The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hydration of a starter

Schola's picture

Hydration of a starter

How can you work out what is the hydration of your leaven? I made my normal sourdough recipe the other day but used a mixture of flours to use up opened packets.  This time the slashes did not open up well and the bottom of the loaf had a big tear in it. Could the starter have been too wet? I do this as a hobby in a domestic kitchen and have to fit the process round my other kitchen activities and I don't have digital scales. So far I have been quite successful in my measuring/weighing/guess work. 

Any help would be appreciated thanks.

jak123's picture

This reminds me of the old adage "there are no stupid questions."

G-man's picture

Guessing isn't the way to turn out good loaves regularly. It is a good way to waste flour.


The tear makes it sound like the loaf was underproofed.

amolitor's picture

The loaf was almost certainly underproofed. You should let it rise longer before baking. DO you know the "poke test"?

Poke the rising dough with a finger, making a dent about 1/2 inch (1cm) deep. If it fills back in quickly (1 or 2 seconds) your dough is underproofed. It should fill in slowly, so that after 30 seconds or so there is just a dimple remaing. So, there's still some "spring back", some "life" to the dough, but not much. Then, it's ready to bake.

A scale does have its place, I am just being mean and poking fun at G-man a little here. It doesn't have much to do with proofing, though.

The wetness of your leaven probably doesn't have much to do with much of anything. It will subtly change the character of the finished bread, but it doesn't affect whether your loaves will be "successful" or not.