The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Where does oil,honey and sugar fit in hydration formulas?

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Where does oil,honey and sugar fit in hydration formulas?

I am starting to re-write my recipes in a formula format and include baker's percentage. I'm just not sure where oil,honey and sugar fall in the scheme of things. Liquid?

Is baker's percentage used for things like cookies or cakes?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and oil are zero for water content and hydration. Honey is 50% water so half the weight goes to hydration.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Dabrownman, most often a source of good information, and especially inspiration, in this case is mistaken. Mature honey contains approximately 20% water. (Canada regulates beekeepers that sell their product to 17.8% water.).  The USDA has developed a grading system, but participation is only voluntary. Nevertheless, non-participating bee keepers can (and do)  label their products using the USDA guidelines, based on their best judgement (or lying). Caveat emptor! The good news: the greater the water content, the more readily honey will spontaneously ferment, yielding alcohol or acetic acid, i.e., bad tasting honey.

Here's a couple of references for the interested, or skeptical.

www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3011895

http://www.honeytraveler.com/types-of-honey/grading-honey/

You didn't mention eggs. One source ( http://wholefoodcatalog.info/nutrient/water/eggs/ ) estimates egg white is 88% water, and whole egg 65% water.

David G

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

started writing down my recipes in B% I went to a baking website and copied down the hydration of the ingredients that I thought I might use one day and plugged them into my master spreadsheet.  I wonder how many others were wrong - like eggs is also different than yours too.  They had USA butter at 20%, whole eggs at 75%, honey at 50%, molasses and barley malt syrup at 50%.   It makes complete sense to me that honey would be at 20% though since the lower the water the better the keeping qualities and honey never spoils.  Thanks

baybakin's picture
baybakin

I've always read butter at about 17% moisture but it varies widly with manufacturer, with the sizes of batches we do, 20% is a pretty good estimate for US style butter (euro-style butter I do 15% rounded down).  Molasses and barley malt syrup I would count the same as honey.  Eggs I should check on my baking institute book when I get home.

moodswt's picture
moodswt

In Southern Arizona, the Mesquite honey has a high sugar content and very low water content. Many years ago, the USDA refused to certify the area beekeepers' honey and accused them of lying and/or adding sugar to adulterate the honey! After years of using unheated, readily-crystallized Mesquite honey in baking, I can tell you it is the easiest to substitute for sugar. The runny stuff definitely needs hydration adjustment. 

Christina

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

and nice to read about this matter. Actually i wanted to know how would i calculate liquids other than water in the recipe, for instance milk. It goes itno B% added to hydration and so do oils, right?!!!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

the same as water. It isn't literally the same, of course, but for the recipe sizes that most of us deal with at home we can consider it to be equivalent to water with no problems.

Oils are never included in hydration calculations. Although they are a liquid, they do not contribute any water.

Paul

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

just like sugar does. Yet, if you need long enough the dough will return to a firm state. I used to subtract oil and sugar from the water content, but now I don't do it anymore.

In any case oils can  be embedded only to a certain amount in the dough. Passing a given percentage (in my case even 20% is an hazard) the dough is very likely to release them.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The OP's question was whether oils should be included in the hydration calculations.  Since oil does not contain water, the answer is "no".

But, as you point out, oil (and other fats), along with sugars, do affect dough texture.  Wouldn't it be nice if there were a metric of some sort that would predict dough behavior based on fat or sugar content, much like we have now with hydration for water content?

Paul

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

So in general we can include only water and milk in calculation of dough hydration, but apart from those everything remains un accounted for?!! Even if there's fat that can melt and release liquid in the dough say for instance butter?!!

Mike

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

In many doughs, the quantity of water-bearing ingredients (syrups, butter, fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.) is small enough that there is negligible effect on dough hydration.  In others (e.g., pan d'oro or brioche or similar), the butter and eggs contribute a significant portion of the water in the dough.

If you want to be both precise and accurate, account for all of the water contributed by all of the sources in the dough.  That will give you the most control over the final outcome for your bread.  If I'm trying to develop a formula, or understand one I've read, this is exactly what I do.

