The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Double hydration and open crumb

bikeprof's picture

Double hydration and open crumb

I'll just throw out one of the more interesting tidbits from my recent experience taking Advanced Breads with Didier Rosada at SFBI.

Most of the formulas we mixed used double hydration...and while some were wet enough to justify this technique because adding all the water in the initial mix would make getting enough gluten development difficult...there was a further rationale given.

First, mixing to desired level of development in a stiffer dough (holding back some water) makes that process go faster, with less oxidation.

Second, the claim was that the late addition of held back water meant more "free water" in the dough (not really defined, but I'm assuming that is water that hasn't been taken up by proteins/starches/sugars).  And that free water is a place where fermentation can happen at a faster rate, and that contributes to an open and irregular crumb, as it occurs in the spaces occupied by the free water distributed throughout the dough.

Finally, it was noted that further mixing after adding final water didn't contribute significantly to further dough development (point being that it is relatively safe from the risk of overdevelopment).

Above is a pointy batard made for a simple sourdough from the class...


iwonder's picture


for the tips from the class.  Some questions come to mind—please pardon the bread nerd curiosity. 


Addition of ‘2nd water’ is performed on speed 2 of the mixer, so even if it’ not affecting dough development, it will oxidize carotenoids, raise the dough temp, etc, wouldn’t it? 


Did you notice the effect of enhanced fermentation from the free water produced by double hydration mixing, or would you call it more of a theoretical detail?




Was there a preferred range of ‘first hydration’ level?  Let’s say you want to mix to improved, is there an optimum hydration level for the ‘first water’ for some of the basic flour/bread types?  It’s probably more work and harder on the dough to incorporate the second water the stiffer the dough is.  Do you push the first hydration as far as you think you can while still making sure you can pull an ‘improved’ window? 


Sorry for the deep dive—fertile ground for experimentation!


Thanks again for sharing.  😊


bikeprof's picture

Apology accepted, which is important, as I don't otherwise EVER geek out on bread, or take any deep dives into the workings of dough...

The response to your first question was 'no' - (for the most part (of course there is going to be some oxidation...there is oxygen in the air and in the water and the dough is exposed)...but not to a significant degree, in part because the water is claimed to coat the dough, minimizing the air that is being incorporated as you mix).  Temp and dough development tend to go together (from friction of the dough being worked), and the answer there was again...not to a significant degree, given the amount of mixing you are doing, and the effects of the added water.  We didn't get very far into all the underlying assumptions, so I can't take it any further without speculating a lot.

We didn't do any dough twice, and it wasn't in my bakery, so the points remain theoretical for me...I did use it today in my mixes, but I'll have to wait to see what the bake tomorrow brings (and then do it again a number of times) to have a practical opinion.  I don't think this is any kind of magic bullet (nor was it presented as such), but another potential strategy that could be useful.

The hydration on the initial mix was typically short of medium-soft (as in a high 60's% for a baguette dough).  NOT stiff, in part for the point you make about ease of incorporating water in the second hydration.  We didn't go by any strict percentages...but I would say holding back somewhere between 5-10% final water  (depending on the total hydration of the dough).  We did typically mix to an improved window...then added the second hydration, so it again depends on the total hydration of your dough for what that requires.


iwonder's picture

Until I learned some of the rudimentary parts of M Suas' teachings I wasn't aware of how critical the mixing process is to the rest of the dough process.  Every bit of info on the subject is like a gift!

Thanks again!

TopBun's picture

Thanks for sharing this. I’ve just started using double hydration in my breads and this provides some helpful insight.

For what it’s worth, I make almost all whole grain (usually 100%) and double hydration has made a real difference in the ability to get enough water in there for a reasonably open crumb, while still developing good dough strength. 

dabrownman's picture

Totally different than Varda's Knobs on the end!  Thanks fi\or explaining the free water thing too

Happy baking bikeprof