The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Water pH and strength of gluten

Muskie's picture

Water pH and strength of gluten

My water is from my well. While I have a softener, I don't use it, my water isn't hard or soft.

But every attempt at 100% hydration doughs have left them too sticky to stretch and fold. I've tried a few different types, rise at 72F, 92F, 36F...all result in dough balls I cannot work (unless I add more dough). Is it the softeness of my water?

BobS's picture

Not starter hydration?

If so, that's really really wet. At the high end of ciabatta land. Not surprised it's hard handle.

A long time in a mixer might develop enough gluten so that you could cut off a piece and slide it into the over. But not much more 'shaping' than that I think.


Muskie's picture

keep the hydration at 100%. So yes, I start with a starter of 100%, build a levain at 100%, and then add to it 100% hydration additions.

Have I missed something? My ciabattas have turned out great, as have many loaves I've made, but as I said, I have to add flour to get the dough manageable.

WoodenSpoon's picture

Adding flour makes your hydration no longer 100%.. I'm fairly certain the high hydration may be the root of your problems.

clazar123's picture

It would be very helpful if you could give a sample recipe that includes the type of flour and a description of your method. Pictures would be lovely but that isn't always possible.

Muskie's picture

Start (16g, 100% hydration), fed 3 feeds till the levain was 192 grams (still 100% hydration). Then I split it into two (and some reserved, so I ended up with 80g of levain.) Then add to it 150g flour, 10g milled flaxseed, and 160g water (so still 100% hydration).

That kept the hydration at 100%, put the levain to 25%, and let me carry on.

Do you need more details?

dabrownman's picture

is too wet.  My 100% while grain rye is 100% hydration and that is in a pan same for the 100% whole wheat.

Like Mini says - if it's over 80% hydration it belongs in a pan or call it ciabatta:-) This recipe  is a very, very  high hydration ciabatta as Bob said!  White bread at 75 - 78% hydration is tough enough to develop and shape for anyone.   now it makes sense.

I think we found your problem -Happy Baking

sandydog's picture

Hi Muskie,

If you can tell us who supplied the recipe with 100% hydration, there is a chance that some of us will recognise/have baked it and will be able to give you meaningful comment and help (Instead of guessing and making assumptions)


clazar123's picture

Having the recipe was helpful. My question is-what do you want to loaf to be? If you want a ciabotta then you are on the right track. If you want a shapely , self supporting boule or batard, then you need to reduce the hydration. Recipes are actually guidelines, in my book.  Given YOUR ingredients, make them perform how you want them to. My recipe and my ingredients-no matter how carefully measured, may not work the same for you in your kitchen. I have seen it time and again. That is where the bakers knowledge comes in.

Making your flour well hydrated is not simply a matter of adding more liquid. It is a matter of allowing the flour to soak up the liquid so each granule of flour is wet and can release the starches and glutens contained so they can do their magic. And, of course, not having any extra liquid to deal with.

If you are looking for large holes and creamy crumb, hydration is important but the techniques used are just as important.Try something a bit different with your dough and see if you can get where you want it to be.

Muskie's picture

Never set out to make a 100% hydration dough, just 100% hydration levain. My bad.

Thanks for pointing it out folks.