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Author Topic: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour  (Read 983 times)

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Offline 0fficer

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How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« on: September 07, 2022, 03:03:44 AM »
Hello guys, first post here. Thanks for the wealth of knowledge available on this website. Much appreciated.

Where I'm located it's hard to find good flour and perhaps the biggest issue is consistent quality. I like to make high hydration doughs, but if the flour is not capable of retaining the water the dough's can be problematic to work with.

So my basic question is, when I receive a new batch of flour, does someone have a good trick for me how to test if the dough is compatible with higher hydrations?  :chef:

I recently found a 'tipo 00' flour in the shops from Riscossa. See pictures. Is there anyone who can give me some pointers on max hydration and perhaps also if I can use this for longer (cold) fermentation times?

I've tried a 3 day cold fermentation with a 68% hydration, but the dough was very difficult to work with and ripped easily when stretching. I've tried the Vito (youtube pizza guy) poolish route and it was slightly better, but still it seems that 70% hydration is too much for this flour. Thanks for any wisdom you guys can shed on this topic for me!

Offline jsaras

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2022, 10:12:39 AM »
All the cool kids on the internet like to make high hydration doughs with 90% double-reverse biga and then baked them in ovens made from imported recycled chrome muffler bearings. 

I suggest backing down to 57% hydration and eventually work your way back up until you find a sweet spot. 

Caputo’s suggested recipe for Neapolitan pizza is 60.8% water and 2.95% salt.  It can be pushed a little beyond that, but after a certain point it becomes a failed party trick.
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Offline wotavidone

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2022, 05:45:07 PM »
All the cool kids on the internet like to make high hydration doughs with 90% double-reverse biga and then baked them in ovens made from imported recycled chrome muffler bearings. 

I suggest backing down to 57% hydration and eventually work your way back up until you find a sweet spot. 

Caputo’s suggested recipe for Neapolitan pizza is 60.8% water and 2.95% salt.  It can be pushed a little beyond that, but after a certain point it becomes a failed party trick.
Spot on, mate.
The "high hydration" swindle has probably discouraged more people from making their own dough than we will ever know.
Sure, once you get the hang of it you can push up the water for kicks and giggles, but it's far better IMO to start conservatively and hone all the other skills you need to make a decent pizza.

I was watching some youtube videos last night where the guys had the whole high hydration thing happening, but then they were absolutely burying the doughballs in bench flour.
They were first dropping it in a bowl of flour, flipping it a few times and patting it down,  then stretching it on a heavily floured bench.
I sometimes wonder what the effective hydration of your high hydration doughball is after you've managed to adhere another 10 or 15g of flour to your 250g of dough.

So I had a lash at calculating it.
250g dough at 70% hydration is 147g of flour, 103g water. (let's leave the little bit of salt out for simplicity)
So now you treat it as described above.
Say this treatment incorporates another 10 or 15g of flour in the stretched  dough.
Now you have 157 to 162g flour, 103g water. Giving a real hydration of 63.5 to 65.6

Just sayin'  ;D
« Last Edit: September 07, 2022, 06:12:49 PM by wotavidone »
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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2022, 12:26:10 PM »
As a newbie in making more serious pizza dough, I had the feeling I needed a high hydration dough for my regular kitchen oven.

But you guys make a good point. Let me start by making dough at around 60% and see how that goes. I can always increase the hydration!

Thanks!

Offline Timpanogos Slim

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2022, 01:51:55 PM »
Spot on, mate.
The "high hydration" swindle has probably discouraged more people from making their own dough than we will ever know.

Yeah, I've actually seen someone tell a newbie that *real Neapolitan pizza requires much higher hydration.

He was referred to the AVPN official recipe by myself and several others.
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2022, 10:49:24 PM »
All the cool kids on the internet like to make high hydration doughs with 90% double-reverse biga and then baked them in ovens made from imported recycled chrome muffler bearings. 

I suggest backing down to 57% hydration and eventually work your way back up until you find a sweet spot. 

Caputo’s suggested recipe for Neapolitan pizza is 60.8% water and 2.95% salt.  It can be pushed a little beyond that, but after a certain point it becomes a failed party trick.
I've found that Caputo flour really doesn't need as much salt as other "00" flours I've worked with. I've gone with 3% salt at 60% hydration with their Americana flour, and it made a dough that was a bit tough for my liking.
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Offline jsaras

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2022, 12:13:14 AM »
I've found that Caputo flour really doesn't need as much salt as other "00" flours I've worked with. I've gone with 3% salt at 60% hydration with their Americana flour, and it made a dough that was a bit tough for my liking.
Americana is its own beast; quite different from their Pizzeria flour. 

