What is pizza dough hydration?

What is pizza dough hydration?

Posted by Zoe on 9th Apr 2023

What is pizza dough hydration?

Dough hydration refers to the amount of water in relation to the amount of flour in the dough. It's usually expressed as a percentage, with the total weight of water divided by the total weight of flour, multiplied by 100. For example, if you have 500 grams of flour and 350 grams of water, the hydration would be 70% ((350/500) x 100). Dough hydration also affects how sticky and elastic the dough is, how much it will rise, and how crispy or soft the crust is.

Factors affecting hydration:

  • Inaccurate measurements; it is better to use a kitchen scale in grams rather than by volume e.g cups, as it allows for less room for error.
  • Humidity; humidity can affect the moisture content of flour and the amount of water needed in the dough. On humid days, you may need to reduce the amount of water in your dough to achieve the desired hydration level.
  • Additional flour during kneading; if you add more flour whilst kneading, you will reduce hydration, as the hydration of your dough is the total amount of water compared to flour at the end of the baking process. This is because the amount of flour has increased, lowering the water percentage. It is recommended that you measure out the total amount of flour you plan on using including any extra you think you may need during the kneading process.
  • Additional water during kneading; this causes the opposite of additional flour. This is because if you are adding more water, you are increasing the percentage of water compared to flour, thus increasing the dough hydration.

What is the best hydration for pizza dough?

The best hydration depends on what properties you want from your dough, how you cook it, and the type of flour you use.

The best hydration for Neapolitan pizza dough:

The True Neapolitan Pizza Association’s International regulation have said that an authentic Neapolitan pizza should have a dough hydration between 55.5-62.5%. This is because you bake it in a pizza oven, meaning it will bake at a very high temperature and will not allow much time for the moisture to evaporate from the dough.

What is the best hydration for Neapolitan pizza in a home oven?

When cooking pizza in a normal oven, hydration of 65-70% is recommended. This is higher than in a pizza oven because, due to it being a lower temperature, the pizza needs to stay in the oven for longer. This means that more water will evaporate from the dough whilst baking, compared to the extreme temperatures of the wood-fired oven.

Here's a basic recipe for making pizza dough from scratch:

  • 500g bread flour
  • 325g water (65% hydration)
  • 10g salt
  • 5g active dry yeast
  • 15g olive oil
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix well and allow the yeast a minute or two to bloom.
  2. Add the water and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow the dough to rise for around 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough and divide it into 2-4 portions, depending on how many pizzas you want to make. Ball the dough and transfer to an airtight contain to proof, at room temperature this will take around 8-12 hours.
  6. Stretch each portion of dough on a floured surface to the desired thickness and shape.
  7. Top the pizza with your favourite ingredients and cook. Heat your pizza oven to 400-500°C to cook each pizza in 90 seconds, or bake in a preheated oven at around 245-260°C for 10-12 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Watch Sara on YouTube make a beginner friendly pizza dough

Photo by Fabrizio Pullara on Unsplash