The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

84% hydration dough is TOO DENSE?

sadkitchenkid's picture

84% hydration dough is TOO DENSE?

Hi guys I'm making some bread for a friend the ingredients are: 

300grams whole wheat

300grams bread flour

60grams starter

500grams water

7grams salt

60grams chopped dried apricots (soaked and dried)

110grams pistachio 


I've been working on this loaf all night because I need it to be done by tomorrow to gift. I let the flour and water autolyse for two hours, added my starter (which was only semi activated), did slap and folds till the sticky dough came together a bit, let rest for an hour before proceeding with stretch and folds. After the first fold the dough felt like a 70% hydration loaf that I make? with every stretch and fold, it would form into a tighter ball and during the 45 minutes to 60 minutes between S&F, its shape wouldn't change or relax. i added the pistachios and apricots at the second fold and it tightened up even more. After four hours of this, I transferred it to the counter to shape, but it was already so tightly formed that there wasn't any give for it to be shaped properly (And I am gentle with S&F to make sure I don't deflats the dough). Also throughout this process the dough wasn't getting any puffier or airier just denser and stronger? I know that using starter that is only half proofed isn't good but I used that same starter on another dough while I worked on this one, and that dough is now foaming from all the bubbles. 

What could have happened here? How could a 84% hydration dough get so stiff? This has never happened to me before. 

drogon's picture

Sounds like you might have accidentally mis-measured the water?

Put a bowl on your scales and zero it, put the dough into the bowl and expect about 1340g. If it's way under add more water...


sadkitchenkid's picture

I weighed it just now it was 1342g. I also weigh all my ingredients separately. Another thing is when I was mixing the flour and water for autolyse, the dough was very soft and sticky, the weir behavior started during the bulk ferment. I think I might have overworked the dough during the slap and fold process in my attempt to pull it together? I dont know it's pretty bizarre! thank you for the response Gordon! 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Dried?   They might have sucked up some of the moisture...

Still have a few nuts left?  Weigh some and pour some water on them, wait an hour or so, drain well and weigh again.  Any differences?

Check this out... DB made a pistachio bread and went up to 88% hydration: