How to know how much water I do need for pizza dough, even for beginners

How to know how much water I do need for pizza dough, even for beginners

Flour, water, yeast and salt are the ingredients for pizza, in last article I talked about flour… it was the basics notions because there is a world behind it.

Let’s talk about other ingredients: Water.

Flour and water is the staple for a lot of different dough; pasta, pizza, bread and much more…

How do they interact each other? Protein of wheat + water, mixed together, create a rubbery substance in form of a tridimensional mesh called “GLUTINIC MESH”.

Gluten is one of the hotwords in modern age of food, especially because of gluten-deseases… as I just said, it’s the protein part of the flour mashed with water.

Glutinic mesh it’s very important because it traps gas, produced by yeast, inside the dough… making it rise.

How to understand how much water do I need?

First thing to know is that professionals talk about recipes taking flour weight as standard and rest of ingredients on percentage, for example:

  • 1 kg flour (1000 grams)
  • 70% water (700 grams)
  • 1% yeast (10 grams)
  • 3% salt (30 grams)

So when we talk about how much water in the dough, we say a percentage.

There is only one category of persons that start from water and then flour: napolitans.
But how much water do I need?

It depends on several things: which flour you’re using, which oven you have and which result you aim for.

In a previous article I talked about the strength of flour, saying that medium-strong or strong is what we use for pizza.
The stronger, the more water can absorb:

  • Medium strong is ok for 60-75 % hydration
  • Strong flour can absorb up to 100% water with some skill

Also oven is important if we’re making pizza: a professional one can reach very high temperature (400° celsius) therefore pizza will cook 2-3 minutes and you need low water in the dough otherwise it won’t cook.
If you’re using a home style oven, it won’t reach very high temperature (250° celsius) so you’re pizza will cook longer and you need more water inside otherwise it will be too tough as a cookie.

High or low water gives different results of course, you can recognize low-hydration bread if there are small bubbles inside the dough; if there are big bubbles it means much more water inside.

For home baking pizza I suggest 75% water, it’s quite high idratation but not too much, 75+ it’s hard to manage, especially for beginners.

How to manage water percentage is very important skill, it sends pizza to another level… you just need to know how to make it and some practice.

Chef Matteo Ferroni


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