Pizza dough hydration is a pretty important aspect in making the best pizza dough reicpe, and in this post, we would detail how you can get the perfect pizza dough hydration and the Best Hydration Level For Pizza.
Knowing the best hydration level for the pizza dough is important as it helps make the crust crispy and chewy.
I was a pretty sloppy pizza dough maker until this post because I never measured my water perfectly and added it to the dough.
I always added random quantities, but I realized how effective pizza dough hydration could be while researching this article and trying to make pizza doughs with different water quantities.
Making pizzas is pretty complicated when you start from scratch.
You have to know how crispy you would want the pizza to be, which takes some preparation and specific measurements.
Hydration is a very important factor as it affects the crispiness that you would want on your pizza.
It can also make the process slower or faster, depending on the level of hydration.
You can easily mess up the pizza recipe if you do not put the right hydration on your pizza.
Although, you can always fix it by either adding more flour or just by kneading it well and letting it poof, its just not the same.
Very similar to relationships, it is just not the same if you reconcile after a break up. There is a lot of awkwardness and sometimes resentment.
The good thing is it isn’t awkward if you screw up and the chances of screwing up is very less likely than a breakup.
So do read the entire pizza dough hydration guide to make the perfect pizza dough.
What Is Meant By Pizza Dough Hydration?
Pizza dough hydration explained, is simply the measurement of water content to the amount of flour you have used. Side note, the type of flour, like Tipo 00 flour that you use can also affect this.
You can measure how hydrated your dough is by the percentage of water content used in making the dough to the total amount of flour used.
The amount of flour you use is usually met with the right amount of water to attain the consistency you would want on the pizza dough, as it affects the crispiness and texture of the crust.
The water content or the hydration will also determine how easy it is to manage the dough.
Hydration in the dough is simple, but it is easier said than done to perfect hydration.
So, for example, you had 1000 grams of flour, and you put 55 grams of water in it.
That means that the dough you are making has 55% hydration which is pretty good for a crispy pizza recipe.
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There are pizza doughs that do well with anywhere between 55-62 percent hydration.
This is a good range for you to obtain that perfect Neapolitan crust that is thin, yet the cornicione has well-formed air pockets in it.
Experimenting and changing the levels of hydration will directly affect the finish of your pizza crust.
You need to make sure that you use the right amount of water in the dough in making it.
If you get the right amount of hydration to your dough, the results will determine exactly how you would want it.
You need to properly adjust the water level to get to the right ratio on your pizza.
Why Is Pizza Dough Hydration Important?
Pizza dough hydration is very important because, as said above, it directly affects the consistency of the dough and the crust later on when you have cooked your pizza in the wood-fired oven.
When it comes to the dough, lower hydration means that the dough might not be as sticky as the ones you usually use, but it can be hard to shape and knead the dough by hand with its low hydration.
At 70% hydration, the pizza dough should be easy to manage.
It is better to use this hydration level when trying to make authentic pizzas, and you would want to knead the dough by hand.
My personal best was at 62 percent because I live in a humid climate, and such factors can affect your pizza dough hydration levels.
The crust of the pizza or the dough when cooked is also directly affected by the hydration level.
You need to know how much you put in the dough to control the crispiness of the crust.
When the hydration is too low, it can be too dry and dense, which will make your crust a little crispy on the outside, but it will also make the interior slightly dense and hard to bite into.
This happened to me before I started measuring the flour that I use in my dough.
I used a bit much flour in comparison to water resulting in slightly dense pizza dough.
A dough that has too much hydration will also give your pizza problems.
Too much water can cause the pizza to become soggy as the moisture is not removed immediately from it. I have explained this above and have met the same problem when I started cooking.
Highly hydrated pizza doughs like 75%, 80%, and even 100% are also hard to manage as they will not slide into the wood-fired oven easily. 80%, I think is the limit for pizza dough after that the dough is better off for making pastries.
You will need to add more flour to your pizza peel to transfer the dough properly.
So, What Are The Benefits Of Lower and Higher Hydration Pizza Dough?
There are two common hydration levels on pizza doughs.
The 60%, which is a slightly easier dough to manage, and the 70% have a slightly better result when managed properly.
There is no point in overachieving while making a pizza dough, so choose a hydration level that works best for you.
60% Hydration Pizza Dough
The benefits you get from lower hydration include being easier to handle. This can be seen with the Sicilian, New York, and Detroit-style pizzas. Tipo 00 flour also uses this level of hydration.
Although the Sicilian, New York, and Detroit-style pizzas have 65% hydration, they are still considered low hydration. If you make them lower than 65%, then you will see how easy it is to manage.
This hydration level is perfect for beginners as it can make managing the dough easier and allows for more adjustment.
This hydration level is easier to handle as it does not have a sticky consistency.
The problem with this is that it is firm, and while that is a benefit for the dough to hold its shape, it can be little hard to shape. With just a few stretches though, you can knead it properly.
70% Hydration Pizza Dough
The higher hydration for the dough is a little tricky and it takes more practice to manage, knead, stretch, and shape it properly into the size you would want your pizza dough to be.
