The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hydration Question

wizarddrummer's picture

Hydration Question

Hi everyone,

I have a love for assembling ingredients that explode with rich textures and flavors like paints on a canvas or musical notes heard in an orchestra. I've learned many things in other areas and now I want to move on to another level. Breads and other "yeastie" items are my last hurdle so to speak.

I stumbled on to this site for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Baking Enthusiasts ... I am thinking this could be really good!

My first question has to do with hydration.

I've seen lots of recipes and helpful hints for pizza dough.

If it is not too much to ask, I would like a small chemistry lesson of sorts.

I've seen hydration percentages from 58% to more than 70% in reference to pizza dough. I seem to recall seeing percentages that were even greater for some other types of breads

Currently, I have an oven that will go to 550F. I hope that I will be able to build my wood burning oven within a year. So for now this will have to do.

Can anyone explain what would happen to the finished product (pizza) cooked at 550F with the various hydration percentages?

How are hydration and temperature related? Cooking a pizza at between 850F and 900F vs cooking a pizza (or perhaps, any dough) at 550F; Do you need more hydration at a higher temperature?

I am hoping someone else has fiddled with this and has from trial and error learned this information.

In a sense I am looking for a hydration "chart" of sorts. I am sure that there is a recommendation for what would be considered near perfect, but I like to know the "what's going on under the hood, what's happening in the engine" kinds of things.

Perhaps a chart is not a good way to express this. I don't know.

55% would result in:

60% would result in:

65% would result in:


75% would result in:

Thanks, in advance for any help.



milwaukeecooking's picture


60-65%=most breads (sandwich loaf, hearth breads, many free standing breads)


75-80%=ciabatta and focaccia


Generally my pizza dough is 65-70% but that is my personal preference.  Under 65% and it is difficult to sheet.  However, if I am making a thin crust pizza I will go down to 50% hydration. 

La masa's picture
La masa

45%=candeal (a traditional Castilian bread)

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost Absolutely, pizza experts(for the amatuer).


wizarddrummer's picture

thanks to every for your answers.

Bwana B's picture
Bwana B

09 Jan 2010


It seems most folks have their own favoriate pizza dough formula. Standard double-batch pizza dough formulas generally call for about 3 cups flour to 1 cup water, plus the obligatory yeast and slat, and perhaps a little suger or honey or some other sweetner, and oil or no oil.


Here's a typical example of a pizza dough based on baker's percentage I learned at a culinary school: water 57%, veg. oil 2.5%, sugar 1.0%, yeast 2.75%, bread flour 100%, Salt 1.75%, and Malt syrup 0.5%.


However, hydration depends on "other" factors too, for example, whether you are making a thin crust, medium crust, cornmeal thick crust deepdish, a pizza for grilling, or a pizza dough for tossing demonstrations, to name a few variarions. 


Some folks like a medium or thick crust pizza to have a texture with little holes throughout, and they usually lean towards hydrations of up to 65 pecent and even up to 70 percent.


Those who like to grill pizza over an open grill adopt an oil based drier dough; so it won't fall through the grill-grate and into the fire or they place a standard pizza dough on a pizza pan during the initial baking period and remove it to place it on the grill's grate surface once the dough stabalizes or they par-bake the pizza dough in an oven, let the dough cool, dress & top it, and then place it on the grill to bake.


After learning how to make various pizza doughs properly, some folks like to experiment and tweak - it a fun way to learn a few things about pizza dough.


There is one important thing to remember:  if the curst isn't good, the pizza isn't good. Another important factor is this: the sauce and topping ingredients should create a harmonous balance of flavors, no one ingredient-flavor should be overwhelming, otherwise the "Taste" will be off.  And, it all about "Taste".  If one of the ingredients is overwhelming it not a good pizza; it's just that simple.


Having said that, I'll tell you a true story.  I have a fishing buddy who likes "lots" (way too much) of mustard on his hotdogs. That's the way he likes them. The mustard overwhelms everything!  Why even put the hotdog on the bun, you can't taste it? His hotdogs have no balance of flavor - no flavor harmony.  All you can taste is the mustard! He likes them that way, and that's fine. I don't like them that way, and that's fine. My fiiend and I have different tastes.  People have different tastes, otherwise we would all like our hotdogs made in exactly the same way. 


You should make pizza the way you like it.  If your tastes in pizza is a little off the norm and your are making pizza for a group of folks, you might want to consider making what is referred to as traditional or somewhat traditional pizza and make it so that the flavors balance in a haromonos manner.  And when I say pizza, it includes the crust, sauce, if any, and topping or combination of toppings.


A few words about toppings: Less is More!  Don't overload a pizza dough with sauce and toppings. And a little, I said a "little", extra virgin olive oil very lightly drizzled over the topping of a traditionally topped  pizza just before eating enhances the flavor - improves the "taste" of the pizza.


