (one sifting is enough). And, often I will start with the flat beater attachment and then switch to the C-hook. Even then, I might have to stop the mixer and intervene manually to help the dough along. I have even gone so far as to use all three attachments with my mixer, including the whisk, flat beater and C-hook. See, for example, the opening post at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.0.html.

Using one or more brief rest periods during the preparation of the dough also helps improve the hydration of the dough. As for the use of autolyse in particular, since you mentioned it, I personally do not use autolyse unless the recipe calls for it. The classic autolyse requires that only the flour and water be combined and then be subjected to a rest period. It is only after the expiration of that rest period that the yeast and salt (and maybe some other ingredients) are added to the flour/water composition. So, using autolyse can require rearrangement of the sequencing of the ingredients of the dough recipe. That will alter that recipe in ways that may not be desired. However, that said, if the mixed dough has everything in it at the outset, including the yeast and salt and oil, and is rested for a brief period, that will improve the hydration of the dough, and also improve the gluten formation. That rest period should be fairly brief because you don't want the dough to start fermenting too quickly. Some people use more than one rest period. That is fine so long as the total rest time does not cause the dough to start to ferment too quickly since that can affect the window of usability of the dough.

As for the oil addition, I agree with Scott that in a home setting it is OK to add the oil, especially when you get above a few percent, to the water. In my stand mixer, if I add 3% oil after the dough has been mixed and kneaded for a few minutes, the mixer will have a hard time incorporating the oil. That means that I have to stop the mixer and combine the oil with the dough by hand.

Another thing I do is to use a bowl residue compensation in the dough calculating tool that I happen to be using at the time. And I always weigh the dough ball after everything has been done to it. So, if it becomes necessary to add more flour or water to get the dough to the desired finished condition, whether the flour and water were added to offset perceived problems like humidity or overly dry flour, or mismeasurement, or whatever, weighing the dough after all of these things get done allows me to scale back the dough weight to the desired final value (the value without the bowl residue compensation). The percents of ingredients in the dough will have changed from their starting values because of the flour and/or water changes, but the changes are minimal in the majority of cases and should not be a cause for concern.

Peter

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2013, 11:13:20 AM »
Peter, thanks for your response!  I read your entire thread about your experimental mixing approach, one of which I think I will try next time.  I typically stir flour into the water with metal spoon until I get a substantial mass, then just use the hook.  I can definitely see the benefits of sifting (i got away from sifting since I got my scale) and using the various attachments to better hydrate the flour.  Peter, is this common practice for you now, to later add the yeast?  Are you saying that holding off on adding the yeast or because of the steps you incorporated in better hydrating the flour (mixing with various attachments), is responsible for achieving a longer ferment time, or is it the combination of the both?  Maybe its the brief rest periods when changing the mixers.
Do you dust your dough balls with flour like Scott does before storing?
Also, do you always hand-knead before you ball with flour if its a bit sticky or just when you need to make up for the bowl residue?  I think it is a good idea to always weigh your final dough ball and make minor adjustments then to get to target.  Sorry about all the questions! Thanks!

Kerry
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 11:24:21 AM by kerrymarcy »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2013, 12:37:12 PM »
Kerry,

Don't worry about the questions. I don't mind them.

On the matter of the late addition of the IDY, I would usually only do that if I want to extend the fermentation window. As I have mentioned before on the forum, the late addition of the IDY was not new with me. A couple of other members did it, and that prompted me to do the same. I later read that the late addition of the yeast was an old baker's trick.

To extend the fermentation window even further, you can use ADY instead of IDY, but use it dry. ADY usually requires that one prehydrate it in water at a temperature of around 105 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Most people would not think to use it in dough in a dry state but that will work. However, it will work very slowly. I tested ADY in dry form when I did my reverse engineering of the Papa John's clone dough. The Papa John's dough is made in commissaries and delivered to its stores about twice a week. The dough is intended to be usable from about three to eight days. For a dough to last eight days takes a lot of science. I believe that PJ is using the late addition of yeast, most likely ADY. To read about my PJ cloning efforts using dry ADY, see Reply 48 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg64308.html#msg64308. As you can see from Reply 48, ADY used dry really slows things down.

There are other ways of extending the usable life of a dough. These include using very small amounts of yeast, low temperature water (even ice cold), using a metal storage container, and using low fermentation temperatures. However, when doing these sorts of things, you have to be careful that you don't try to keep things so cold that the yeast doesn't perform its duties and ferment the sugars in the dough. I also learned that most people do not want to wait too many days for the dough to be ready. They want to eat their pizzas while they are still young.

