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Hydration issue with artisan bread!

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Allenph's picture
Allenph

Hydration issue with artisan bread!

All right, well, long story short I did some research on hydration percentages because my bread was turning out a little dense. After some research, my understanding was that you add the weight of the dry ingredients up and then sum up the weight of the wet ingredients, and finally divided the weight of the wet ingredients by the dry ingredients. I'm trying to make some baguettes,  but my dough is REALLY dry, I think I've done something wrong. I do not have a scale, so I researched the average weight of a cup of water, and a cup of flour. YES, I do know how to measure flour directly, I did not dig. 

Assumed 125g per cup of flour, and 237g per cup of water.

1 1/4 Cups Water (296g)

3 1/2  Cups Flour (437)

1 Tablespoon Yeast

1 Tablespoon Salt

I'm trying to make French bread, which (I think.) has a 65-70% hydration percentage. I came up with 69% which is the high end of French bread.

My dough is so dry, I'm having trouble incorporating all of the flour. Hopefully I get a response in time to save this loaf, but if not I'll start over. Help!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

which is low if you are using a high protein bread flour. (what kind of flour ???)   Also 2% salt would be about 8.7g , a tablespoon of heavy table salt can be over 3%.  Taste the dough, does the dough strike you as salty?  Salt does absorb water and may be throwing things off.  Add water a tablespoon at a time until it comes together nicely.  Even now better than an hour after first posting.

Can be that your cups are heavy and weigh more than 125g.  

Allenph's picture
Allenph

I'm just using all purpose flour, I was tempted to buy some King Arthur flour, because I know it has extra gluten, but I figured it could not be that much difference. Dough doesn't taste salty to me, but I haven't had any homemade bread except my own in recent memory, so it's not much to go on. 

I'm kind of in the dark with the texture of bread dough, for the same aforementioned reason. The other bread I've made was slightly sticky. After adding some water over time, I guessed that it was ready. Guessed. It was still much drier than any other previous dough I've made, (Note I've never actually read a signal recipe.) And as with every other dough I've ever made after twenty or more minutes of kneading, I was still unable to get that silky stretchy texture when pulling the dough. 

Any ideas?

Mirko's picture
Mirko

See this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvdtUR-XTG0 , it's verry good kneading method.

Mirko

Allenph's picture
Allenph

I have actually seen that video, I was very much looking forward to using it this time! The problem is, the dough is one-hundred times too dry to even remotely consider doing it his way. 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I double checked your math, and it does seem to work out - though your recipe is very unlike anything I use for baguettes - it is much higher in yeast  than any recipe I use.  Is is possible that you lost count when measuring 3 1/2 cups, and actually used more ( I do that from time to time, one great benefit of an electronic scale is if you get confused, you put an empty bowl on the scale and set it to zero then dump everything into the  bowl and then check the total against what you thought you added.)  If you have made the recipe before, just keep adding a little more water, then let it rest for 5 minutes,  then check and add a little more if you need to. 

breadbakin fool's picture
breadbakin fool

I think 1 1/4 cups of water is 10 oz, which is actually only about 284g. That means you are actually only at about 65% hydration.  I would definitely try adding more water to increase your hydration till the dough is as workable as it should be. 

Allenph's picture
Allenph

It turned out all right. But, not nearly s good as some of my other recipes. It was rather salty, perhaps I should scale down to a teaspoon of each rather than a tablespoon for such a small amount of dough. Even after adding about 1/4 cup more water, the French kneading method would have been all but impossible. Slapping it down on the table simply did not stretch the dough far enough to continue the knead without manual stretching, I never did achieve the perfect dough texture, but after it's second raise the dough did seem to have a nice spring to it. I shall try again tomorrow, I am worried however about the diameter of my cells. 

They're very thin despite an hour raise each time, and I'm afraid to add more water because I feel I might not be getting that traditional French bread accolade I am seeking. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and forget volumes.  KA baguettes on their web site are 67% hydration and I get small to medium holes and the dough is very easy to work with.  Big holes require 75% hydration and a nice 24 hour retard.  If you were measuring your ingredients by  volume that was your problem.

