Super Simple Summary on Determining Hydration Level in Your Sourdough

Measuring hydration in a sourdough recipe is crucial because it determines the ratio of water to flour in your dough, which in turn affects the texture and characteristics of your sourdough bread. Hydration is typically expressed as a percentage and can vary depending on your specific recipe and preferences. To measure hydration, you’ll need to know the weight of both the water and the flour you’re using in your sourdough recipe. Here’s how to calculate it:

  1. Weigh Your Ingredients: Start by weighing your ingredients accurately. You’ll need to measure the weight of the flour and water in grams or ounces. Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements.
  2. Calculate the Total Weight: Add the weight of the flour and the weight of the water to get the total weight of your ingredients.
  3. Calculate the Hydration Percentage: Divide the weight of the water by the weight of the flour and multiply by 100 to get the hydration percentage. The formula is:Hydration Percentage=(Weight of WaterWeight of Flour)×100Hydration Percentage=(Weight of FlourWeight of Water​)×100

For example, if you used 500 grams of water and 1000 grams of flour, the hydration percentage would be:

Hydration Percentage=(5001000)×100=50%Hydration Percentage=(1000500​)×100=50%

So, in this example, your sourdough recipe would have a hydration of 50%.

Different hydration levels result in different textures and characteristics in your sourdough bread:

  • Low Hydration (60-65%): This results in a firmer, denser crumb and a crust that’s more crisp and less chewy. It’s often used for sandwich bread.
  • Medium Hydration (65-75%): This is a common range for most sourdough recipes, resulting in a chewy crumb and a good balance between an open crumb and a crusty exterior.
  • High Hydration (75% and above): This results in a more open crumb structure with large holes and a thinner, crusty exterior. High-hydration dough can be more challenging to work with but can yield artisan-style bread.

Keep in mind that the specific hydration level you choose should align with the type of bread you want to bake and your experience level. You can always adjust the hydration in your recipe to achieve the desired texture and flavor in your sourdough bread.

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