I view the methods I came up with using the three attachments to my mixer as ways of improving the hydration of the flour. Sometimes a dough will feel wet or tacky or sticky simply because the flour was not hydrated enough. The end result might be that there is too much water on the outside of the dough ball rather than being trapped within and between the protein and the starch molecules. The use of the three mixer attachments was to create the latter effect rather than the former effect. I did not use this method as a way of increasing the useful live of the dough. Maybe there are some second order effects that extend the useful life of the dough, but I do not know what they are or how to quantify them.

With respect to dusting the dough balls after they have been formed out of the mixer, I do not do that. I never have. My practice has been to coat or brush the dough balls with a bit of oil so as to keep the dough balls from developing skins on the outer surface. But recently, as part of cloning the De Lorenzo pizza dough, I have left the dough balls dry since it was reported that the De Lorenzo dry dough balls made dry skins, and dry skins were desirable for their type of pizza. Or, so the story goes.

Peter


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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2013, 02:08:49 PM »
Kerry, when I make pizza, it's usually a triple batch of dough and I add about a couple teaspoons of flour when I knead by hand. If you're using the mixer, you don't have to knead by hand if you don't want to, but it wouldn't hurt to mimic the flour addition I do when hand kneading and add a teaspoon of flour per dough ball.

We're not really talking about that much flour here, so it's not that critical, but it wouldn't hurt to do what I do.  Flouring the dough balls will make a much bigger difference.  Generally speaking, when you work with dough, it's fairly common practice to flour it. The only time that I dial back the flour is when I'm balling so that I'm ensuring the dough will grip itself and form a good seal.


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2013, 02:27:37 PM »
Kerry,

To add to what Scott has said, if you find it necessary to add more flour in order to achieve the desired final dough condition, I would add the flour to the bowl during kneading. If you try to do that after the dough has come out of the mixer bowl, and especially if you end up trying to incorporate too much flour at that point, you may find that it doesn't knead in well. Then you might have a harder time trying to close the dough ball so that it doesn't have seams. Those seams might lead to defects in the skin when you open up the dough ball.

Peter

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2013, 03:38:14 PM »
Peter and Scott,

Thank you guys for giving me some good food for thought.  I can see that there are many variables and ways to do things with dough and still stay within the parameters of the dough formulation.  From now on, I will not be afraid to "tweak" my dough if it is a bit sticky. 

Peter,  just for the fun of it, I tried your technique with all the attachments as you did in the thread you sent me.  That took a bit of work! - And when I was finished, the dough still seemed a bit sticky, but not as sticky as before.  I was interested in finding out for myself the answer to the question of hydration and not so much about longer ferment times.  The dough felt exceptionally soft and well incorporated, but I still felt the need to incorporate a bit more flour (about 3 teaspoons) by hand for around 30 seconds before I could ball.  I sprinkled the balls with light flour before putting into containers.  I did the best I could do with retrieving most of the dough from the attachments, but came up about 70 grams short of my target.  I think I'll wait for about 4 days to open dough.  i'll let you know how it turns out.

Scott, is it alright to knead in flour if needed when balling or should it be done before balling?  Is there a problem of closing the dough if this is done as Peter is suggesting?

Kerry
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 03:41:54 PM by kerrymarcy »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2013, 04:14:08 PM »
Kerry,

What you might do next time if you repeat your experiment is to use a bowl residue compensation in the dough calculating tool. You might calculate the shortfall from your current batch and use that number, or one slightly larger, in the dough calculating tool.

Peter

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2013, 04:33:55 PM »
Peter, I will use the bowl residue compensation factor next time now that I know that I fell roughly 70 grams short of target.  How was your dough when you did this experiment?  Do you feel that it needed a bit more flour before balling?  Do you think that the additional 3 teaspoons of flour was a concern? Thanks.

Kerry

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2013, 07:15:11 PM »
Kerry,

When I conducted my experiments, the dough might have been a bit tacky, but not wet or sticky. And that tackiness usually disappeared as the dough fermented. I don't recall having to use flour to dry the dough balls. My practice was to oil the dough balls as they were put into their storage containers.