But, if you are only adding a few tablespoons of butter to a 4-loaf batch of bread, the water contributed by the butter is not going to tip your dough from too dry to too wet.  An undrained soaker, on the other hand, might make an already high hydration dough positively soupy.  It's a matter of scale.

You may be starting to see that this is one of those baking topics that is described better with guidelines than with rules.  And, as you experiment, you will develop a working knowledge of which ingredients have greater effects and in what quantities, versus those which have smaller effects. 

Note that we haven't even touched the topic of ingredients that draw moisture out of the dough.

Paul

clazar123's picture
clazar123

So oil does not contibute water but can give some increased liquid/flow characterisitcs to the dough/batter. Since it does NOT contribute water, it is NOT included in hydration calculations.

Hydration in baker's percentage is water and water-based ingredients (like milk or juice)

For the most part, ingredients that have a small percentage of water (butter) are NOT calculated in hydration unless it is a very closely calculated formula of a recipe.

I am still unclear on a few things:

Are liquid sweeteners like honey,corn syrup,molasses,agave (did I leave anything out?),liquid cane syrup,etc counted as part of the hydration in a baker's percentage formula?

Does sugar affect the hydration calculation? I know it affects the hydration of the dough but is it somehow calculated into the hydration percentage?

Nicodvb-interesting comment on percentage of oil being released from a dough if it is over 20%. Is that "over 20%" calculated as a percentage of the flour?  I have been working with oil-based cookie doughs and encountering that phenomena. Are there ideal percentages for cookie dough for oil/flour/sugar/salt/water?

 

 

baybakin's picture
baybakin

Depending on the writer of the formula, it is either included  in the hydration, or not.  In the scale that we use them in (for most breads) the moisture content of sugar syrups (malt, honey, etc) and butter do not impact the percentage enough to be counted. Some people count eggs, some don't.

Example: Basic Sweet dough (Bertinet).
510g Flour
276g Milk
56g Butter
100g (2) Eggs
37g Sugar
10g Salt

Hydration: (eggs counted as 75%, butter 20%)
54%    no eggs/butter counted
68%    eggs counted, not butter
71%    eggs/butter counted (closer to 70 if using european style butter)

I always count eggs for this reason, but the difference between a 68% hydrated dough and 71% is nearly non-existant in my opinion, so unless I'm doing a brioche, I will not count butter's moisture as part of my overall hydration.  This said, hydration % is really only a tool for you to understand how a dough will feel. I usually do a quick calculation before trying a new recipe just to make sure that it seems reasonable, but beyond that, I don't see much need unless creating recipes from the ground up.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

baybakin's response gave a good numeric comparison of hydrations if the water content in various ingredients are not counted, or are counted.  While bb's example showed the effects of including the water content of the eggs and butter in a formula, the same principle applies to other water-bearing ingredients like the liquid sweeteners you mention.  From an analytic standpoint, it's always good to know just how much water (from whatever source) is going into a dough.  From a consequential standpoint, the contribution of many ingredients is so small as to be meaningless, as bb's numbers so eloquently show.  

Solid sugars do not affect hydration.  Sugars in solution, like those you list, do affect hydration.  All sugars have some effect on a dough's structure, since the sugars approach or pass their melting points at baking temperatures.  Sugars are also hygroscopic, meaning that they tend to pull moisture from their surroundings.  In one sense, sugars could lower dough hydration by pulling moisture away from the starch molecules.  In another sense, sugar at the dough's surface could increase dough hydration by absorbing moisture from the air.  I've no idea as to how much effect one would observe but am reasonably certain that the results would be more pronounced at higher sugar contents than at lower sugar contents.  I'll leave it to someone who is better versed in chemistry and rheology to explain what might happen and why.

Paul

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Unfortunately the variables are so many that it's not possible to generalize how much water will be absorbed with given percentages of sugar/oil/fats. Too many factors depend on the absorbence of the flour used.