The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A tip for shaping high hydration dough

albacore's picture
albacore

A tip for shaping high hydration dough

High hydration dough can be a nightmare to shape. I am talking about 80% hydration loaves with say, 20% whole grain, so there isn't a lot of bran there to soak up the water.

I can't claim the tip as mine; I read it on an Instagram Q&A post by the great Season_Adam. I've only tried it once, but it really worked well. I used a metal board, I'm not sure how well it would work on a wooden surface.

The tip is to do a wet pre-shape and a floured shape. So get a water spray and lightly mist your work surface, the top of the dough and your spatula. Gently turn out the dough with your spatula, scale and preshape, using the water spray as necessary.

Then do your bench rest - 20 minutes will probably be long enough at this hydration - and no need to cover the dough as it won't dry out.

After the bench rest, lightly sprinkle the dough and board with flour and shape as normal.

Give it a try!

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Lance, doesn’t the additional flour applied at shaping make sealing the dough difficult? I have problems sealing even wet dough most of the time.

albacore's picture
albacore

I don't have any issues when using a moderate amount of flour. Look at this Raymond Calvel video - he doesn't seem to be having any problems.

I read that Italian bakers tend to use a lot more (I think it was Ian Lowe that mentioned it in his Grainz 2019 demo).

Lance

albacore's picture
albacore

Thanks; I have seen it before - looks like another of those bakers with Teflon hands. The method I described seems to work surprisingly well for people with normal hands - ie me!

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Lance, I’ll be shaping very wet dough in the next 1/2 hr or so. Is the water sprayed on the dough during the preshape available to absorb the flour during the final shaping?

Does the characteristics of the feel of the flour change because of the pre-sprtized dough?

albacore's picture
albacore

Just keep the sprayed water to a minimum and if you can adjust the nozzle, make it a fine mist.

I didn't have an issue with excess water when going to the floured shape phase.

If you have a big dough knife like the one in the SFBi video it helps.

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(warfs my bran. ...anna kant imajin sayd wayt o such a ding!)

Do you mean cookie sheet or baking tray?  :)

albacore's picture
albacore

Metal board = sheet of 3mm anodised aluminium 600 x 500mm with a batten underneath at the front. Sits on my granite worktop. Very light, easily placed and removed and stored and the dough sticks to it less than it does to the granite.

Also using metal dough scrapers on any permanent worktop will soon scratch it. And plastic scrapers stick to dough more than metal ones. If you really want to make your stainless dough knives stick less, polish them to a literal mirror finish with Menzerna blue or finer.

Lance

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Well it seems, and there are no surprises to know that I approach this the Italian way and that is to use plenty of flour. The secret here is to make sure one actively "pats off" the additional.

Shaping is easy, it just takes confidence.

I've tried using water and I simply can't recommend this approach since it causes starch to wash-off all too easily and that feels wrong.

Oil is a good alternative but too expensive to use in a liberal way, and messy...

In the end good ol' cheap flour is simple and effective. Those Italians know what they are doing..!

albacore's picture
albacore

Michael, do the Italians do 80% hydration loaves?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Aside from commercially known ciabatta they certainly do..

There are hundreds of traditional breads in Italy.

80% hydration is not really high when a firm starter is used.

Pane di Cappelli is an 80% hydration (less firm starter) durum bread from Abruzzo.

I'm sure I could easily find further examples. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I'm keen to make this bread when I obtain a hefty supply of durum flour.

I love how this formula includes day old SD dough (pH 3.8) and culture yeast i.e. lievito madre (pH 4.1) together.

https://www.regione.abruzzo.it/system/files/agricoltura/pord_agroalimentari/Atlante_prodotti_tipici.pdf

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