The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hydration percentages??

Chana's picture
Chana

Hydration percentages??

Hello all! Can anyone point me to a good, resource that clearly and simply explains how hydration percentages work? I'm new here, and am blown away be how generous you all are with your guidance. But I get lost when the topic of hydration comes up.

A couple of years ago, I was given some starter and, little by little, I and have become really good at making beautiful loaves with my ONE-AND-ONLY sourdough recipe. But I'd like to move on to new things, and I want to get a deeper understanding about how the formulas work. 

Many thanks!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’m not sure exactly what you want to know about hydration, but I’ll take a stab at it.

Hydration, whether in a starter or a dough is the percentage of total water in the dough compared to the total weight of all flours in that same dough. For example if your total flour in your starter or dough is 100 grams and your water is 65 grams, then the hydration is 65%. To calculate this divide the weight of the water by the weight of the flour. (65/100=0.65 or 65%)

Here is a resource. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/baker039s-math

If this hasn’t answered your question, reply with an example of what you’d like to know.

By the way, any and all other ingredients are calculated the same exact way. Example - salt. It is common to use 2% salt in a bread dough. So, if the total weight of the flour in the dough is 100 grams, the 0.02x100=2, or 2 grams of salt.

We are here to help. Please ask any questions that come to mind. The concept is simple once you get the hang of it. I’m pretty slow, but once I caught on it was simple. Baker’s Percentages makes understanding a recipe or formula very easy to understand quickly.

Danny

Chana's picture
Chana

Many thanks! I imagine this information will help me make adjustments when I substitute flours of different absorbencies, right? I know it will enable me to be more specific when I describe doughs. I've been a baker for nearly 40 years, and although I've always managed fine without baker's math, I've used ambiguous and goofy terms like "quite wet but not totally shiny," "the stickiness of scotch tape," or "feels sort of like an earlobe." And although I'm sure I'll be a sourdough enthusiast, I'm new to it... Which leads me to my next question:

Do I figure my starter into the liquid percentage or the flour percentage? My white+spelt starter is 100%, but my rye starter is more like 110%. 

I am so happy to have found this wonderful resource. What a nice community.

Cheers,

Chana

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Yes, the starter flour and liquid counts. Study the image of the spreadsheet below. Notice the ingredients in the Total Formula are subtracted by the Preferment 1 (STARTER OR Levain) and the results are in the Final Dough Column.

Not all bakers calculate their starter/levain this way. But this method gives to the actual hydration of the dough.


Chana, if you are familiar with Excel, I can send you a working spreadsheet.

FYI - the starter /levain is calculated as a Percentage of Preferment Flour (PPF). It doesn’t take into account the hydration. Example - your total flour (including the flour in your starter or levain is 100g. And your starter/levain contains 10g flour. The Percentage of Prefermented Flour is 10%, regardless of the hydration. The more you look at this, the more sense it will make.

Danny

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

If you can tolerate my writing style, I show my calculations in my latest blog entry about my 3rd TFL bake:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/61553/third-tfl-bake-more-autolyse-more-starter-less-kamut

Started out with:

752 g flour so far.

653 g bottled spring water.  86.8% Hydration so far

---

Later, I added in 200 gr of 100% hydration starter, meaning that the starter added 100 g of flour and 100 g of water.

653 + 100 = 753 g of water so far.

752 + 100 = 852 g of total flour so far.

753 / 852 = 88.38% hydration so far.

---

Then later I added 14.5 g of salt* sort-of dissolved in 12.5 gr of water.  Salt does not "count" as flour, nor does it count as water. But the 12.5 gr of water does get added into the running total.

753 + 12.5 = 765.5 g of water so far.

852 g of flour, as before.

765.5 / 852 = 89.8% final hydration, because I didn't add anything after this.

---

This % is high, but this was 100% whole grain, which does take a high hydration, and baked for 84 minutes.

Dan has a good spreadsheet to  help with all the arithmetic.

 --

* my goal for the salt was 1.7% of the flour.  So .017 x 852 gr of flour = 14.484 gr salt, rounded up to 14.5.  This is too little salt for bare bread, but my plan is to use seasoned toppings or dipping oil, or toast it and put in stew.  But I'm starting to think more salt will also give a better crumb structure.

Chana's picture
Chana

Thank you for taking the time to write such a clear explanation!