The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Proper Hydration

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Alnair's picture
Alnair

Proper Hydration

I currently have a rye sourdough starter and a regular Pain au Levain going, just a couple days in for both of them. I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not they are too dry or not. I actually added about a teaspoon of water to my Pain au Levain because it was very dry and crumbly and I thought that was too dry, I hope that wasn't a mistake. My rye sourdough also looks dry, but it is at least in a stiff doughlike structure, though I'm reading that perhaps it shouldn't be so doughlike? I'm not entirely sure. I took pictures of each but can't figure out how to upload both onto here. Any help would be great! Thanks.

 

 

-Calder

phaz's picture
phaz

 New starters are usually 100% hydration, at least that's where most start out at. at a couple days in, you probably want to thin it out a bit. more like a thick pancake batter at this stage. once it gets going and rising regularly thicken it up if you want to go longer between feedings. I believe the thinner the starter the more food can become available to the buggers. that's what you would want at this point. dry enough to crumble is way way too thick. water, and enough of it, is important. good luck, and happy baking!

Alnair's picture
Alnair

Thanks for the reply. My starter started off at about 78% hydration, and I added a little more water, maybe up to about 80-83% hydration. It is no longer crumbly, but is not quite liquidy. I read that a stiff dough levain usually stars at about 60% hydration, while the liquid levain started at about 100%. Is that not correct?

phaz's picture
phaz

that's about right from what I've read. I don't weigh things out, I go by feel. but when just starting a starter, thinner is generally better. too thick and the process slows down. for the dough, higher hydration makes for a more open crumb. not enough water will make a denser bread. hope that helps!

Alnair's picture
Alnair

Very helpful ! Thank you.

phaz's picture
phaz

sorry if I wasn't too specific, but there's enough variation depending on type, brand, and even batch, of flour used, along with temperature and humidity levels, that I end up going be feel. higher hydration, like 70% or more, and I find the dough gets tougher to work. too sticky. I'm also not a real big fan of huge holes. they look great, but things fall through those holes too much for my liking. of course, experimenting is part of the fun, and I'm sure you will doing a bit of that as you head down this road. happy baking!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

keeping 80 g of mature 100% whole grain multigrain starter (rye, ww and spelt) in the fridge at 66% hydration.  A white SD bread I usually shoot for 72% hydration and if it needs a little more water I put it in.   If I mill my own wheat, and soft out 22% I would be at 78% hydration maybe more in the summer.  Fresh milled grains, even at 78% extraction are very thirsty