Pizza dough hydration is a pretty important aspect in making the best pizza dough, 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 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.
The great thing about it is that it is really easy to understand and do with just a few guides on hand.
So with this post, we will be explaining how you should hydrate your pizza properly and see what the benefits are.
This is a basic guide that you can use to understand pizza hydration.
What Is Meant By Pizza Dough Hydration?
Pizza dough hydration is simply the measurement of water content relative to the amount of flour you have used.
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.
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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 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.
Highly hydrated pizza doughs are also hard to manage as they will not slide into the oven easily.
You will need to add more flour to your pizza peel to transfer the dough properly.
So, What Are The Benefits Of Lower To Higher Hydration Pizza Dough?
There are only 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.
60% Hydration Pizza Dough
The benefits you get from lower hydration include being easier to handle.
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.
Beginners can enjoy shaping and kneading this dough with that hydration level as the hands will stay dry.
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 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.
How do you calculate hydration for pizza dough?
Pizza Dough Hydration Calculator
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.
However, this is risky as a little addition of either water or flour can affect the hydration levels of the dough.
One thing you can do is to measure the ingredients including the extra ones you use.
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.
The higher the altitude, the drier the flour tends to be so it absorbs more water to increase the hydration.
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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.
The reason behind this is because Neapolitan pizzas need to cook at very high temperatures.
The dough tends to cook quickly so it does not have to burn too much water.
The lower hydration level makes it possible to get that nice browned char under the dough and the crispy texture due to the high 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 oven.
I use the Caputo Tip 00 flour and this level of hydration works best with this flour.
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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