Mastering High Hydration Sourdough
Today we’re going to talk about high hydrated sourdough baking. Generally, sourdough breads have a hydration level of around 65% to 100% and depends on factors like what kind of flour is being used. A higher hydration level means a thinner and crisper crust and a more open crumb texture.
The level of hydration, or percentage of water content in the dough, affects the type of bread you’re going to end up with. Altering the hydration will determine the texture and appearance of your final product.
A higher level of hydration, and in this case, we will be working with 85% hydration, means that the dough will be softer and have more slack which makes it harder to handle during the folding processes.
However, it also means that the dough will need less rising time as it ferments faster.
It will definitely take some practice to work with higher hydration dough, but we’re going to talk you through some steps to make it easier.
First start off with 100g of dried sourdough starter, you can purchase this on our HNK shop here. Add 425 ml of water and then the flour—we use 480g of strong flour + 20g of Rye. Mix this until it crumbles and add 15g of salt.
We’ll then begin the fun—albeit tricky—part, folding! The video posted above will really help you understand this process.
Rest the dough overnight and in the morning, you should see some beautiful bubbles occur.
The next day, dust a bench with semolina and place the dough on top. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
We’ll be pre-shaping the dough by folding it on top of itself a few times, again the video will really help you understand this process.
The final shaping includes more folding; however, we grab the outer edges and bring them into the centre.
A cast iron pot works well as a baking vessel. We'll set the oven to 235°C and cook the loaf for 45 minuted lid on and another 15 minutes with the lid off.
With a bit of practice with this method you'll end up with a beautiful crisp crust and a fluffy and bubbly middle.