Is the 40.15% water content of the dough ball based upon water added (i.e., water and the water content of molasses), or does the 40.15% also account for the moisture component of the "dry" ingredients (i.e., flour has 10-15% moisture content)?
If it is based upon water added, then the dough would have a traditional hydration rating of 67% (as that term is typically used in a bakers percent recipe to represent the water added).
If it is based upon the total volume of water in the 18 ounce dough ball regardless of the source of the water, then the traditional “hydration” value will be lower.
From the looks of the recipe in your post from February 04, 2015, 04:06:00 PM, the 40.15% water content represents the moisture weight in the dough ball from all sources. If that is the case, then the February 04, 2015, 04:06:00 PM recipe has a traditional hydration rating of 53.7% (based upon 305.1 grams flour, 154.75 grams of water and the water content of the molasses, say 25% of 37.17 grams = 9.3 grams, so 154.75 plus 9.3 equals about 164, divided by 305.1, equals 53.7% traditional hydration). With only 1.9% oil, the traditional effective hydration (adding the % oil to the % water) would be 55.6%.
Does effective hydration of 55.6% seem on the low side? I know some MMs workers can toss the MM dough like crazy, and my reading on tossable dough indicates a lower hydration is better, so maybe 55.6% is an accurate measure of the traditional effective hydration rating for MM dough.
Those are all good questions.
By way of background, the roughly 40% number came as a result of hydration bake tests that Norma and Chicago Bob conducted with real MM doughs. I later achieved the same numbers with some of my MM clone doughs on which I conducted my own hydration bake tests. That gave me some confidence in the water content of the MM clone doughs. By "water content", I mean the totality of the water that is bound up in the flour, the formula water, and the water content of the molasses products. Under U.S. law, the FDA says that the moisture content of flour cannot exceed 15% (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=137.105
) but most domestic white flours typically are at around 14%. However, the actual moisture content of the flour can fall below that as the flour moves through the distribution channel and ends up in warehouses and, eventually, the users' facitilies, whether it is a bakery or a consumer's home. To cite an example, a sample of the Gigantic flour was tested by an outside laboratory and the moisture content of that flour was 12.22%, as noted in the nutrition document at http://cdnimg3.webstaurantstore.com/documents/nutrition/104gigantic.pdf
. Since I don't know in any given instance what the actual moisture content is for a flour that I am studying, I use the 14% number. If it so happens that I add vital wheat gluten (VWG) or wheat germ, which have generic moisture contents of 8.2% and about 11%, respectively, I take those water contents into account when I do my calculations although as a practical matter they do not move the water needle much.
As for the water content of molasses, the typical water content of a generic molasses is 22%, but for a product like the Steen's 100% pure cane syrup, it is between 23-25%. So, when I come up with MM clone dough formulations using these products, including blends, I take the water content of those products into account when I do my calculations of the total water content of the dough in question.
Normally, when we talk about formula hydration, we don't usually talk about the moisture content of the flour or other ingredients that contain water, but to have a better understanding of the actual hydration, it makes sense to take into account the water content of ingredients other than the flour that do contain water. It might be eggs, or milk, or liquid sweeteners, or beer, or whatever. Factoring the water contents of these ingredients into the hydration calculus gives us a better idea as to what the actual hydration of a dough is. I would not consider a hydration number in the mid-50% range in cases like this to be unusual. Adding oil to the equation will increase that number, and gives us the effective hydration of the dough. I have long believed that MM uses a high protein. high gluten flour and a relatively low hydration value (nominal and as adjusted as discussed above) so that the dough in the hands of young, often transient workers is idiot-proof. In my mind, that is the genius of what MM has done. Workers are able to easily toss and spin skins and if tears develop they fix them and move on.
To cite a specific example of the above matters, yesterday and today I played around with an MM clone dough formulation for an 18-ounce dough ball that was based on using the nutrition information for the Gigantic flour (as given in the above referenced pdf document) and a molasses blend of 65% Steen's and 35% Grandma's Original molasses. My calculations were premised by the MM nutrition information. This is what I ended up with:
|Gigantic High Gluten Flour (100%):|
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (1.55067%):
Steen's/Grandma's Molasses Blend (11.3685%):
|309.51 g | 10.92 oz | 0.68 lbs|
153.33 g | 5.41 oz | 0.34 lbs
1.86 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.62 tsp | 0.21 tbsp
5.61 g | 0.2 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1 tsp | 0.33 tbsp
4.8 g | 0.17 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.06 tsp | 0.35 tbsp
35.19 g | 1.24 oz | 0.08 lbs
510.3 g | 18 oz | 1.13 lbs | TF = N/A
Note: No bowl residue compensation
As you can see, the nominal hydration is only 49.54%. But when you add in the roughly 8.2 grams of water in the molasses blend, the adjusted hydration becomes about 52.2%. And when you add in the roughly 1.55% soybean oil, the effective hydration becomes about 53.75%. When I calculated the total water content of the dough, using the more standard 14% number for the flour which I deem to be more typical for a fresh flour, it was 40.14%. Since I don't have access to the Gigantic flour, I cannot say with certainty how the above formulation will work out but I know that I can always tweak the dough with whatever flour I do use if it is too dry by adding a bit more water.
Each MM clone dough formulation stands on its own and will vary depending on the type of flour used and the molasses or molasses blend used.