I still haven’t settled on a final formulation for Neapolitan with Caputo Pizzeria.  I’m still experimenting with the salt levels in the dough/salt levels in the tomatoes.  Da Michele has a salty crust and unsalted tomatoes, which is fantastic when they combine it with a 45-second bake time.  My Ardore oven doesn’t do that, but I know that there’s a sweet spot that exists! 
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Online Pizza_Not_War

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2022, 01:14:40 AM »
Figuring max hydration for my purposes starts with an email to the miller. Always good to hear what they say. Recently bought some Poselli super 00 and they told me 70% is an ideal hydration. I found it too bothersome for no perceivable benefit. Dropped down to 65 and then 60% for baking in the high 700s. If I was making a pan pizza or focaccia then 70 would be fine.

Experiment with various levels until you get what you want.

Offline Timpanogos Slim

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2022, 01:52:35 AM »
Figuring max hydration for my purposes starts with an email to the miller. Always good to hear what they say. Recently bought some Poselli super 00 and they told me 70% is an ideal hydration. I found it too bothersome for no perceivable benefit. Dropped down to 65 and then 60% for baking in the high 700s. If I was making a pan pizza or focaccia then 70 would be fine.

Experiment with various levels until you get what you want.

Honestly what is maximum? Maybe I'm making crepes.
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2022, 11:19:16 PM »
Americana is its own beast; quite different from their Pizzeria flour. 

I still haven’t settled on a final formulation for Neapolitan with Caputo Pizzeria.  I’m still experimenting with the salt levels in the dough/salt levels in the tomatoes.  Da Michele has a salty crust and unsalted tomatoes, which is fantastic when they combine it with a 45-second bake time.  My Ardore oven doesn’t do that, but I know that there’s a sweet spot that exists!
So it would appear. I was really quite taken aback at how firm the dough was compared to doughs made with their other flours. in other news, I grabbed a large bag of Granoro "00" flour last Sunday and made a simple 12 hour RT dough with 60% hydration and 3%, and it was the most amazingly supple and easily extensible dough I've ever made, with great aeration in the cornicione. Seriously, if I could get the stuff regularly, I might just not buy another flour ever again, even for NY style pies. If you ever come across that one, I highly recommend it.
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Offline Yael

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2022, 11:04:09 AM »
From my experience, it's true that when I make a 70%-HR dough using the double hydration technique with a given flour I get a nice dough that is completely workable, with a good elasticity etc. But what happens is that AOTBE, its sweet spot doesn't last as long as a regular 60-ish% HR: the gluten network is surrounded by more water, right, then it's also thinner. So the 70%-HR dough becomes easily and rapidly fragile, making it difficult to handle.
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2022, 12:44:49 AM »
From my experience, it's true that when I make a 70%-HR dough using the double hydration technique with a given flour I get a nice dough that is completely workable, with a good elasticity etc. But what happens is that AOTBE, its sweet spot doesn't last as long as a regular 60-ish% HR: the gluten network is surrounded by more water, right, then it's also thinner. So the 70%-HR dough becomes easily and rapidly fragile, making it difficult to handle.
What exactly do you mean by "double hydration"? Are you talking about doing a preferment and also doing an autolyse on the secondary flour, or something like that?
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Offline Yael

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2022, 04:18:51 AM »
What exactly do you mean by "double hydration"? Are you talking about doing a preferment and also doing an autolyse on the secondary flour, or something like that?

No no, the "double hydration" or "bassinage" in French, you know it's the kneading technique using the 2nd/high speed when adding the remaining water.

Start with a regular ~60% hydration at low speed during a few minutes and once the dough is already homogeneous switch to high speed and add the remaining water little by little.
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: How to figure out maximum hydration for a flour
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2022, 09:44:13 AM »
No no, the "double hydration" or "bassinage" in French, you know it's the kneading technique using the 2nd/high speed when adding the remaining water.

Start with a regular ~60% hydration at low speed during a few minutes and once the dough is already homogeneous switch to high speed and add the remaining water little by little.
Okay, good to know. I was already familiar with the term 'bassinage' and what that meant, but I wasn't aware that the speed of the kneading on the second water addition had any relevance. Looks like something I need to look into more.
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