When Life Gives You Overhydration

I made baguettes Fromartz a few weeks ago, and they were great. I’m not sure if I mentioned, though, that the first time I tried them, I made a mistake in reading the formula.

It wasn’t a hard mistake to make (I’m very good at rationalizing these things) — don’t you think that when 420 grams of water is sandwiched between 90 grams of starter and 590 grams of flour in the ingredients list, it would be very easy to turn that 420 grams of water into 490 grams? Of course it would be.

With that extra 70 grams of water, a dough that should have been 72% hydration became 83%. That’s way too wet for a baguette. Of course I could have added additional flour. But adding more flour without adding proportionally more of the other ingredients (whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt in this case) would have changed the entire formula, and I just was not in the mood for doing all that math. (If you know me, you may wonder at this. Believe it or not, there are rare times when I am not in the mood for math.)

83% hydration, though, is perfect for ciabatta. So, a simple shift in perspective and I was back on track: this was not ruined baguette dough, it was a very nice ciabatta dough. Carry on.

Normally I would make ciabatta by reserving a portion of the water and adding it only after the gluten has been fairly well developed (the double-hydration technique). I couldn’t do that in this case because I wasn’t aware of my mistake until I had already added all the water. But it still turned out pretty well. I can’t explain it, but I did enjoy the bread.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    I’m never in the mood for all that math, so I bow to your awesomeness on all things bread. Great holes and gorgeous crust look very much like the ciabatta I still haven’t made ; )

  2. says

    If all of my mistakes looked like that, life would be so much better. I’d settle for anything that could be considered edible.

  3. says

    What a great mistake! :-)

    I am still at a point in which my mistakes end up in the trash, and either I start all over, or postpone the adventure…

    but I will keep your post in mind for my next boo-boo. After all, ciabatta IS one of my favorite breads

    great job!

  4. Tia says

    That bread looks so amazing! I actually just made that dough 20 minutes ago and almost did the same mistake!! Tee Hee! I have been making it into a ciabatta shape, maybe I should add the extra water next time and see what I get. Thanks for the mistake!!

  5. Janknitz says

    I once had an art teacher who said: “If you made a mistake and something didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, pretend you meant it to be that way.”

    That’s been my motto ever since, and I certainly wouldn’t even have to pretend if my mistake came out the way yours did. Looks great!

  6. says

    Sometimes a mistake can safe the day…that bread looks really beautiful. I love how the flour is distributed on the crust. Oh and I’d love to bite gright into that crust.

  7. says

    It still looks like it has a good texture! Way to put a positive spin on this mistake :) After all, some of the best foods come from mistakes!

  8. says

    Boy, I wish my kitchen mishaps turned out this perfectly. I don’t even know if I made ciabatta on purpose they would come out this beautifully!

  9. says

    Sam, you know, actually I didn’t. I followed your mixing and folding instructions to the letter, then used my usual shaping technique for ciabatta. Like I said, I can’t really explain it.

  10. Lex says

    One of my baking mentors used to say, “There are no mistakes in bread baking, just new kinds of bread!”

  11. Per says

    So… it makes me wonder; I’ve tried “the Fromartz” a couple of times, and I find the hand kneading technique quite challenging even for the original recipe @ 72%. Did you actually knead that by hand? Did you lose your mind and cry for help? Do you still have nightmares about sticky dough everywhere?

    Did it raise overnight in the fridge? How long?

    //P

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