Sourdough hydration experiments

Four pics today: a 76% hydration loaf and an 85% hydration loaf. I forgot to turn my oven down on the first one so it’s bold af. I like the bold bake, though it looked burned to others in my house. The first/76% is just out of my comfort zone, and the 85% is waaaaay out of my comfort zone. But my comfort zone has expanded because I’m not as afraid of the higher hydration as I used to be. I may not be good at it yet, especially the final stitching to add some more strength to the loaf, but it’s been a worthy and worthwhile push.

My takeaway? It’s hard to build enough strength with a wet dough. And remember it’s really not the hydration percentage that makes your dough wet. It’s hydration along with how much whole wheat / whole grain flours you’re using (and yes, the type of whole grains too). I’m only using 10% Type 85 whole wheat (@centralmilling), so my dough is really wet (to me). I read @maurizio’s blog and learned a lot; he’s a Bread Master for sure. I started out with stretch and folds instead of coil folds, and I really really stretched them up and then over. I did these every 15-20 minutes. I did four, but it’s not the number that mattered. I switched to coil folds when I could finally see more than just a gloppy dough when I came back for the next one. I even started this way with the 76% too. I did two stretch and folds with this dough.