Have you ever wondered what makes a good pizza dough? Well, the answer is hydration. Hydration can be described as how much water is present in the dough and is one of the most important factors when talking about making pizza.
This article will go into detail on hydration and its importance to your pizza dough.
What is Pizza Dough Hydration?
Pizza dough hydration is the ratio of water to flour in a pizza dough recipe. This shows how much liquid is present as compared to dry ingredients such as flour and yeast.
Pizza dough with 1000g of flour and 650g of water would have a 65% hydration ratio.
A pizza dough with 500g of flour and 250g of water would have a 50% hydration ratio.
Baker’s percentages does confuse a lot of people but it s very simple to understand when you break it down. Baker’s percents is a way of telling how much each ingredient weighs when you make something. For example, if there is one pound of sugar, and five pounds of flour, that would be 10% sugar and 90% flour.
So if you wanted a pizza dough that had an hydration of 65% you would need 650g of water for a 1000g flour.
Let’s look at another example
If it says you need 2% salt and you have 1000g of flour, you need 20g of salt.
How to calculate Pizza Dough Hydration
There are two ways to get the amount of water you need for a recipe. You can use “bakers percentage” or “hydration percentage.” They are the same thing if you know how to do it. Get the total amount of flour in your recipe and then multiply it by 65% to find out how much water is needed.
So if a dough has 1000g of flour, 650g of water will have 65% hydration ratio.
How Pizza Dough Hydration Affects The Dough
Hydration levels are one of the most important factors when it comes to making your own pizza dough.
Some of the effects of dough hydration include;
- How Elastic the dough will be
- How Sticky the dough will be
- The rise of the dough
- Crispness and thickness of the crust.
Increasing hydration of the pizza do will increase its elasticity. This is because when you add more water to the dough it will stretch easier and won’t snap back as quickly if you let go of it.
When making your own pizza dough, try increasing or decreasing hydration levels in small increments to see how they affect your dough.
By increasing the hydration level, a dough will become more sticky. Sticky is not necessarily a bad thing as it does help the yeast ferment faster and rise better but too much stickiness can cause you problems when trying work with the dough.
A good way of dealing with this problem without having to add more flour would be using a pizza dough scraper when working your dough on the table. This will allow you to keep in control and scrape off any extra ingredients.
When working with high hydration doughs there is an increased chance that they may stick to the peel.
A higher hydration will make the dough rise faster as the more water there is, the faster it will ferment.
Dough with lower hydration levels tend to rise for a longer period of time and have better flavour profiles but use too much flour in your dough and you can kill all fermentation activity completely.
The rise also depends on what kind of yeast or leavening agent you are using as some take less time than others. A good rule of thumb would be anywhere between 55% – 70% hydrated dough.
Hydration will also impact the gluten structure of your dough. Low hydration levels will result in a denser and chewier pizza crust with less holes to them than the high hydrated doughs which have fluffier, lighter textures.
Things That Affect Hydration
There are a number of things that will affect the hydration in your pizza dough. Such as incorrect amounts of ingredients, adding extra flour or water, and even humidity.
Wrong Amounts Of Ingredients
It’s really important that you measure your ingredients correctly. You should use kitchen scales to weigh out your ingredients and not cups or spoons as they aren’t always an accurate way to do this.
Adding More Flour When Kneading The Pizza Dough
It’s really important that you measure your ingredients correctly. You should use kitchen scales to weigh out your ingredients and nWhen we look at hydration this is calculated at the end of the baking process. So if you add flour while kneading your dough it will actually become less hydrated.
The reason behind this is that the flour absorbs some of the water and depending on how much you add, your hydration levels could end up around 50% – 60%.
The humidity can have an impact on your final hydration %. The higher the humidity is the more water will be in your dough and vice versa. If it’s very humid you might have to add a bit less flour or more water if its very dry.
So What Exactly Is The Best Hydration For Pizza Dough?
The best hydration does depend on what you are looking for in your dough. How you plan to bake it and what flour you are using.
The best hydration is one that allows for an easy de-stretchable dough, with a light and airy texture.
If you want to experiment further using different types of flours or even have interesting flavour profiles then go ahead but if it’s your first time making homemade pizza I would recommend keeping it around 60%.
Best Hydration For Neapolitan Pizza Dough
The True Neapolitan Pizza Association (AVPN) says that the best dough hydration is between 57% – 63%.
With Neapolitan Pizza Dough you would have a lower hydration because its normally cooked in a wood-fired oven. Wood-Fired ovens reach very high temperatureshttps://mysliceofpizza.com/pizza-dough-calculator/ and the dough needs to be stiffer so that it can rise quickly, trap gas inside resulting in a light texture.
Neapolitan Pizza Dough Hydration Levels Using A Home Oven
If you was to use your home oven then the hydration for Neapolitan would be between 65% – 70%.
The higher hydration levels of neapolitan pizza dough will help it rise more in the oven, creating a light and airy texture.
Because you are using an electric home oven to cook your Neapolitan Pizzas then they won’t be as hot as wood-fired.
You can increase the temperature by using a pizza stone, this will help you almost mimic the effects of a wood-fired pizza oven.
Its worth experimenting but good hydration level for you would be 65% – 70%.
The dough should have enough strength to rise well and hold all of those delicious toppings.
Types of Flour and Their Impact On Hydration
Different types of flour absorbs water differently, so if you use different varieties this will affect how much water your dough absorbs.
For example 00 flour has the highest gluten levels and would absorb more moisture than a weaker one like pastry or cake flour. If you were to increase the hydration of those flours it could end up with soggy results so keep that in mind.
What is Water Absorption?
Water absorption and hydration are not the same thing. It is basically the flours ability to absorb water. The higher the absorption of water means that the dough will require less hydration, where as if its low in absorbs then your pizza dough might need a higher level of hydration.
To fully understand pizza dough hydration, it’s going to take time and practice. It’s just really important to understand how it works. This is going to help you perfect your pizza dough making skills.
The best hydration for pizza dough is a personal preference and might take some experimenting. The key to remember when working out the perfect level of hydration is that it’s all about texture. It should be light and airy with a good stretchability.
Keeping the humidity in mind, just remember that if you are using high protein flours, then your hydration levels might have to adjust slightly because of how absorbent they will be.