I don't see any problem using an addtional three teaspoons of flour. Three level teaspoons of the KABF weigh only 7.2 grams. That is very small in relation to the original 622 grams of flour. There is no need to be concerned.

Peter

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2013, 09:17:46 PM »
Peter, Maybe I jumped the gun a bit by adding the flour. Next time I'll try it with no added flour and see how it comes out.  Thanks so much for all your help!  I'll let you know how this batch turns out.

Kerry

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2013, 11:13:12 PM »
Peter,  I would like to share with you some of my observations that I got by doing your experiment.  Firstly,  hydrating the flour, in this way, did seem to play a very important part with respect to the issue that I have been experiencing with sticky dough. I did add about 3 extra teaspoons of flour, but perhaps maybe I didn't need that much.  When I was done, the dough was noticeably a bit more soft and satiny (it really looked happy... if dough could look happy).  It was a very messy process for me (although I forgot to lightly oil the attachments as you did) and now realize that I probably should have incorporated a residue factor as you had mentioned because I came up about 70 grams short of target.  I made a pie after a two-day ferment to gat a baseline.  I thought it had an equal taste as compared to most of my doughs after two days.  After a three-day ferment, I made 2 pies for the family and thought that it had a better taste than most of my similar doughs, and was very impressed.  After day 4,  It looked pretty fermented, but it looked like it could go another day without any major issues.  I did find that the dough was a bit stickier than the previous days ( I don't know why), but this dough had a significantly better taste than the previous days and probably one of the best tasting pies that I have made in a while. It seemed to have more of a malted taste that I really enjoyed.  I wish that I didn't make two pies after the three-day ferment (my wife talked me into it!) so that I could observe and taste what a five-day ferment was all about.  Bummer!  One of the biggest observations that I made was that the extensibility was spot on.  It was truly one of the best doughs that I have ever worked with.  You could really stretch this dough without compromising any edges and without tearing.  I think that this, in itself, is worth the extra effort.  Next time, I look forward to going beyond a four-day ferment to see what happens.  The following picture was from the four-day ferment.  I made a hawaiian type pizza  and the toppings were a bit heavy but tasted outrageously good.

Kerry
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 12:33:09 AM by kerrymarcy »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2013, 09:34:48 AM »
Kerry,

I am glad to hear that you achieved good results. With a few corrective steps, you should get even better results.

As a dough ages, there are enzymes in the flour and also acids that are created during fermentation that attack the gluten structure and cause it to release water (the water bonds are broken), resulting in a somewhat wet or damp dough. That is quite normal but you usually don't want that process to go too far since it can make the dough harder to handle and the pizza might not bake up quite right.

I might add that recently I have been making test doughs over at the Tomato Pies thread where the combined values of hydration and oil have been around 56-59%. In my mixer, I found that I got improved hydration and cohesion of the dough using the series of steps listed at the bottom of the post at Reply 745 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,25401.msg281529.html#msg281529. I am referring specifically to steps 1-5 (the remaining steps are dough specific). I realize that you have been working with higher hydration values where stickiness has been a problem, but the above steps for my mixer have worked out pretty well. I think that they should also work out well with higher hydration doughs. In a way, it is like what you tested but omitting the whisk attachment.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 02:31:40 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline kerrymarcy

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2013, 03:56:11 PM »
Peter,

Thanks for the reply.  I will try the steps that you outlined in that post tonight.  I have a question with step 5 of your post:

"5. With the C-hook attached, knead the dough at speeds 2-3 for about 6 minutes. Try to keep the dough ball outside of the C-hook so that it doesn't become impaled on the C-hook and spin without kneading (stop the mixer from time to time to do this if necessary)."

I have had an issue with the dough getting impaled on the C-hook quite often.  I try to remove the dough from the hook, by hand, and resume mixing, but it seems like it just gets attached again very quickly.  Is there any remedy for this or do I just keep the issue attended to? 

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Hydration Frustration
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2013, 05:02:35 PM »
Kerry,

What I have found with my mixer is that it is stickiness of the dough that sometimes causes it to stick to the C-hook and be pulled into the C-hook and rotate with the C-hook. However, what I found is that if you lightly sprinkle some flour onto the dough ball or onto the side of the mixer bowl, that helps reduce the stickiness of the dough ball and reduces the likelihood of its sticking to the C-hook and being drawn into it. This is not a perfect solution but I have not found a better solution. You don't need much flour for my solution. Just a sprinkling here or there.

Peter


 

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