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Offline OTRChef

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Hydration 101
« on: September 04, 2022, 07:11:37 AM »
Understanding Hydration (Baker's Math) will allow you to make or tweak any pizza dough recipe on the planet!

Hydration 101
Hydration - the process of causing something to absorb water. When it comes to baking, that something is FLOUR! No other ingredient in baking is hydrated. That is why in the process of autolyse, only flour and water should be used. Autolyse is the resting period where flour is allowed to absorb the water before mixing or kneading the dough.

Hydration is based on percentages by weight! Percentages of what? Flour and water, NOTHING ELSE! By definition "percentage" is the rate, number, or amount in each hundred. So, this is where you start, and since it is the flour that will be absorbing the water - FLOUR IS ALWAYS 100! Water is always a percentage of the flour. Now for the easy part, calculating hydration! At least calculating is easy if you use metric weights or gram weights. This is where a kitchen scale becomes invaluable!
Using gram weights, 100g of flour will contain X amount of water - with X being the hydration. Otherwise, a 50% hydration will contain 50g of water for every 100g of flour - or 50/100. A 60% hydration is 60/100. A 70% is 70/100. A 80% is 80/100.  What if the amount of water exceeds the amount of flour? The formula does NOT change. For example, I like to use a 160% hydration for my preferments. Or 160g of water for every 100g of flour, 160/100. Flour is ALWAYS 100!

Bread dough contains more than just flour and water. You might ask, what about ingredients such as salt and yeast? Other than flour and water, they are NOT used in calculating hydration. However, their addition and the amounts used are totally arbitrary and are based on either a percentage of flour (Baker's math) or percentage of total weight of flour + water (scientific math). Let it be said here, whichever method you use to calculate "other" ingredients - their amounts will NOT be be used to calculate hydration but they must be used to calculate the total weight of dough.

Let's make some dough using our understanding of hydration. There are only two questions you need to ask yourself - how much dough do you want to make (size of doughball) and at what hydration?
Let's say you want to make 500g of dough at 65% hydration. What we know is for every 100g of flour there will be 65g of water for a total weight of 165g. Divide the total weight of your 500g doughball by 165 and you get 3.03. Multiply the 100g of flour by 3.03 and you get 303g. Subtract the 303g of flour from the 500g and you get the water, 197g.
Folks it is REALLY that simple!

Other ingredients - using typical amounts as a percentage of flour. Typically 2% salt and 1% yeast is used in bread making. Again using 65% hydration, for every 100g of flour there will be 65g water, but now there will also be 2g of salt, and 1g of yeast - for a total weight of 168g. Now if you want to make 500g of dough, you would divide by 168, 500/168=2.98. Times the 100g of flour is 298g, times the 65g of water is 194g, times the 2g of salt is 6g, and times the 1g of yeast is 3. Add it up, but remember we are rounding off to whole numbers. Total 501g!

What about sourdough starters, or any other preferment? They are made of flour and water, so the amounts used in the preferment is easily calculated and subtracted from the total amounts of flour and water in the recipe. For example, a 100% hydration starter will contain 100g of water for every 100g of flour. A stiff starter might contain only 40g of water for every 100g of flour. A preferment may contain as much as 160g of water for every 100g of flour. However all that matters is how much of the preferment you will be using. Using the 500g doughball, I'll give two examples for a 100% starter and a 40% stiff starter. We'll be using 100g of starter! We won't be adding any other ingredients in these examples. Just flour and water!
100g of 100% starter has 50g of flour and 50g of water. 500g of 65% dough has 303g of flour and 197g of water - so you will use
100g of starter
253g of flour (303-50=253)
147g of water (197-50=147)
Next the stiff starter...
100g of 40% stiff starter has 71g of flour and 29g of water - so you will use
100g of starter
232g of flour (303-71=232)
168g of water (197-29=168)
When you know the math, there is no limit to the recipes YOU can create!


Offline Anton1

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Re: Hydration 101
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2022, 10:59:50 AM »
For example, I like to use a 160% hydration for my preferments.


Interesting.
Why 160% and not 100%?

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Offline B_c707

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Re: Hydration 101
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2022, 09:54:37 PM »
"but remember we are rounding off to whole numbers. Total 501g!"


How did u come up with 501g??

Offline flapbreaker

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Re: Hydration 101
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2022, 10:49:12 AM »
I am confused by this statement

"Let's say you want to make 500g of dough at 65% hydration. What we know is for every 100g of flour there will be 65g of water for a total weight of 165g."


Wouldn't there be 325g of water and not 165 grams?  Maybe i'm not grasping something.

Offline 02ebz06

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Re: Hydration 101
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2022, 11:38:51 AM »
I am confused by this statement

"Let's say you want to make 500g of dough at 65% hydration. What we know is for every 100g of flour there will be 65g of water for a total weight of 165g."


Wouldn't there be 325g of water and not 165 grams?  Maybe i'm not grasping something.

You are correct and so is the other statement.
For every 100g of flour you use 65g of water, so for 500g of flour(100gx5) you multiple the 65g or water also by 5 to get 325g of water for 500g of flour.
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Offline foreplease

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Re: Hydration 101
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2022, 11:58:07 AM »
I am confused by this statement

"Let's say you want to make 500g of dough at 65% hydration. What we know is for every 100g of flour there will be 65g of water for a total weight of 165g."


Wouldn't there be 325g of water and not 165 grams?  Maybe i'm not grasping something.
The answer is in the OPs next sentence or two:
Divide the total weight of your 500g doughball by 165 and you get 3.03. Multiply the 100g of flour by 3.03 and you get 303g. Subtract the 303g of flour from the 500g and you get the water, 197g. Folks it is REALLY that simple!

You are correct in that for 500 g of flour there would be 325 g of water, but the mission was to come up with 500 g of dough, not flour. This ignores the weight of any other ingredients, such as salt, but the OP was trying to be encouraging of easily working with bakers percentages to (approximately) make any size batch you like.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2022, 12:01:50 PM by foreplease »
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Offline gcpizza

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Re: Hydration 101
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2022, 12:35:19 PM »
"Let's say you want to make 500g of dough at 65% hydration. What we know is for every 100g of flour there will be 65g of water for a total weight of 165g."

I think that in trying to simplify the concept of Baker's Percent OTRChef might have introduced some confusion. If one is familiar with Baker's Math it's easy to understand his examples. If this is new to you, I can see how it might be confusing to you.

His example is using a hydration of 65% meaning that for a given amount of flour you're going to need to add 65% of that amount by weight of water.

If you are using 100 g of flour you need to add 65 g of water to achieve a dough hydration of 65%.

100*.65=65 --> giving you a flour+water weight of 165 g

For 500 g of flour you need to add 325 g of water giving a flour+water weight of 825 g.

In the example above making 500 g of DOUGH you're using 303.030 g flour and 196.970 g of water for a flour+water weight of 500 g.

Of course dough also includes other ingredients like salt and yeast. In his example he's using 2% salt and 1% yeast for a total Baker's Percentage of 168%.

(100% + 65% + 2% + 1% = 168%)

King Arthur has a good article explaining Baker's Percent:

https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/pro/reference/bakers-percentage

Pete-zza also has a post in the Newbie section that has a bunch of other links about Baker's Percent.

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