Author Topic: What happens at higher hydration (75%) ?  (Read 2852 times)

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Offline tonymark

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What happens at higher hydration (75%) ?
« on: March 05, 2006, 09:57:21 AM »
I have had great results with 62-64% hyhdration, but what happens when I kick it up to 75% ?  Will it be difficult to shape?  Will it change the texture or crumb?

I noticed that The Artisan provides ciabatta recipes with 75% hydration http://www.theartisan.net/Ciabatta_Suite_Frameset.htm .  I have never tried these recipes myself, but what happens to NY Style with this kind of hyrdation?

I generally use the following for 3 pies.  (25 min autolyse with 3 day retardation).

Flour        100.00%
Water           64.00%
IDY                 0.75%
Salt            2.25%

Making Pizza is not cooking, it is Performance Art!

Online Pete-zza

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Re: What happens at higher hydration (75%) ?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2006, 10:25:20 AM »

First of all, it will be extremely difficult to work with a dough with 75% hydration without it sticking all over the place to your fingers and work surface. You could use a couple of bench scrapers to help fold and knead the dough, just as many bakers do with ciabatta type doughs, but you would still have to shape and stretch the dough into a skin. Unless you use a lot of bench flour, which will, in effect, reduce the nominal hydration, you will have a hard time keeping the dough from sticking to your peel, and you would have to work very fast in dressing the pizza. Plus, it isn't a good idea to add a lot of raw bench flour at this point, which can add some bitterness to the finished crust upon baking, and possibly affect the bake itself because of the possibility of the raw "white" flour reflecting heat upon baking. 

Using a pizza screen would most likely be out of the question (the wet dough would seep into the holes in the screen). A pan might work but that would result in a reduced oven spring and defeat one of the purposes of using a higher hydration in the first place. I suppose you might be able to liberally oil the pan and deck the pizza at some point by slipping the pizza onto a pizza stone/tiles, but I have never tried this with a high hydration dough like a ciabatta dough.

I have seen and made pizza doughs with hydrations close to 70% and, contrary to what you may think, the rim was not proportionately larger. I think that when the hydration gets too high, the dough can collapse upon itself because of the weight of water and the inability of the wet dough to hold the gasses properly. Even a ciabatta dough flattens into a "slipper"--which is what "ciabatta" means in Italian.

I suppose the best way to find the answer to your own question is to try making a 75% hydration pizza dough and see what happens. If you understand the potential pitfalls you may be able to work around them. My experience is that most people (pizzanapoletana and Bill/SFNM being notable exceptions) cannot handle very high hydration doughs, especially for large size pizzas where the extensibility of the dough can be very high. After three days of fermentation, the dough will be even harder to shape and stretch and may suffer in other ways because of the very high hydration, including the possibility of overfermtation because of the accelerated fermentation and prolonged gluten attack.


« Last Edit: March 05, 2006, 10:40:22 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline nostalgia

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Re: What happens at higher hydration (75%) ?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2006, 10:41:28 AM »
I recently made a NY style crust that was around 75% hydration.  As Pete said, it stuck to -every- thing it got near.  It wasn't too bad once I got some flour on the outside, but the dough was so slack, it was very difficult to form properly.  It kept wanting to stretch under its own weight.

I documented it in this thread

I'm definately going to stick to 65% or so next time.


Offline Wazza McG

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Re: What happens at higher hydration (75%) ?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2006, 04:32:17 AM »
Yep - that was my experience too (75%+), a very soft dough that was hard to handle.  The only way I overcame handling it was to use a fair amount of raw flour to handle it.  I do not think that is ideal.

They still tasted great, however, I want to aim for 65% now that I know what my 1 cup volume actually weighs for my flour.  I was initially blaming the softness of the dough on over-fermantation, however, this was not the case.  It was simply that the hydration was too high.

If the family prefer "my old pizza's" I might go to 70% to test their reaction.  Pizza's were cooked in my standard oven on the middle shelf (10 minutes), the crumb was light and airy - browning the base better  was always my concern.


Wazza McG

Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!

Offline charbo

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Re: What happens at higher hydration (75%) ?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2006, 02:00:35 PM »
My experience with high-hydration dough is that it works well if you want to pat the dough into a pan.