The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Arjon's picture

Calculating hydration % when using a soaker or porridge

I'm not clear on how to calculate what the hydration % is when a recipe includes soaker or porridge. For example, if I use 500 gm of flour and 350 gm of water, it's 70%. NP so far.

But what if I add 200 gm of soaker or porridge that is made up of 100 gm water plus 100 gm grain? 

I still have the same 500 gm of flour, but now have 450 gm total of water. So is the hydration still 70% or is it now 90%? Or do I have to weigh how much of the soaker water hasn't been absorbed by the grain, then add just that weight to get the total water weight to use in hydration %? Or something else entirely? 

Or am I just unclear about something that doesn't matter enough to worry about? 

Abelbreadgallery's picture

Happy new baking year

a_warming_trend's picture

A North Carolina Perspective

Well, I guess now is as good a time as any to introduce myself! 

I've only been baking bread since this past summer, but I've pretty much fallen in love. I started with flatbreads, moved on to no-knead breads with commercial yeast, discovered preferments...then I embarked on the process of raising two sourdough cultures (one with rye flour, one will all-purpose). It was an emotional rollercoaster, but I now maintain and bake with both. I know that most serious home bakers don't keep two, but I just can't shake the feeling that they're each contributing something unique to my bread-making. I'll probably get over intuition, but it's fun to indulge it for now.

I have so many thoughts and questions about a range of subjects: levain percentage, autolyse, hydration level, retarding, shaping, temperature at various stages...

For this post, I'll just include some photos of recent loaf exploits (although I'm sure I won't upload them correctly the first time and will have to edit...apologies in advance).

I hope to make a first "real" post in the next few days, documenting a controlled experiment in long cold bulk ferment vs. long cold proof (holding all other variables constant). 

Thanks to all of you for maintaining such a great venue for bread talk!





Cher504's picture

Yeast Water question

Today I made these Rustic durum baguettes [formula was posted by isand88] with my yeast water made from concord grapes. They were a hit! Here's some photos

They were difficult to score and maneuver, but they still bloomed nicely in the oven. My first attempt at baguettes! And my second bake using the yeast water - the first one was a 1,2,3 loaf that had a noticeable hint of grape aroma and awesome!

I have a question about using the yeast water in general - I'm planning to bake the 75% whole wheat levain bread from FWSY. If anyone is familiar with the Forkish formulas, this is one of his hybrid loaves. It's basically a sourdough bread but it calls for a scant 1/2 tsp of yeast in the final dough. I was thinking about using yeast water instead since it helps with moisture and a more open crumb. So how much yeast water should I use? The entire dough is a little over 1800g, and it has 360g of levain. Would I use the yeast water in place of part of the water in the dough? Or should I mix it with a small portion of the flour and make a kind of yeast water slurry? 

Happy Holidays to everyone - I've been drooling over all the holiday baking posts. What a wonderful community this is!




dabrownman's picture

50 Percent Whole Grain 25 Percent Sprouted 9 Grain SD with Whey

We took another step down the sprouted grain trail this week, even after vowing not too, when we decided to defrost the chest freezer and found a peanut butter jar full of frozen whey in the bottom of the icy depths near the bottom-  along with too many quarter hunks of bread.


Other changes this week are that we reduced the amount of levain to 10%, changed the 3 slap and fold sessions to 4, 2 and 1 minute keeping the 3 following stretch and folds the same.  This weeks whole and sprouted grains were a 9 grain mix of emmer, spelt, rye, wheat, einkorn, oat, Desert Durum, Kamut and barley.


We did not retard the 3 stage levain for 24 hours, like we normally would and we did not retard the shaped loaves for 12 hours as normal either.  We decided to try a bulk 12 hour retard followed by 2 hours of warm up in the heating pad and then a 2 hour final proof in the basket, also on the heating pad.


We used the oval bottom of the MagnaWare, Magnalite aluminum turkey roaster for a cloche over the bread and stone this week instead of the bottom of a thick round aluminum pot.


