The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

adjusting hydration levels for whole grain quickbreads and cookies?

four_row's picture
four_row

adjusting hydration levels for whole grain quickbreads and cookies?

I need a bit of advice on how to convert quick bread recipes to whole grain and have them stay moist. The Bread Lab at Washington State University argues that it is just a matter of adjusting the hydration level. But, when I look at whole grain bread recipes I really see both the hydration level and the time to absorb the moisture being involved. 

What is the best hydration level for a whole grain quick bread or a cookie?

How do I give time for the flour to absorb the moisture?

Lets keep this simple and say that it is just whole grain wheat flour.

Thank you!

-Peter 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

"What is the best hydration level for a whole grain quick bread or a cookie?"

That's as variable and subject to personal preference as the hydration level of bread.  And would naturally depend on a handful of variables such as ingredients/inclusions, size/mass of the loaf, baking time,  and baking temp.

When you "convert" a formula/recipe by making a major change of ingredients, such as going from all white flour to all whole grain, you are essentially inventing a whole new formula.  which  necessarily involves trial and error.  In other words, you're on your own.

You can also search online for whole grain recipes and see what hydration % others use in whole grain quick breads.  be sure to include "recipe" in your search terms.

allrecipes.com has a nice search-by-ingredient feature.

That said, here is how I approached inventing my own whole grain muffins, which are essentially quickbreads:

1. go by feel when determining hydration.  add water until it feels right, keeping track of additions. Or set aside a known quantity, say 200 g water, and after making additions, weigh again, and subtract from 200.

How do you know what feels right? --- trial and error -- experience.

2. be aware that inclusions will either absorb water/oil, or add their own. 

3. Oil, eggs, sugar, syrups, etc., will also affect how much water is needed.

Good luck, and bon appétit.