The New York, Sicilian, and Detroit-style pizzas can also reach this hydration percentage. However, the NY-style usually sticks to 65% unlike the Sicilian and Detroit-style that can be wetter.
The good thing is that it does not stress your palms but it sticks a bit though, so make sure you apply oil if needed.
The wetter dough is easier to stretch as it is softer and more relaxed which means it will easily spread if you are careful enough.
With this hydration level, the pizza dough will turn into a lighter, crispier base for your pizza and it will also feel lighter.
You just need to know how to be gentle when handling or kneading it. It is rare that pizzas go lower than 50% or higher than 75%, let alone 80% or 100% hydration so it is important to know how to handle the dough at this hydration level.
How do you calculate hydration for pizza dough?
PizzApp+ is the best app out there to calculate pizza dough hydration and also measure exact ingredients for making the perfect dough.
You just need to know the kind of pizza you want to make, what type of dough you are using, and enter the amount. Leave the calculator to itself and it will show you exactly how much hydration percentage you need.
What Factors Affect Hydration Levels?
Many different things affect the hydration level of the dough.
You need to consider the following as they will hugely affect the dough and its consistency when baked.
First, there are inaccurate measurements when making pizza dough.
You need to commit to the measurements as it is the most important factor in determining water ratio to flour.
Inaccurate measurements will hugely affect the hydration of the dough.
I recommend investing in a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients you use instead of using volumes or in cups.
Another factor is adding flour to the water when kneading.
Understandably, you would need to adjust the consistency of the dough when kneading to make it more manageable.
Measuring each ingredient you will use when making the dough, including the ones you will use when kneading, is important so you do not have to add more of them.
Humidity and altitude are also important when measuring the hydration on the dough.
See, the dough is easily affected by its surroundings which means that you can easily disrupt the hydration level.
It will require lower hydration if you live in an area with high humidity and vice versa.
How to handle High Hydration Pizza Dough
I could go on explaining on how to handle a high hydration pizza dough but the video below gives a much better idea on how to handle a high hydration dough.
What is the Best Hydration for Pizza Dough?
The best hydration for pizza dough is around 65 percent and it ranges between 64-68 percent for many depending on the humidity of the environment.
What Is The Best Hydration For Neapolitan Pizza Dough?
Aside from cooking the pizza, Neapolitan pizza also has accuracy, especially with the hydration level.
You would need the pizza dough to have the right amount of water in it.
Considering other conditions used when cooking Neapolitan pizzas, there should also be a standard as to how much hydration the dough gets when making it authentic.
According to the Neapolitan Pizza Association’s international regulation, the pizza dough for Neapolitan pizzas should have a hydration level between 55.5% and 62.5% which is pretty low but some even go lower at 50%.
The reason behind this is because Neapolitan pizzas need to cook at very high oven temperatures.
The dough tends to cook quickly so it does not have to burn too much water.
Having a wide range of wood-fired oven temperatures is great but you need to know how to adjust the oven temperature accordingly.
The lower hydration level makes it possible to get that nice browned char under the dough and the crispy texture due to the high oven temperature it is cooked in and it should cook within 60-90 seconds.
Different Hydration Requires Different Types Of Flour
There are many different types of flour and unlike you think, they have different absorption and hydration levels. See, water absorption and hydration are not the same.
When making Neapolitan pizzas or any kind of pizza, you need to know the brand and type of flour you get to determine the right amount of water you need for the hydration of the dough.
This hugely depends on the absorption level of the flour that you choose to use.
It determines how much water the flour will take to attain the hydration level that you would need.
So make sure that you have gotten the right type of flour and the right amount of water you need.
That way, you will get the consistency you want and the crispiness on your pizza crust.
Absorption And Recommended Hydration For Different Types Of Flour
There are many types of flour that you can use when making your pizzas.
Remember, water absorption and hydration are not the same things so you should adjust according to the flour.
Very strong flours such as the Caputo Farina di Grano Tenero are difficult to manage and need practice.
They will need at least 63% of water to achieve the right consistency for pizzas.
Strong flours require somewhere between 58% and 60% of water to attain the right hydration that you need.
An example of strong flour is the Caputo Pizzeria flour.
Medium strength flour is easy to manage and perfect for beginners as they need 54% to 60% of water to attain the right hydration. An example of this flour is the Chef’s Flour from Caputo.
Weak flour requires less than 55% of water to get to the right hydration level.
You can also solve the right amount of water you need depending on the type of flour you have.
So you need to work a little with your flour on hydration and decide what levels work the best for you.
I think I will stick to 62-65 percent hydration as that is easier to manage and the pizzas cooked turn out perfect in my wood-fired oven.
I use the Caputo Tip 00 flour and this level of hydration works best with this flour. Tipo 00 flour is considered as the best type of flour to use on pizzas.
Depending on other factors in your situation, you can modify the hydration level of the pizza dough and figure out what works best for you.
Let me know if you have any questions!
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