The Fresh Loaf

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70% hydration (I think ) questions

whoops's picture

70% hydration (I think ) questions

Hi All,

I have a few questions I was hoping a few of you experienced baker's might be able to answer for me.

I was playing around with a recipe for sourdough , as I had finally gotten some good results on my sourdough loaves, and felt like experimenting some. I had some results that were somewhat puzzling to me. Here is what I did, with recipe( A variation on Cranbo's beginner's sourdough recipe I found here on this site somewhere), questions regarding results to follow:

225 gm rye flour

225 whole wheat flour (a mixture of high protein unbleached whole wheat and regular whole wheat- I did not realize before I started that I did not have enough of either!)

385 gm water

3 tbsp gluten

110gr  starter (100% hydration)

1 scant tbsp salt (I have found me scale doesn't accurately weigh such small amounts)

I mixed the rye flour with about half of the total water, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I added about half of the remaining water to the starter and dissolved it and mixed the rest of the flour and gluten together .

mixed the rye/water combination  with the rest of the flour, starter, and water until just mixed and let rest 20 minutes. Add the salt, and mixed for about 1 minute on level 2 of the KA mixer.

I then did the french knead thing ( as seen on various youtube videos, slapping it on the counter, etc) for about 8 minutes. The dough was still very wet (this was my intent, as I wanted to see how this looked/felt/worked, etc) then returned the dough to the KA and kneaded with dough hook for 4 minutes . I placed in a well oiled bowl, turned once, and then did 4 s & f 30 minutes apart. I then left it alone in a oiled glass casserole dish with a lid in the oven (the counter gets too breezy when the ac turns on)for about 6 hours.

The dough had almost tripled in size, and had in fact pushed the heavy glass lid off the container. I preheated my oven to 450 and got steam ready. I slashed the bread (which promptly deflated it ) and made a tent with tinfoil and placed it in the oven. After 30 minutes I removed the tinfoil and reduced the temp to 400 and baked for another 25 minutes.

I removed from the oven and  *GASP* the bread was stuck to the pan. I tried loosening by sliding a thin knife around the edges with no luck. I allowed am afraid I poked a hole in the bread, so I went a head and made a slice in the bread to see what it looked like. The crumb actually looked pretty much like what I was trying, for except there were little ribbons of area where it appeared the dough was not completely cooked. After cooling for about 30 minutes, I was able to loosen it more and pry it out of the pan, but the crust came off in the pan. I had a piece of   the bread toasted for breakfast this morning and it made a lovely toast with a nice tang like I had wanted ( I think I will play more with the ratio of rye to ww flour though).

My questions:

1- What is a good ratio of whole grain flour to gluten? The only reference I saw was in volume measurements , which suggested 1 tbsp to one cup. Since I am trying to use weights, I am not quite sure how to translate this.

2- I "calculated" this recipe to be a 70% hydration dough, was this correct? ( 385gr water/550gm flour). Should I have included the weight of the gluten in this total (which would have made it more than 550 gm flour?)

3- Should higher hydration doughs NOT be baked in a pan/dish? I do not have a cloche or dutch oven, so was trying to replicate that effect to a degree. I made sure that the dish was well oiled (as I had forgotten to oil my pans for my regular ww sandwich bread, and it had disastrous effects!), and yet the bread still stuck.

4-Why would there only be thin ribbons of less baked dough through out the bread? Did the fact that I cut into it right out of the oven in my attempt to get it out of the pan have anything to do with that?

5- Should the wetter doughs be slashed? or are only the dryer doughs to be slashed?

A couple of notes on why I did the things I did- My intent was to do the entire kneading with the french knead or slap and fold method. however, as The kids kept getting under foot I was not able to continue to focus on what I was doing so ended up throwing it into the mixer. I did get a good window pane test after that.  I had planned on retarding in the refrigerator for 12 hours or so, but when it had risen so much and with my previous efforts not getting any rise after I had shaped them, I thought I would give baking after the first rise a shot (someone in a previous question I posted suggested that ) I would post pictures, but since I have no URL's, I can't seem to be able to do so. :( I do not use those photo programs, just download them to my pc in my pictures folder. I guess I will have to search here if there are any directions on how to upload photos)

Thanks in advance. I am quite certain there are plenty of you with the knowledge and know how to answer my questions!


EDIT; I think I can add pictures now, lets try:

This shows (barely) the little ribbon of dough that looks less baked.

The top crust and a not so great view of the side crust.You can see the slash marks on the top of the bread.  

The crumbe. I notice now that perhaps the crumb is a bit tighter on the bottom of the bread than the top. Is this normal?  I apologize for the quality of the photos. I did not think to take pictures before I sliced the loaf !

Thanks again for your patience and assistance!



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 Actually the loaf looks better than I had imagined it would from the process and what the dough went thru.   You have me wondering why the rye got soaked and not the WW.   I think the white dough streak is the high gluten flour that wasn't sifted into the flour before getting wet.  High gluten flour tends to clump.

The crumb looks very close to being over-proofed.   Too close.  Breads with a lot of rye tend to leave that thicker denser crumb at the bottom when it has been fermenting too long.  Notice how the bubbles are gradually getting bigger as one looks from the bottom up to the top?  The bottom crust looks rather light and might have used a little more oven time?  That might also be why the dough stuck.  I am more apt to dock a loaf like this than score it.  Scoring is not mandatory and a very wet dough does better without it.  Wet doughs can be in or out of pans.  If the dough has enough integrity, it can stand alone but I think this one would have been a Frisbee without the form.  Good that you didn't keep folding the dough, but I think you could have shortened the final rise by an hour.  A word of caution, retarding this rye dough (or any dough with more % rye) it stiffens at cold refrigerator temps resulting in loss of gas as the rye continues to ferment and escape thru cracks in the surface, fermentation does not slow down like wheat dough, and it will over-proof easily as it will be stiff and look like it isn't rising. If you do retard it, slow it down in a cool room or cellar where the dough will stay supple.  Much easier to judge the rise that way.

Docking is wetting a skewer or toothpick and poking holes into the rising loaf to release large gas bubbles.  It deflates just a little bit but then the holes seal up and dough does just fine in the oven.  It prevents the top crust from "flying off" the loaf, a result of a large air bubble under the top skin of the loaf.  

whoops's picture

Thank you for your response, Mini,

The crust is light because most of it stuck to the pan. The pan is still soaking in trying to get the baked on goo off! The top of the bread looked ok to me, color wise. I did not see a white streak in my loaf, what a saw were one or two darker, wetter looking streaks. If you are referring to a white area at the top of the picture, that was my hand trying to hold the loaf together so I could take the picture! I did make sure to thoroughly mix the dough when I added the salt.

The reason I did not soak the whole wheat flour was because- well, I thought when one did the presoak, it was just PART of the flour and water, not all of it. Probably I misunderstood what I have been reading- as I did not go back and check, just had the thought pop in my head "Oh, lets soak the rye" . I think in my head the terms levan and autolyse still get confusing to me. I had anticipated using the rye with unbleached AP flour, only to find that the bag I THOUGHT I had was not anywhere ot be found, and since I did not gather all my ingredients BEFORE mixing, there I was stuck and used the last bits of other flours I had left.

I think perhaps you are right on the over proofing. The original recipe calls for a long retard in the fridge, but as I said, there was not room, so I placed it in the oven (turned off, of course) and took my granddaughter to our Formal Tea Party, and checked the bread when I got home.

 Thanks for the information about rye doughs- I have been usually retarding in the fridge because I read somewhere that the long, slow proof in the fridge helps bring out that tang from the sour dough that I like. I have not tried a rye bread in  a while since I needed to focus on just getting a good sourdough going. I really need some bread books, but am hesitating to buy any right now, as it is close to my birthday  and I have the books on my wish list (along with bannetons, a cloche or dutch oven, and a few other miscellaneous things. ). It is hard to go through  and search for things when you are in the middle of baking or mixing and cant recall EXACTLY what it was you read (at least, for me it is!)


