The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Figuring Totat % Hydration

BetsyMePoocho's picture

Figuring Totat % Hydration

Hey Folks,

Been working on my French Baguettes and Sour Dough for a very long time.  I have, through a process of slight additions of water to each batch, been able to nail down good hydration level with consistent results.

But I really do not know what percent of hydration I have wound up with...... So, my question to all you learned folks is:

How to figure total % hydration when using a receipt that incorporates a Poolish or Sour Dough culture???


My Poolish is made up from equal parts flour and water with 1/8t yeast. 

My Sour Dough Starter was originally made using a culture, 1c flour, and 1/2c water.  It is refreshed for using in dough with 1c starter, 1c flour, and 1/2 to 2/3 water.  Then 1c of the refreshed starter is used in my receipt.

It is easy to figure hydration in a normal receipt, simple math.  I'm just lost with factoring the starters in and my wife says that I might be a little slow.....

Thanks for any comments.....


Baking Bread is like Golf..... Always trying for the perfect shot......

DavidEF's picture

First, you need to measure using weights, not cups, if you really want to know your hydration level. Buy a kitchen scale and weigh out your cups, to see what they are currently. Then proceed. A cup of water weighs nearly double a cup of flour. And a cup of flour can actually vary in weight depending on how it is scooped and what flour is being used. If you use the weight given by the nutrition info on the flour, it usually turns out to be around 120 grams/cup. Water weighs around 236.6 grams/cup. Therefore, one cup of each would be 236.6/120 or just over 197% hydration.

What I do to figure total hydration for my dough is translate everything back to its flour and water equivalent, and add it all up, then divide. As an example, if you had 200g water, 400g flour, and 150g poolish at 200% hydration, I would divide the poolish into 100g water and 50g flour, add those values to the others, then divide 300/450 for a total of about 67% hydration.

dabrownman's picture

Saveur 's Web site said their cup measure weighed 127.5 g per cup using the stir with a spoon first, then scoop and scrape method for AP flour.  Some TFL members did a test to see if this was true and I came up with around 118 g every time for AP and a little more for whole grains - 132-139 depending on what whole grain was used.  Others were similar.118 - 122 g for white AP.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

What a cup of flour weighs depends not only on what type of flour is being used, but also on who is doing the scooping. It even varies from one cup to the next when the same person is doing the measuring. That's why you should always weigh and just skip the volume measures, at least for the things that you are using more than a T or so of.

If Saveur says their "cup" of flour weighs 127.5g, then that's the weight you should use when translating their recipes.  If they say a cup "weighs" 127.5g, most likely what they did (if they're doing anything remotely logical) was weigh their flour and then convert to cups since that's what most people expect to see - and the factor they used to do that was 127.5g per cup, for whatever reason.

Frankly I've not been satisified with any of their recipes I've ever tried, especially for cakes - even the pictures look pretty bad, showing significant tunneling and other problems.  So my surmise - that they weigh and then convert - assuming they are using good baking practices - may be wrong.  But that's where I'd start if I were going to bother with a Saveur recipe.

BetsyMePoocho's picture

Thanks all of you for the input.  

I apologize for not stating that I do use a scale for all my ingredients and like to keep all in grams.  I just was looking for the math for figuring total percent hydration when there is a poolish involved.  I used "cups" as a quick and dirty method to ask.  My bad.

Anyway, my question was answered above.  That is the way I've been computing the percent, but just needed to hear it from the experts to be sure.

Example:  My French Baguettes (2)

Total Flour in the Poolish & Dough = 771g.  Total Water in the Poolish & Dough 513g.

So my total percent hydration is 513g/771g = 66.5% Hydration.

Thanks again...........




dabrownman's picture

formula to remember if you are making your own recipe is the 1+X = flour and water total weight where x is the Hydration percent you want and 1 (100%)  is the amount of flour.  I use this formula more than any other when coming up with the recipe for bread.

If I want 872 g of dough and 73% hydration for the flour I am using in the dough then  1.73 X= 872 and 872 divided by 1.73 =504 g of flour and 872 - 504 = 368 g of water.  To check 368/504 = .73 or 73%.  This is a natural starting point for any recipe you make.

Danni3ll3's picture

out the amount of flour and water for an 80% levain. I did figure it out but it took me forever. Do I remember what I did? Nope! So your formula is  perfect!

BetsyMePoocho's picture


You are spot on with the neat little formula to use for launching a new receipt.  I stumbled on a variation of it a few years ago.  It is written slightly different, but gives the same results.....

z / (1.y) = x

Where z is total weight of flour and water desired.

Where 1.y is 100% + desired % water.

And resulting x is total weight of the water.

Thanks for the good input.......

Garlicman's picture

Old time thread, but very helpful. If I ever get out your way I promise to weed your gardens for at least 1 hour and maybe more if you're baking that day.

Cheers, Paul