Here's another true story: There's a guy who's pizza place is located in a back street location in New York City. There's a small cardboard sign sitting against the front window (near the front door) with his name on it along with "Whole Pizzas To Go"; no pre-orders, no credit, no checks; Mster Card/Visa or cash.  He makes only one kind and one size of pizza.  Sorry no names or addresses will be disclosed, as this is not an advertisement - he doesn't need to advertize.  When he runs out of pizza, he shuts and locks the door for the day.  People line up every day regardless of the weather, sometimes all the way down the street, just to buy his pizza. Does he make good pizza?  I think it's fantastic pizza and, evidently, a lot of other people do too. You won't read about him in the up-scale mags or any mags for that matter, or hear his name mentioned by the TV chefs or food snobs, and nobody has, to my knowledge, ever written an article in the paper or any mag about this guy, and knowing him, I doubt that he'd authorize it anyway as he can be rather grumpy about such things - but he's a good person, a really good person, (I know this because I served with him in the military) and he makes great, not good, but great pizza. 


Happy Pizza Baking.


wizarddrummer's picture

I loved your response.

The mustard story and best of all the back street pizza guy.

You speak my language when you say that with no advertisements, not a bit of fan fare, no hoopla, no signage, no large banners … nothing but people waiting, hoping they are there in time, to buy a pizza from a "grumpy" good guy is what it is all about!

This is what I have been telling my friends for years who believe that these "Let's kick it up a notch … BAM!"  or "Next we add some EVOO and … " are great cooking masters.

These celeb 'chefs" are just that. They are Celebs; and many people who sometimes behave like lemmings jumping off the cliffs idolize these people.

I've tasted some of the products that these people put on shelves and it's no different than any other packaged product.

What I usually say is that good food or excellent food is Universal.

Humans have sensory organs and we respond to the chemical reactions that are put into our mouths and what we smell.

Culture plays a small part in this where the ethnicity will have an impact, but for the most part, an excellent pizza, or fabulous BBQ Beef will resonate with most people. The best BBQ I have in my 58 years was from some guy selling it from the back of a Pick Up truck on Highway 45 North of Houston.

The best places I have eaten throughout my travels in the world and the US have been the places that I stumbled  upon by accident off the beaten path away from the "tourist guide" presentations. I used to live outside NYC and I've been to many  places there to eat pizza. I'm saddened that I missed out on that one. I live on the other side of the continent and am not likely to be back east again.

I like to think that my personal "taste" is educated to know when I have made or I am eating something of excellence.

Bwana B's picture
Bwana B

09 Jan 2009


Hey, wizarddrummer:


Thanks for the kind words in your follow-up to my posting.


You are right about good, ney, great food - it's where you find it and when you find it (happen on to it) in the least expected places, well, that's one of life's great pleasures.  

I remember the first time I ate raw snake. They back-street-pizza guy and I and our team of 6 total men had taken Ks  for five days on a scheduled two-day one-night recon. During the 8th day, yes you read it correctly, the 8th day "Paisano"  (the pizzza guy's call sign) and I were hungry; really, realy hungry! We had passed hungry two days ago. The "yards", indigenous mountain tribal men who were also my team members - there were four of these great little guys on our team - well, they had been catching snakes and eating them raw for the past two days. Paisano and I, up to that time, had decline all offered raw snake.

It was hot; I mean hot!  It gets so hot in Nam the chickens lay boiled eggs. Well, Tri Dao, the number three had just caught and killed another snake. After skinning it and slicing the thing up, he said to me in a low voice, "Number one - dis good, you eat." as he poked it towards my face. I thought to myself, if I'm gonna die in this hell-hole, it ain't gonna be on an empty stomach. I opened my yapper and he stuck the piece of dead, raw snake in. I was sitting in Nam making evey kind of deal with God I could think of to deliever my team from the hell we had wandered into, eating raw snake. 

God blessed us that day with raw snake, a flight of fast movers dopping various kinds of ordinance while a very brave chopper pilot brough his chopper through a hail of small arrms fire and a couple of missed PPGs to get to us and he managed, only by the grace of God, some fancy flying, and a lot of luck, to extract my team and transport us to the relative safety - stretch of the immagination - of a forward fire base. After the adrenalin pump deminished and I had consumed a about a quart of water, the debiefer walked over to me and says;  "Well, Bwana (my call sign), give me the poop." I can remember my response to this day; "Other than what you already know, I learned that raw snake tastes pretty damn good when you're hungry, and there is a God."

You keep on making those pizzas wizarddrummer, and have fun doing it.



wizarddrummer's picture

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

You are a survivor and I'll bet that there was more than one time that you wished you were eating some pizza with friends during those dreadful days.

Yes there is a God, and for whatever reason He has, we have to pass through this what I call "Fraternity Pledging" on our way to the Frat house in the sky.

For some people the hazing is severe and for others it is a minor speed bump.

I can't say that I understand any of it, it makes no sense to me why things happen the way they happen.

I've lived a very hard life, my hardships are not military service related, but it's been a real pain in the ass so to speak.

Glad you made it so you could tell me the story!