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you've been soaking the glass dish and it's still not coming off... try this:  thin a discard tablespoon of mature sourdough with water and pour over the stuck on stuff, cover and leave it alone to eat off the bread.

Don't know when I though the dough streaks were white.  I chuckled with you when I saw your hand holding the slices together for the picture.  I can relate!  

Rye is my main bread.  Rye with over 60% rye flour.  I refer to 50% as "the grey zone"  where just about anything can happen.  Will it act more like a wheat or will the dough act more like a rye?  

I think you should try it again only bake sooner and grease the bowl with butter, my favorite smear for rye and even go so far as to dust the buttered bowl with some rye flour or grated nuts or bread crumbs.  They roast in the butter while the bread is baking... yummy!

I don't know what kind of computer you have but I highlight (click and drag the mouse) a recipe and then copy it so I can go back to read it anytime.  I have sometimes had TFL open on two tabs, one with a recipe while the other was looking around.  If you find something on TFL that you want to get back to, click on the "add to favorites" at the bottom of the title post (little red letters) at it will appear listed on your "My account" under your name.  Click on "My account" and the post will show up.   Click on the post and you got your info again.  

whoops's picture

Hi Mini,

The dough came off easily enough after soaking. And some scraping gently with a spoon so that the dishsponge did not get infested with rye bread.

I will definitely try it again, as the taste and the crumb were actually pretty close to what I was looking for. Now that I have been shown that my bread was actually closer to 80% hydration ( clearly I have forgotten basic addition principles) perhaps if I manage to get the hydration closer to what I THOUGHT I was getting, and do not get interupted, it might turn out well. 

I can not wait to toast it and spread butter on it, and cut up some of the good German pickles I have found at my local Whole Foods Market that transport me back to my childhood, and gobble it all up together!

I have copied , and even printed recipes, I just never think to do that with questions regarding processes, or levains, or hints and tricks. I always manage to convince myself that I will recall the information instantly, when I need it. Well, we all knwo how THAT works for me! Nice to know about the add to favorites thing, I did not realize that was something we could do here!

Thanks again for all your input! 


All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

Sandy ...

In answer to your question no. 2:

I "calculated" this recipe to be a 70% hydration dough, was this correct? ( 385gr water/550gm flour). Should I have included the weight of the gluten in this total (which would have made it more than 550 gm flour?)

Unless I'm overlooking something - and like you, I'm ignoring your additional gluten - your flour quantity for this recipe was only 225 grams of rye + 225 grams of whole wheat. That is a total of only 450 grams. So your calculation should be 385 grams of water : 450 grams flour. That gives a percentage of 85.5% - not 70% Rye and wholewheat are thirsty devils, so no problem giving them a shedload to drink, but if you're really looking for a 70% hydration, you'd need to scale back to 315 grams of water.

I think in my head the terms levan and autolyse still get confusing to me.

Think of it this way, Sandy: A levain is a thing - It's the French word for the starter culture you use to raise bread. "Levened" bread is bread that rises - as opposed to flatbreads. Think Levitation - that's what a levain will do for your bread - levitate it. Raise it.

But autolyse is a process. It's the name given to the period following the initial mixing of flour with water, when they are left alone by the baker to snuggle up and get intimately acquainted. A union that very soon results in the joyous birth of a bouncing gluten baby.  So when the baker returns, his dough of flour and water is no longer a shaggy, sticky, gloopy porridge mess, but a sleeker, smoother, more cohesive mass.  Then the baker can step in as guardian to the gluten baby, and with the aid of SFs, Richard Bertinet slam-dunking, whatever - help it reach adulthood ... before ultimately, lovingly, tenderly ... incinerating it!

All at Sea

whoops's picture

All At Sea,

Ok, can you say- now I feel REALLY silly? Even as I typed that post, I did not get that I had added incorrectly. As soon as you pointed it out, well, duh! Perhaps that was part of the problem. LOL.

Thanks for your explanation of the difference between levain and autolyse, hopefully that will stick in my head more!