The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hydration content considering other ingredients?

cmulder's picture

Hydration content considering other ingredients?

I understand that hydration percentage is important and it varies with type of bread. But how do you calculate it considering other ingredients. For example, For example I have a recipe that requires flour, oats, wheat germ, gluten, maple syrup, oil, cinnamon, buttermilk plus salt and yeast. I want to cut the recipe in half or to one-third. I know you can't just mathematically cut everything. So how do you calculate hydration levels considering other ingredients.

cranbo's picture

Assuming your issue is scaling, If you weigh out all of the ingredients called for in the volumetric measures, you should be able to scale the weights down (or up) efficiently as desired. Doesn't really have anything to do with hydration levels. 

Regarding hydration levels: certain ingredients donate/contain water (buttermilk, maple syrup) and some ingredients soak up extra water (oats, wheat germ). There's really no simple way to calculate that; search the TFL forums and you'll find some info about how much water certain ingredients possess. 

In any case, the first procedure will let you build a true baking formula which you can scale as desired. 


Ford's picture

Hello cmulder,

Different doughs require different hydrations.  As cranbo said, above. some ingredients contain water and some soak up water.  You might make a white bread with 77% hydration, but a 100% whole wheat bread may require 84% hydration, because the bran in the whole wheat soaks up moisture.


Chuck's picture
Chuck can't just mathematically cut everything...

Huh? Who says? Why? As far as I know, what doesn't double or halve is the procedure items (the rising times, the oven temperature, the baking time, etc.), not the ingredients.

I double and halve bread recipes by doubling or halving all the ingredients all the time. One big problem is eggs (1/3 of an egg?); that's why I now pour from a carton of whipped eggs.The other big problem is very small volume measurements (1/3 of a teaspoon?); that's why I now use "grams" for everything (thank goodness for my cheap pocket digital scale with it's tenth of a gram resolution).

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


When you try to scale cakes or pankakes that use baking powder you might run into trouble: When the baking powder gets wet it starts producing CO2 until it is used up. If your mix or handling takes too long you might end up with something you didn't inted.

Example: the delicious pancake recipe in Crust&Crumb. Peter Reinhart doesn't give bakers% because he discourages from scaling up the pancake batter.

If you want more pancakes you better mix a new batch when you are ready to fry them.

With bread I second Chuck.

If you go to small batch sizes it gets more difficult to mix and knead them. And large batch sizes tend to ferment better / faster because there is less heat loss (smaller surface to volume ratio)


Chuck's picture

#1) how do you calculate hydration levels considering other ingredient

Include the water each of the other ingredients adds. For an over-simple example, assume the following fake recipe:

100 grams all purpose flour
25 grams water
60 grams egg (eggs are 75% water, 25% solids)

The total amount of water is:  25 + (60 * 75%) = 25 + 45 = 70 grams water total

The hydration is then:  70 grams total water / 100 grams flour = 70%


(As an exercise we'll scale up this fake recipe to double:
200 grams all purpose flour
50 grams water
120 grams egg

The total amount of water is now: 50 + (120 * 75%) = 50 + 90 = 140 grams water total

The hydration is now: 140 grams total water / 200 grams flour = 70% exactly the same - scaling a recipe doesn't affect its hydration)


#2) Exactly how much water is in various ingredients (for example how was it determined that "egg" is 75% water and 25% solids)?

The most complete list of ingredients and the amount of water in each I know of is on the "lookup" worksheet/page of the "DoughCalc" spreadsheet. That spreadsheet, the availability of which was posted here several years back, is still available for download at