When I measure 3.5 C of AP I get 497 g not 437.  Your water weight is spot on at 296 so you are at 59 3% by my measuring cups. Very dry indeed.  This is the problem with cups instead of grams.

Hope this helps

Antilope's picture
Antilope

of water, which is 8 fl oz. Others hold 237g of water, so depending on the measuring cup, it may be 227g or it may be 237g. 

I am in the U.S. I always weigh all of my ingredients.

I urge people to fill your measuring cups with water to the 1 cup mark and see how many grams are registered on your scale. You may be surprised.

 

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

It would be almost worth it to forgo baking for a while, putting the money into an inexpensive scale.  I guess it depends on the prices you're being offered.  I just bought one for less than $25 US.

proth5's picture
proth5

the amount of water you must add is another.

Yes, weighing the ingredients to your formula will help a lot, but always have some extra water at the appropriate temperature at the ready.

Experience will teach you how the dough should look and feel in the early stages of the mix, but if it feels too dry - add water.  Maybe not a whole lot of water, maybe not all at once, but do add some more.  In general, a baguette dough will be a bit tacky before the bulk ferment - it will gain strength and get less tacky as it ferments and is given folds.

If you have no one to stand over your shoulder and teach you this you will need to experiement.  Remember what the texture of the dough was at the end of your mixing  - before you have kneaded it - and note how it acts when kneading (or doing slap and folds - whatever).  If it seems too dry during or after kneading remember to get it "more wet" the next time during the mix. This is when to correct the hydration.

I've just gone through an experience where every mix required extra water above and beyond the formula - the climate or the condition of the flour itself may cause you to need to make adjustments. A little more water never hurts if things are feeling dry.

BTW: I've seen wonderful open crumb in baguettes at a nominal 68% hydration with no overnight retard - it is a matter of getting the fermentation right and careful handling through all of the steps.

Hope this helps.

Allenph's picture
Allenph

Thanks to all of you! you've pushed me along on my little quest. 

I did go ahead and order a cheap scale, I found one for less that seven dollars total on Amazon. 

I'm very eager to try again when it gets here, and also a bit curious to see what my cups actually weight. 

I'll update this thread in a week or so, but first, one last question. Will water used have an effect? I live in the middle of nowhere, and the tap we have comes from a well in our yard, straight from the Upper Floridian aquifer. However, I'm curious if using distilled water would have any benefits? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the well water, a high pH may have a delayed slowing effect on sourdough bacteria and yeast. 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

Once you have a digital scale, it's good to know if it's weighing accurately.

To test a digital scale if you don't have a special calibration weight you can use coins: (Make sure to use new, shiny coins. Worn coins will weigh less).
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A U.S. nickel (5-cent coin for non-Americans) weighs exactly 5.00 grams and a U.S. cent (since 1983) weighs exactly 2.50 grams.
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U.S. Cents 1981 and before weigh 3.11 grams. (In 1982 solid bronze U.S. cents were replaced with copper plated zinc U.S. cents. In 1982 both metal types of U.S. cents were made.)
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Here is the U.S. Mint web page on coin specifications. Cent through dollar coin weight in grams:
http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/?action=coin_specifications
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Cent (since 1983) - 2.500 g
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Nickel (since 1866) - 5.000 g
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Dime (since 1965) - 2.268 g
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Quarter (since 1965) - 5.670 g
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Half Dollar (since 1971) - 11.340 g
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Golden Dollar Coin (since 2000) - 8.1 g
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Silver American Eagle Collectors Dollar - 31.103 g (1.00 troy oz)
http://www.usmint.gov/downloads/mint_programs/am_eagles/AMERSILVREAGLE.pdf
.

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Canadian coins are lighter. A Canadian 5-cent coin weighs 3.95 grams since 2000. A Canadian 1-cent coin weights 2.35 grams since 2000. Before 2000 coin weights changed several times due to changes in metal content.
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If you live in another country, check out your government mint web site or coin collectors web sites for gram weights of your local coins.