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Author Topic: How to get the perfect hydration level?  (Read 1933 times)

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Offline ElfShin

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How to get the perfect hydration level?
« on: May 25, 2016, 06:03:43 AM »
First off, I'm not doing much baking outside of the realms of pizza, my apologies if this is common knowledge.

So far I've experimented with hydration levels between ~ 58-68 % (depending on the type of flour and pizza style). Based on my observations, it seems that lower levels of hydration produce dough that is easier to work with/stretch into skins with less sticking to the proofing container etc. Higher levels, on the other hand, result in dough with more oven spring and therefore a (subjectively) "better" crust but can be a real pain to work with.

Are these observations accurate? Are there other indicators to watch out for?

Most importantly, which end of the spectrum should I aim for? And how exactly does perfectly hydrated dough look/feel like (this probably varies quite a bit depending on the pizza style)?

Offline the1mu

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2016, 06:42:26 AM »
There are a lot more people out there who are qualified to answer this in depth, but I feel like the real answer is more about how you develop the dough for the hydration you are working with. Meaning you can build a lot of strength into a high hydration dough that eliminates a lot of the issues you referred to.

Secondly, I think the oven temperature is also relative to the hydration. I could be very wrong on this, but I feel like low and slow is better with a low 60's hydration and high and super fast (like 90 seconds fast) is better with high (65+). Then a dryer dough I feel like benefits from a 600+ temp in order to help quickly convert moisture to steam yet not drive off too much moisture.

Like I said, I could be way off on the second point there, but that is what I'm thinking anyway.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2016, 07:41:31 AM »
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« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 12:09:02 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline GotRocks

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2016, 12:15:39 PM »
Water temperature/finish temperature also have a huge impact on dough too.

I use 40% ice in my dough because I had a problem in summer where my 62% hydration dough was coming out of the mixer like pancake batter, I chilled everything down and solved that, but that technique also delays how long the dough must cold ferment before it is usable, 3-4 days is our typical ferment time because of it
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Offline the1mu

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2016, 12:16:44 PM »

Water temperature/finish temperature also have a huge impact on dough too.

I use 40% ice in my dough because I had a problem in summer where my 62% hydration dough was coming out of the mixer like pancake batter, I chilled everything down and solved that, but that technique also delays how long the dough must cold ferment before it is usable, 3-4 days is our typical ferment time because of it

How long does it take for all that ice to melt/get incorporated into the dough?

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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2016, 12:46:01 PM »
Most importantly, which end of the spectrum should I aim for? And how exactly does perfectly hydrated dough look/feel like (this probably varies quite a bit depending on the pizza style)?

There are a lot of variables, in addition to those mentioned above, that you are not taking into consideration that can greatly affect the answer not the least of which are the choice of flour and your mixing technique. There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to a question like that.
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Offline GotRocks

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2016, 11:20:52 PM »
How long does it take for all that ice to melt/get incorporated into the dough?

We mix for 12 minutes in a spiral mixer  (Single speed, cheap, obsolete,  POJ) and all the ice is melted/incorporated within the first 8 minutes.
We also wait to add oil until there is no more dry flour visible.
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Offline the1mu

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2016, 12:37:50 AM »
We mix for 12 minutes in a spiral mixer  (Single speed, cheap, obsolete,  POJ) and all the ice is melted/incorporated within the first 8 minutes.
We also wait to add oil until there is no more dry flour visible.

I've always waited for the ice to mostly dissolve the strain out the chunks but that was when I was using shorter mix times. I may try it this was as it seems simpler.

Thanks!

Offline Sequioa

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2016, 05:39:13 PM »
Water temperature/finish temperature also have a huge impact on dough too.

I use 40% ice in my dough because I had a problem in summer where my 62% hydration dough was coming out of the mixer like pancake batter, I chilled everything down and solved that, but that technique also delays how long the dough must cold ferment before it is usable, 3-4 days is our typical ferment time because of it
I'm very new to making pizza but can a dough that's to warm can come out like it has too much water in it?

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: How to get the perfect hydration level?
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2016, 01:27:10 AM »
Absolutely! Dough that is too warm will ferment at a faster rate so within any given period of time the warmer dough will receive more fermentation. Depending upon the actual dough temperature and the fermentation time the faster fermentation rate can break down more of the gluten making the dough softer and more extensible. Adding more water to the dough will also make the dough softer and more extensible. Keep in mind that this is only one aspect of a warmer or over fermented dough as there are many other things that come with the greater fermentation.
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