The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

105% hydration for fresh ground?

Joshua in Seattle's picture
Joshua in Seattle

105% hydration for fresh ground?

I just spoke with a talented baker who uses 105% hydration on his very freshly ground grains. By that I take it he means he uses 10.5 ounces of water for every 10 ounces of flour. I followed this ratio in my own home and came up with a loaf that was so wet, it looked like pancake batter. This is much wetter than the "tacky not sticky" standard I've seen elsewhere on this site.


Can anyone explain why a baker might use such a high hydration percentage? Could his flour have been that much drier than mine?


One possible explanation is that I didn't use the "fine" setting on my nutrimill, but rather the middle setting which definitely has some larger particles in it. Maybe this lower surface area is what screwed up the calculation. Perhaps a good soaking would have solved the problem.


Any ideas?


Joshua in Seattle

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

You're close with the 10.5 ounces of water, but not quite. Go with grams. 105g water for every 100g flour would be overkill hydration-wise for anything other than ciabatta. What types of bread is he making with a hydration level like that?

KenK's picture
KenK

10.5 ounces of water to 10 ounces of flour is the exact same hydration as 105 grams to 100 grams.  It doesn't matter what units you use as long as it refers to weight.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Ugh, I think my brain is fried today. Sorry for the confusion on my part.


Carry on.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

I'm currently making bread that is 100% hydration with fresh milled.  The flour just needs that much water to make the dough.  It does depend on the grain that I use for the flour.  The grain before this batch only needed 90% hydration.  The bread is kind of like a no knead bread that I make in a Dutch Oven.

Joshua in Seattle's picture
Joshua in Seattle

Was it tacky not sticky, or more like a batter?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

I think it was about like this.


dough

Joshua in Seattle's picture
Joshua in Seattle

Do you also preferment?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

Yes it is sourdough.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Or a disciple of his, perhaps? Yes, 105% hydration is correct. I took a one-day, naturally leavened whole grain lab class under him at SFBI, and all our breads were 103-105%, and yes, they were very challenging to handle. He had a special kneading method, using very quick strokes with water on the kneading surface rather than flour to keep the almost batter-like dough from sticking. He said that whole grain doughs need the high hydration to cook properly. All I can say is that those were the best naturally leavened 100% whole grain breads I've ever tasted!

Joshua in Seattle's picture
Joshua in Seattle

It was Dave Miller. I spoke to him over the phone, and so didn't have a chance to see the batter-like dough in action. At that level of hydration, you can't very well use your hands, can you? Do you knead with a spatula?

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I think he uses a mixer to make up the dough---I know that's what we did in class. From the mixer, it was dumped into lightly oiled bus tubs and fermented from 1 1/5 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the formula (your starter has to be in tip-top shape). For home size batches you can transfer the dough to a clean,  lightly oiled mixing bowl. We folded the dough once about 2/3 of the way through the bulk ferment.


The key to handling is to get in and out very quickly, scooping up the dough closest or farthest from you with both hands, quickly lifting and flipping the dough over itself. You might need to wet your hands first. Fold from the top down and from the bottom up, then give the bowl a quater turn and repeat, so that you pull it up and over itself from all four sides.


I'm really struggling to remember now, but I think we gave it a few quick kneads in the preshaping process (very important not to overknead). That was done on a stainless steal work bench, with a splash of water to keep the dough from clinging too much. Again, very quick motion stretching and rolling the dough in one fast stroke (you really have to see it demonstrated. If you hesitate, you'll get mired in it, for sure.


The final shaping is even more challenging, and we just watched while he demonstrated. Again, the key is quickness, but he stretched and rolled the dough into a log, dunked the tops into seeds and plopped right into prepared willow baskets. The whole process is a little like playing Hot Potato  : )


If you have the opportunity to get down to Yankee Hill, maybe you could see Dave in action. That would be the best way. I hope to master his method some day, myself  : )


-dw

Joshua in Seattle's picture
Joshua in Seattle

This is fascinating stuff. I look forward to experimenting further with high hydration doughs.


I love this forum. 


Thanks for the insight, both of you.


Joshua in Seattle