The Fresh Loaf

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How to think about dry additions with respect to flour?

kiboko's picture

How to think about dry additions with respect to flour?


Something that I would love to understand better when build a sourdough recipe. Standard recipe calculators provide you a flour amount for a target dough hydration level. 

If I want to add a dry (powdered) seasoning/flavouring, for example garlic powder, milk powder, etc. Does the amount of the added dry ingredients take from the flour amount or not?

For example, using Volodymyr Agafonkin's recipe calculator a 810g pre-bake dough at 80% hydration, 2.2% salt, 20% starter yields a 400g flour, 311g water, 89g starter and 9.8g salt bill. 

If I want to add 8% milk powder, would I go with 400g flour + 32g milk powder or go with 368g flour and 32g milk powder?

I am trying to understand if adding dry seasonings tweaks the starting flour bill or is outside of the flour bill?

A supplemental question for dry additions; Are there any additional considerations for the dough hydration level when added (typically) non-fermentable dry additions?

Obviously I am seeking standard repeatable results in-order to play with dry additions.


pmccool's picture

For instance, will the dry addition(s) draw water from the finished bread?  Some will, some won’t.  If they do, you’ll need to provide for their hydration.  Further, depending on the dry addition's characteristics, you might even have to modify the process to add a hot or cold soaker so that the dry addition is hydrated before it is mixed with the dough.  (Think seeds, meals, cracked grains, etc.)

Some dry addition quantities are so small, relative to the flour content, that they don’t have a sensible effect on the dough; such as herbs and spices.  Their effects on the dough are apt to be less noticeable than changes in humidity, so I wouldn’t try to tinker with the flour quantity.  

For something like milk powder, I’d treat it as though the water plus the milk powder were fluid milk.  Mix the dough without changing the flour quantity and then, if necessary, add some more water to achieve the desired dough consistency. 

Like most things involving bread, it depends.


mariana's picture

The base of the bread (traditionally) is just flour and water. Everything else is seasoning (salt, for example) or bread improvers, such as yeast, sugar, fat, milk, etc., They make bread taller, fluffier, it keeps better, etc.

You do not change the base, you always take flour at 100% and everything else relates to it. Water will change depending on what else you add to the base. Salt, for example, needs about 3x its weight to be dissolved in bread, so you would add a bit of water along with salt. Fat, sugar and egg will lead to reduction in the water needed. Dry milk needs additional water to moisten it.

If I want to add 8% milk powder, would I go with 400g flour + 32g milk powder or go with 368g flour and 32g milk powder?

Well you total flour in that loaf is actually 445g, 45g of it is prefermented in levain. 8% milk is just like 2% salt or 80% water, it is added to flour as an improver, it does not replace the flour.

Does the amount of the added dry ingredients take from the flour amount or not?

It depends. Usually it doesn't. The tricky part is using cereal products as "seasonings". For example, if you are talking about bread to which some grain is added in milled, cracked, or flaked form, some bakers will add it to the total flour base, as part of 100% flour in bread, while others will treat them as "seasonings".

For example, 400g flour is 100% flour in some bread. A baker decides to add a handful of rolled malted wheat flakes to it, let's say 50g of rolled wheat malt.

In one tradition, flour will be kept at 400g =100% grain base, everything else relates to that, including 50g malted wheat flakes =12.5% .

In another tradition, 450g blend of wheat flour and rolled malted wheat kernels will be taken as 100% bread base and everything else relates to it, because 450g of wheat needs more salt, more yeast, etc. than 400g.

The same is with adding bran (or germ), for example, as "seasonings". 100g wheat and 10g bran in a recipe. Some bakers treat it as a total of 110g of flour base, an equivalent of high extraction flour, 110g g of that blend is 100% bread base, while others won't. They will write 100% flour to which 10% of bran is added.


rondayvous's picture

Even the best recipe is a poor substitute for knowing how your dough is supposed to feel, and what you are looking for in your bulk and final rise - or for that matter, what you want from your crumb and crust.

If you are taking a recipe and making additions without ever having made the unaltered version previously - you're kinda winging it - since that is the case (I'm a fan), adjust your flour or liquids according to what the dough is telling you.

As others here have noted, some additives are hygroscopic (suck up water from surroundings), hydrophilic (dissolves in water) and hydrophobic ( repels water). Where it gets even trickier is that many additives become gels when combined with water and heat, affecting your crumb. Hydroscopic ingredients will directly compete with the starches and yeast for water in your dough, requiring more liquid.

In the last month or so, I made a Reinhart "Breads Revolution" sprouted whole wheat bread. The first time I made it I struggled with dough so slack I finally gave up and dumped it in a bread pan. After re-reading his instructions, I noticed where he compared the texture of the dough to ciabatta dough. The next loaf was perfect - it also had about 5% less water than in his book.

kiboko's picture

These are all great comments. "Feel your dough". Will continue to make small (1 or 2 variable) changes and try to learn from that. 

Thanks for the feedback.