The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
mutantspace's picture

Hydration difference between European and American flours

May 21, 2017 - 5:14am -- mutantspace

I realise the answer to this question is as long as a piece of string but i was just interested on what people thought the hydration difference was between European and US/Canadian flours. When reading american recipes im always aware that there is a discrepancy. I think the difference is approximately/ballpark 5% but it could be more - does anyone any ideas or links to where I could find more info on the subject. I do know that european flours are less absorbent so we would deal with lower hydration percentages in our bakers maths....





KevKim44's picture

A 500g country loaf, from Bouchon Bakery. I continue my journey in mastering the poke test. I think this is my first loaf where the final proof was just right.

Doc.Dough's picture

Below is a proofed demi-baguette that was marked with lines spaced 1.25" apart.  It is about to be baked without any steam as a baseline for testing the hypothesis that steam facilitates the stretching of dough. Since this loaf is not scored, we should expect it to blow out along the side.  But still, if the surface stretches in response to internal pressure generated by the expanding CO2, then we will be able to observe and measure how much stretch there is.

Raw marked no steam


Here is the resulting baked demi-baguette. The spacing between the lines is still very close to 1.25" indicating that there is little or no stretching when baked in a dry oven (this was baked in a combi oven set to hold the box humidity below 20% which effectively removes even the steam that escapes from the bread itself).

Cooked marked no steam

The photo below is another demi-baguette from the same batch that was baked with steam.  It too was marked with lines spaced 1.25" apart before it was baked.  This loaf had a defect on the top that allowed it to open slightly (actually the side-to-side dimension of the slit it almost exactly 0.25"), and the post-bake line spacing is very close to 1.375" except where the defect increases it to 1.625".  So there is some small amount of surface stretching that seems to be facilitated by steam in the oven.

Cooked with steam marked

This loaf was baked in the same combi oven but with the steam generator and humidity controls set to maintain 100% humidity in the oven for the first 7 minutes of the bake (when it was just beginning to brown).

The photo below is another demi-baguette from the same batch that was slashed and baked with steam, illustrating the surface expansion that occurs when a well proofed loaf is slashed to allow the oven spring to open the loaf where you want it to split.

So the data indicates that the difference between having no steam and maximum steam is the difference between no surface area increase, and perhaps ~20% area increase even when there is no steam in the oven. It is a measurable but not significant effect.  However, you can see the difference in color between the steamed and un-steamed loaves, with the steamed loaves having a more yellowish tone and a shiny surface (as opposed to a dull brown surface for the loaf baked without steam.

It is worth noting that this experiment has a sample size of 1 which does not imbue it with great weight in a statistical sense. But it does set expectations and will guide further experimentation.  This particular batch of dough was mixed at 70% hydration, which is a bit higher than the 67% at which I would normally make baguettes. The objective was to build a fairly stretchy dough that I thought might be more amenable to surface stretch than a lower hydration mix.  The next step up would have been 75%, but at that level it is ciabatta and I was not sure that I could put marks on the surface without deflating it.

Slashed unmarked w/ steam


breadforbecca69's picture

Help, my friend don't like that dough doe

May 20, 2017 - 4:33pm -- breadforbecca69

Hey everyone, 

I'm new to this site, so first off I'd like to say hi to all of my fellow amateur artisans and bread enthusiasts! In fact, that's just where my problem lies - my friend is the polar opposite.

Whether it's sandwiches, or even toast, my friend does not accept bread whatsoever; because that glutenous goodness is such a huge part of my life, it's becoming a problem and I need to try and get her to see the light of the loaf. Do I start her off with Ciabatta? Sourdough? Rye?

Piloni's picture

Increasing Volume with stone ground flour

May 20, 2017 - 3:42pm -- Piloni

Hi everybody, hope you can help...

I need Advice on increaaing loaf volume when making sourdough with stone ground flour.

I made the decision months ago to start making all my sourdough with a local very high quality organic stone ground wheat flour (12.8% protein) for flavour, nutritional & economical benefits. However after 3 months of testing formulas and methods I feel I have finally got the best results I can (given my few years experience & the nature of stone ground flour).

mutantspace's picture

These traditional Austrian yeast buns called Buchteln are fabulous

May 20, 2017 - 10:14am -- mutantspace

for anyone interested in yeasted buns these are fantastic @  i made them this morning - 12 of them and they're gone already...not very sweet, filled with your favourite jam and as light a anything...if anyone feels like doing a sourdough version id love to know how they taste...




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