Can someone guide me to some instruction about hydration? Never heard of it before.
Defined as the weight of water in the recipe divided by the weight of the flour. So, if there's 100 lbs of flour and 65 lbs of water in a dough, 65/100 = .65 = 65%. The "hydration" of this dough would be 65%.
The only way that ever gets a little complicated is if there's more than one source of water in your dough. So milk (about 85-88% water), eggs (around 75% water), honey (maybe 20% water) and other wet ingredients can make it difficult to determine a true hydration level.
-- Dan DiMuzio
To add a bit to what Dan said (love your book, Dan) -- and maybe you don't need this, Vonilda -- you may see terms on TFL like high hydration or low hydration. There's no defined point where that breaks (as far as I know!), but as general terms they are descriptive. High hydration doughs -- those with a high percentage of water in relation to flour -- will result in very different loaves when compared with loaves with low hydration. For instance, if you're making a French baguette you're aiming at a much higher hydration level than if you are making bagels.
Also generally speaking, doughs with different hydrations will require different techniques in the making.
Thanks for the addition, and for the compliment.
The "breaking point," in my experience, is any dough that has you praying the phone doesn't ring while you have your hands in it ;-)