We did 18 minutes under steam at 450 F after preheating to 500 F and then did 15 at 425 F convection to finish if off uncovered and baked it to 205 F instead of the our usual 210 F for sprouted grain bread.


This one puffed itself up and sprang mightily under steam and cracked between the 3 slashes as well as blooming at the slash.  It baked up the beautiful mahogany color we love so much. It didn’t blister much as the last 3 sprouted grain bakes but it was nicely crisp as it came out of the oven.  It also smelled fantastic when it came out of the oven.


We won’t get to cut it for taste and crumb inspection till later but we think it will be similar to the last 3 bakes based on spring and bloom.  The Holidays have been pleasantly uneventful, calm, stress free and cheerful this year.


We have my daughter’s boy friend staying with us and we got to do some fishing on the lake but got skunked first time out.   Cousin Jay also joined us for Christmas Eve prime rib dinner.   Our daughter made the salad, sides and rolls this year – yea!

The crumb came out much tighter than we had hoped but exactly the way it always comes out when we bulk retard for 12 hours, let it warm up for 2 hours and then shape and proof.   The crumb is always more open when we shape adn then retard for 12 hours and let the basketed dough warm up on the counter for 1 and a half hours before baking.  Working he dough again to shape right before baking 2 hours later really makes the crumb tight.  The taste was similar even though this bake had an extra 2 hours of time on the counter on the heating pas after gluten development

Another batch of chocolate rugelach and the prime rib before roasting


Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



4 Week Retarded Rye Sour Starter






83% Extraction Whole & Sprouted






17% Extract Whole & Sprouted
























Levain Totals


















Levain Hydration






Levain % of Total Flour












Dough Flour






83% Extract Sprouted & Whole Grain






KA Bread Flour






Total Dough Flour






























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter






Whey & Water 56












Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Grain






% Sprouted Grain












9 Whole and sprouted grains include equal amounts of




oat, barley, einkorn, rye, spelt, emmer (Hayden farro), Kamut, Desert Durum and wheat.


Half the whole grains were sprouted







varda's picture

A year in bread

A year ago, I decided to close down my little bake to order business, and see what else I could cook up.   I got my wholesale license, and into a pretty decent market, and set out to make a lot of bread.   A lot of bread all depends where you are coming from.   I'm baking out of my kitchen with fairly small equipment and it sure seems like a lot to me.    I picked up several wholesale customers, and just when I think I have that under control, I bake for a big market, all semblance of control vanishes, and I just bake as much and as fast as I can.  

In the meantime, I added a business partner (aka life saver) and the two of us hunt for the mythological rental that will allow us to expand from micro to small, shop for the equipment we hope to be able to buy once we find the rental and so forth.  

But that's just business.   The main thing is the bread.

Flaxseed Rye, Multigrain Cranberry and Durum Levain

Multigrain Sunflower Seed

Borodinsky Rye


New York Rye

Cherry Boule


Challah Rolls and...

Cardamom Buns

Oh, and I forgot the baguettes - 

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!




kenlklaser's picture

Figuring out bigger crumb holes

Sort of straight dough, but with 4% over-fermented sponge which I make up ahead of time and keep in the freezer, so I guess it's really sponge and dough.

This post has been edited, dabrownman in the comments below made me realize something was wrong in the formula presentation.  My apologies for any confusion that the flawed formula may have caused.  As a result of this edit, some comments may now be out of context.


