Hydration feel problems
This post references the following video:
Hamelman (the master King Arthur baker in the video) says something to the effect of, "The dough feels a little dry, so I am going to add some water."
As I start to play around with different hydration levels, I realize that too dry and too wet are kind of nebulous concepts. I mean... Is it too dry? or is it just a low hydration recipe?
I realize the baker is trying to make the same loaf he makes everyday and that humidity, temperature, flour characteristics mean that even when everything is measured properly you might need a little more or less water to achieve the same hydration dough.
But, this poses an annoying problem for the home baker... if we make a recipe with a certain hydration level, how are we supposed to know if it is too dry or too wet. We can't.
When someone on this forum writes, "The dough felt a little dry so I added water", that could mean two different things:
- I am making a 70% hydration dough, but decided I like the feel of 75% hydration better, so I ditched the original recipe at the end of the mixing process.
- I have lots of experience with this style of bread and how it needs to feel to achieve the desired rise, bloom, crust, crumb, shape, flavor, so I added more water to achieve the right feel.
I think most of us are doing 1, while we would prefer to do 2. Or, some of us incorrectly think we are doing 2 when in reality we are doing 1. And, the most experienced bakers who have made the same few loaves a hundred times or more are the only ones capable of doing 2.
Is there a tool that reliably measure the moisture content of dough? I know that you can measure the moisture content of wood with a voltmeter. I bet it would work even better with bread.
Baking is complex. dang.