The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dry weight / Liquid weight in a recipe

bobkay1022's picture

Dry weight / Liquid weight in a recipe

I have a question. I have been making SD starter for some time and it was always ???? ok.

My last 4-5 attemts have gone in the garbage.

The basic formula I have is 1/4 cup of water  3/8 cup of flour. Thats what I have used in the past in cup measurement only.

Now if the recipe calls for  water  4 oz.  Flour 3/8  cup.  Water NP 3 oz.  3/8 cup of flour at 8 oz per cup seems like wrong formula if I am supposed to use dry measurment at 4.5 oz per cup.

If I was to use the 4.5 oz per cup for flour and it calls for 3/8 cup should that not be about 1.69 oz dry weight instead of 3 oz liquid?

Seems like that would be a very wet mixture at 1.68 oz flour and 3 oz. water.

So what weight is supposed to be used in most recipes? Thats my big question.

Liquid for liquid and dry weight for flour. I have a print out of all the various measurements and most flour I use is about 4.5 oz dry or Should I always do the math on the package per comapany specs per dry cup.

  Big difference in volume for flour weight liquid versas dry per cup of flour.

Have I Just been lucky that my starter has doubled each time I discarded and then added 1/4 cW+3/8c flour at 8 0z per cup. .Still very stiff starter and so hard to work with.

 Hope this was not to confusing. I seem to be brain dead lately.  





amolitor's picture

The number I have in my mind for flour weight is 5.5oz per cup. This is, obviously, very rough. Anyways, with 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour makes sense as 2 ounces each, with a 5.5 ounce cup of flour.

Many of the starter recipes I've run across seem to call for refreshing with equal weights water and flour, for 100% hydration. This is why I think that ratio seems about right..

That said, there are starter recipes from 60% hydration to 100%, and probably wetter -- I just haven't specifically noted anything wetter.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Now if the recipe calls for  water  4 oz.  Flour 3/8  cup

I would pitch the recipe into the garbage.  First of all any self-respecting recipe will not mix weight and cups.

Don't get hung up in measure, just mix water with flour and it should be runny enough to flow but thick enough to make stirring interesting.  Cover with plastic wrap and a rubber band, give it plenty of head room and let it sit.  Important is to reduce the starter amount before feeding it and always give more flour than the amount of starter (by weight).  It doesn't need to be stiff, give it some water until you like the consistancy.

:)   Mini


bobkay1022's picture

Hi mini

Thank you also for such a quick reply. I do ot know what happened.  I just thought measurements were wrong even though the one I had been using called for 1/4 cup of water and 4/8 cup of flour.

In tha past it had worked and I thought I must have been lucky if my measurements were wrong. 

The SD info I have comes froma very reputable sd baker with a large web site and very active.  I just felt embarrased to ask such a simple question when every thing had worked prior.

Will see how the new starter is doing.  I had boiled this water thinking I had a water problem.

Thanks for the kind reply



Nickisafoodie's picture

Scales are a must.  In the interim, try this:

AP flours weighs about 135 grams a cup - but it varies with manufacturer and time of year, and type of grind, thus the need for a scale.  That said, 3/8 cup would weigh about 50 grams. 

A quarter cup of water weighs 59 grams.  That would give a hydration ratio of 118%, a bit too wet but still workable.  If you want 100% increase your 3/8 cup of flour to a heaping level, two tbs more of flour.  That should put you close enough as you do not have to obsess.


As Andrew said above, starters can vary from 60% to 100% and even higher.  Also try using rye or whole wheat flour.  Both ferment better than white flour and a tiny bit from the starter of either one of these can only add a positive nuance to any pure white flour recipe.


clazar123's picture

I've been in several discussions about the fluid ounce and weight ounce measures seen in the same recipe and I have questioned what the author meant. If s/he is weighing his/her flour, does that mean the ounces for other ingredients are all weight measures? Some people said "Of course not-the liquids are liquid ounces".Others said "Of course ALL ingredients are weighed". Just depends on what you are used to. One discussion got quite hot. No way is better than the other as long as it provides some consistency for the user and the measuring method is clearly communicated to others when sharing.

As a result, I view most of the recipes I try as guidelines and not formulas. As Nickisafoodie mentioned, even the weight of AP flour can vary. I have measured AP flour at different times and obtained anywhere from 140-160g.That is quite a range. Minioven says it best- "Don't get hung up on measure.....give it some water until you like the consistency". There are very few recipes in a home kitchen where measures are that critical. It's when you have to scale recipes up (for commercial use) that minor differences can become critical.

BakerBen's picture

Hi Mr. Bob,

I just had one more question for you if you don't mind.  You say in your original post that

I have a question. I have been making SD starter for some time and it was always ???? ok.

Are you using a "new" recipe for the last 4-5 times that have resulted in "garbage can" loaves?  Really, what I am asking is what has changed in your baking procedure that is different from all the prior times that you had success?

Look forward to hearing from you soon.



bobkay1022's picture

Hi Ben

I just read a couple post and yours ?

I guess I have to play it by ear not exact measurements and let it sit . I had tried 4-5 times now to get a fresh starter going as I am on the road.  Left my starter back at my home area.

I was trying to get a starter going with the 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flout but with no luck.

Got fresh flour. changed water suppy and filters. It just would not do any thing.

I boiled some water yesterday. Did above formula and it seems I have a starter that wants to work.  I never thought of just adding water to get a consistancy that was not super think.

Any way will play it bu ear now for a few days with what looks like might be a workable starter if it continues like it is.

Maybe I am hung up on using my scale for exact measurements also.  I also had questioned the liquid compared to dry weight of flour

clazar123 kind of answered that question for me.

Thanks for the nice reply




BakerBen's picture

Mr. Bob,

Good luck and keep us posted on the progress.


dlstanf2's picture

I used your formula in the beginning of my starter. It works out to about 125% hydration level. I've found that during warmer weather, and not using your starter everyday, this level of hydration is detrimental to maintaining your starter, especially on the counter-top.

Now, I use 100% Hydration during the cooler months and switch to 75% hydration during the warmer months and it works well.

If you use 1/8 Cup (2Tbls) to 1/3 Cup Flour your hydration level will be 67%. Use my charts below to adjust your starter as needed.

I've worked out a couple of calculation sheets that might help. You're free to use these.

EDIT: Jpegs of Charts not posting correctly.

bobkay1022's picture

Thansk for the nice reply and also the chart. Will go by that and see how it works out. I might also have a water problem . On the raod and I never know what the source is .


dlstanf2's picture

Most often most water is clean, meaning free of most bacterial agents. The spoiler for yeast cell production is the chlorine used to kill the microbes as it will kill the yeast cells, particularly in a young starter.

A good way to obtain non-chlorinated water, (if your are conscious about your use of throw away plastic bottles), is use hot water and allow that water to cool in a pitcher; just keep a picture of water on your counter, with the top on loosely. A good charcoal filter attached to your sink faucet is another way to remove chlorine.

Another measure is 3 Tbls Flour to 2 Tbls Water gives your about the right amount for a 100% Hydration starter.

For your recipes, use about 3 Tbls starter and equal weights water and flour to give the amount of starter needed. Once your starter has matured enough for use, hold the 3 Tbls out for continuing your starter.

bobkay1022's picture

Hi Guy   Thanks for some very useful information I can see in my travels how this all might have gone sour is water. I used to make a starter every time I wanted new stock with out any problems. It used to grow faster than I could keep an eye on it.

 Thanks again for the nice reply



Nickisafoodie's picture

In addition to the above comments by all, don't forget one very basic thing: pure water.

Fort best results use bottled water.  Or tap only if filtered. 

Most bottled water is actually municipal water that goes thru a filtration proceess that removes impurities and may have minerals added for flavor.  This is good pure water even if technically it is not spring water.  Those few brands that are sourced at springs work just as well too. 

Stay away from unfiltered tap water.  Pure water, good flour and a glass, stainless or lexan container should give fast results.  Avoid crocks or any time of glazed container that may have micro cracks that can harbor bacteria.

bobkay1022's picture

Hi N

I wonder if a Brita filter would be ok . It is great for drinking I have never tried it and wonder what you opinion is. I use a charcoal and a good filter in a pair of filters in my coach. I have been using in the past water from the tap as it is filtered as I mentioned above and had great luck. Maybe I better give my tank a shot of bleach.

Thanks again for a nice reply and information Nick,

Mr. Bob