Hydration — what’s the key to finding a balance?

Hydration — what's the key to finding a balance?

Submitted by reedlaw on October 30, 2015 – 8:07pm.

Higher hydration dough produces better results overall. But at what point do you decide the dough is too sticky to handle? I’ve followed recipes such as txfarmer’s 100% ww oat bread but it doesn’t shape like in the pictures. I had a problem with large holes forming in the middle of my loaves that I was able to solve with proper shaping. But at higher hydration shaping becomes a problem as the dough sticks all over the place. I use a silicone mat for kneading and shaping but even so it sticks while trying to roll or transferring to a pan. Could it be differences in flour require higher or lower hydration levels? I’m using home milled whole wheat flour. I’ve been testing at various increments but even the lowest hydration levels (around 80%) are hard to work with. I’m aiming for a soft sandwich loaf and I’ve found 90% or higher produces excellent texture.