 total  final  sponge 
 formula  dough    
 %g %g %g
Baker's Flour, 11.8% protein4%30    100%30
Pastry Flour, 9% protein96%720 100%720   
malt, low diastatic2%15 2.08%15   
Instant dry yeast0.775%5.81 0.775%5.58 0.775%0.232
cool water55%412.5 49.79%358.5 180%54
 ~~~hydration rest~~~        
cool water15%112.5 15.63%112.5   
salt2%15 2.08%15   

Sponge instructions are located in a comment of mine below dabrownmans.

Final dough: Mix pastry flour, AB mauri low-diastatic malt, instant dry yeast. Add water, mix briefly until just combined and let rest for 20 minutes.  After the time has elapsed, mix again.

Add salt, sponge, and water, and mix well until gluten is well developed. Warning: Increasing the hydration after autolyze makes for difficult mixing.

Let it bulk ferment to double.  I then refrigerated it overnight (not planned, but unexpected circumstances demanded it), punched it down once. In the morning, weighed, divided into 3 equal weight portions, let it warm a little, shaped, and let it proof to 1.5 gas:dough ratio, scored, and baked in a dry oven at 450°F for 20 minutes.

Not real happy with the crust, not as crispy as I'd like, but this flour seemed the secret of a bread I'd been trying to duplicate for years. It has a nice soft, melt in your mouth crumb, like a restaurant from the 1980s in Bird Rock (San Diego) used to have in their baguettes, The French Pastry Shop.

Update: reheated the batards this evening in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, and the crust was divine, nice and crispy without being tough. 

golgi70's picture

SJSD with T85

SJSD is a wonderful loaf of mildly acidic sourdough with a most excellent crust and a lovely open crumb from a long cold bulk ferment and minimal handling.  It also works very well for me since I'm limited on space in the fridge.  I can reduce the 24-36 hours in a cold fridge and leave at a slightly warmer temp outside overnight.  Right now that is in the high 40's low 50's.  As winter pushes along it will be colder and I simply just mix it earlier in the evening to give it extra time.  When it's warmer in the evenings during summer I mix it a bit later and once I have some room in the fridge in the AM I move it in the tail end of it's bulk. 

I found out Friday that a friend was doing a crab boil for her birthday and decided to make some bread to go with it.  I had to work with my extra starter for my Levain.  I used the same amount of PF as per usual but a bit more than half was stiff wheat and the remainder my rye sour.  Then i got lazy and didn't want to take out the mill for such a small amount of Wheat so I adjusted.  I cut the WW altogether (minus what's in the starter) and decreased some white flour to add 20% overall Central Milling T85.  

The rest went as per usual.  

1 hour autolyse without the cultures.  

Mix in cultures followed by salt to a very soft and undeveloped dough.  

Bulk 1 hour at room temp with 3 folds @ 20,40, and 60 minutes.  

Then outside to the cool evening air for 12 hours.  

Divide, preshape, rest 1 hour.  Shape to lightly floured couche.  

Proof about 50 mintues.  

Baked 500 with steam for 17 minutes and vented for 25-30 minutes longer.  


This might be my best rendition yet.  

Cheers and Happy Healthy Holiday's to All



chell's picture

Going from 200g to 250g of starter


I'm new to the world of sourdough baking so sorry if this is too basic a question:

I'm currently working on getting 200g of sourdough starter ready to use. Once it's ready I'd like to use a recipe that calls for 250 g of starter. I'm not planning on maintaining a "mother" for now (I'll use all of my starter for the dough). Would it be ok to just add an extra 25 g of water and flour (so 75g water/flour total) during the last feed before baking to get it up to 250g?


master_wort's picture

wort bread II

Here comes a new wort bread, perfect to chrismas. Check even out my two latest bread


500 g water

750 g wheat flour

250 g whole wheat flour

500 g rye sourdough

100 g wort extract, liquid

45 g brown sugar

8 g minced bitter orange

5 g minced ginger

4 g minced cardamom

3 g minced clove

7 g fresh yeast

25 g salt

225 g raisins


Soak the raisins. Mix all ingredients in the machine except the salt for 10 minutes. Then add the salt and continue for 5 minutes. Let it rest for 90 minutes in a plastic box. After 45 minutes fold te dough. Divide the dough in 4 pieces and pre shape the to a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then shape them and let the proof in the fridge over night.

Bake them in owen 250 degree celcius 5 minutes with steam in the beginning, then 200 degree celcius, total time around 40 minutes until the inner bread temperature is 98 degree celcius.

After you have take them out brush them with some water and potato wheat that have been boiled up.