Dough Hydration

Dough hydration refers to the ratio of water to flour in a bread or pizza dough recipe, indicating the amount of water relative to the flour by weight. Expressed as a percentage, dough hydration plays a crucial role in determining the texture, structure, and overall quality of the finished product. It can also be an indicator of how well a certain flour absorbs water.

A higher hydration percentage means a wetter dough, resulting in a more open crumb structure and a softer, airier texture once baked. Conversely, a lower hydration percentage produces a drier, firmer dough with a tighter crumb structure. Bakers and pizza makers adjust hydration levels based on desired outcomes, considering factors like dough handling, fermentation time, the temperature of the oven, and the final product characteristics. Experimenting with hydration levels allows for customization in terms of crust crispiness, chewiness, flavor development, and overall mouthfeel, making it a fundamental aspect of dough preparation in artisanal baking and pizza-making.

As a very rough rule of thumb, pizza dough is hydrated at 60-65%. Focaccia and Ciabatta are hydrated at 80%, and a tradition French baguette is hydrated at about 75%. Of course there are just estimates, but they can serve as a good starting point.