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Ball of pizza dough on a set of scales, being used to measure pizza dough hydration.
Ball of pizza dough on a set of scales, being used to measure pizza dough hydration.

Dough Hydration Explained

What is pizza dough hydration? One of the most commonly asked questions… Simply put, it’s the amount of water you put into your pizza dough recipe. Usually it’s referred to as a percentage. For example, 1000g of flour and 600g of water - that’s 60% hydration. However, not all flour can handle high hydration, so it’s best to start low and work your way up. 

Different pizza styles have different hydrations, and this is due to the characteristics of the finished product, and the flour types. For example, Detroit has a fairly high moisture content between 70 - 75%, whilst Neapolitan style generally sits at around the 55-60% mark. 

So, what are the benefits of lower to higher pizza dough hydration? 

Let’s kick off with a 60% hydration. This is most common in beginners recipes. Not because it’s an easy formula, but because lower hydration dough is easier to work with. 

Characteristics of lower hydration dough are;

  • Easier to handle
  • Firmer dough so will hold its shape 
  • Not sticky 
  • It will need more work when stretching your base

Baked lower hydration dough;

  • Drier
  • Dense crust with fewer air pockets

What about a slightly higher hydration… A 65% hydration dough will be slightly tacky, meaning that it may be more difficult to work with if you’re not used to working with dough. The higher the hydration, the more practice required. 

Let’s push it a bit further and go to 70%. The dough will be stretchy, sticky, and you’ll have to be very quick when it comes to balling it up. However, the end result will be a beautifully light, soft crust. 

Characteristics of higher hydration dough are;

  • Trickier to handle if you’re a beginner
  • A much stretchier, relaxed dough - it will spread
  • Sticky 
  • It’ll feel lighter 
  • Easier to stretch out as long as you’re gentle

Baked high hydration dough; 

  • Much lighter and softer 
  • Open crumb structure 
  • Crispy base

There you have it… Don’t let words baffle, it’s simple once you know how! We have an amazing Ooni Community there to help you on your pizza journey, reach out and share your queries! 

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