The Fresh Loaf

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Do hydration levels affect proofing time?

Khaosky's picture

Do hydration levels affect proofing time?

Hi all, been baking since the start of this year and its been one hell of a journey in which by the time of writing i am generally happy with the taste texture and look of my bakes - sometimes would like more rise but ce la vie. 

In fact i solved a lot of issues by regulating my starter more and using it at bang on peak time. 

I have now got to a point where i am not entirely sure what a good loaf looks like anymore if you get what i mean, ive baked 'so many' now and tbh I am happy with them. However i wouldn't mine discussing/diagnosing some of my breads as i have a few questions and quite frankly all the info i have read on TFL just kind of sends me further down the rabbit hole.

My method is largely unchanging from this:

1:2:2 50/50 dark rye and SWBF (strong white bread flour) starter: keep at 78-82 - use at peak

500g WBF 

325g water

75g active starter

10g salt.


1. Autolyse w/ salt for 45

2. add starter and Rubaurd method for 5 until starter fully incorp. Then pick up dough, tuck end under and drop, repeat until i have a nice shape boule.

3. Leave for 4 hours 78-82F with S+F after 1st and 2nd hour, coil after 3rd and 4th.

4. pre shape and bench rest 20 - sometimes i don't do this, depends on how the dough feels (i get that this is inconsistent)

5. final shape and proof in bannaton for 2 hours at room temp. Use the poke test, or at least how i understand it. (I used to cold retard but i eliminated the process as i kept getting horrible flat breads - i want to re-incorporate tho).

6. bake for 40 mins on a hot hot oven (250 then turned down to 210) in a glass Pirex dish or when doing a loaf i use a bigger loaf tin on top as a lid. I also spritz the bread with water and the oven for good measure. then 20 mins at 200/190 or until internal temp has reached 210F minimum.

This is largely my process here are some examples:

Some have 20% wholemeal some have 20% einkorn as well, what i would do here is increase the hydration by 3-5%

 This was actually 75% hydration and 20% einkorn and baked in a DO. held barley any shape when out of bannaton. Over proofed? Yet still have lots of open crumb and fairly consistent aswell.

over baked this one a bit so thats why i have the thick crust there.

20% brown wholemeal

seeded with 20% wholemeal

no open crumb but consistent so was happy

ciabatta 100% white bread flour at 80% hydration (just to show i can work with higher hydration)


Ok so these breads have been made over the past 6-8 months so i cant remember all details exactly but i feel i have the same issue roughly every time.


So my questions are:

1. Open crumb (enough for me to actually eat something on top of the bread) but always a little dense and tight near the base of the bread, is this ok or is this not? (is it over proofed)

2. Some what inconsistent rise - starter is active so is this to do with over proofing/under proofing?

3. do hydration levels affect proofing time? The top picture being 75% flopped out of my basket like the early days (lost all shape) however i find it strange that i still seem to have decent enough gluten structure/strength.

4. in general - and i think this is where experienced bakers and semi proffs on TFL contradict each other, what is the differences between under and over-proofing doughs?

Thanks for any wisdom parted!!!