80% Hydration Dough – Much More Than Pizza

It’s a high tech business baking. A battered bowl and a bent spatula are still the most important tools in my batterie de cuisine.

I know 80% hydration is hardly adventurous given the ludicrously high hydrations used by some modern bakers. But I don’t want to compete and this is a really useful, all-round dough. Plus you don’t even have to get your hands sticky.

This is my standard pizza dough but I always make more than I need and what’s left over can be used for all sorts of other shapes: buns, baguettes, Turkish pide, focaccia and other flat breads. After being mixed it goes in the fridge and is fermented for at least 48 hours and can stay there for 3-4 days until I’m ready to use it. Beyond 4 days the gluten starts to break down which means the dough tears easily, has no strength to rise and the flavour becomes too strong.

Weigh out the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

The mixing and kneading follows my usual three short knead method but is all done in the bowl using a spatula.

Stir until the dough comes together and then do the equivalent of ten kneads by lifting the dough with the spatula and letting it fall back into the bowl under its own weight. After about 10 stretches let the mixture rest for a few minutes. Repeat the process two more times.

By the third set of kneads the dough will have become quite silky and coherent.

Scrape the dough into a well-oiled container. A shallow rectangular one is useful to help the dough retain its shape when it is eventually tipped out. Give the dough a couple of folds to tidy it up.

Place in the fridge for 48 hours.

When ready to use, set the oven to 250C. Remove the dough from the fridge and tip out onto a well-floured work surface as neatly as possible.

With floured hands fold in the edges, turn the whole thing over  (keeping to a floured area), and press out slightly into a neat rectangle of even thickness.

On this occasion I had scaled down the dough to 1200g to make two flatbreads and ten buns @ 100g each.

Precise weight isn’t important so I can mark out the dough into equal segments and, with a floured scraper, cut out individual pieces. These are loosely rounded with an air-fold, dropped onto a rye floured baking sheet and flattened gently. (I’m not going to apologise for the number of times I’ve said “floured”)

The final two pieces were pressed and stretched part way on an oiled pizza tin to be the flatbreads. The doughs are covered with tea towels and plastic while the oven comes up to heat.

Within 20 minutes the oven is up to 250C. The buns are lightly floured and dimpled with fingertips before going into the oven.

15 minutes later they are baked and cooling.

These buns are light, with a thin crust, an open crumb and great flavour. Plus they are ridiculously easy to make and can be baked from the fridge in the time it takes the oven to come up to temperature. Could be very useful to someone running a cafe/restaurant who doesn’t have extensive bakery skills and wants top quality bread virtually on demand.

Photo below to to compare the sizes of the buns and flat breads – both 100g.

The topping comes from a recipe in the Guardian by Ruby Tandoh – fresh figs and serrano with a coating of honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil (ratio 2:1:2).

Baked at 200C for 20-25 minutes.

Finally topped with a handful of rocket.

With the same dough you could make rustic baguettes:

Divide the dough weight by 200 and mark out that number of strips. Cut out the strips and lay them on a rye floured baking sheet giving them a little stretch as you do so.

Cover and rest for about ten minutes and stretch them to the required length.

When the oven is up to speed (250C), dimple the dough pieces before putting the tray in the oven.

After 15 minutes you will probably need to reduce the heat before giving the bread another 5-10 minutes.

(Even more) rustic buns – no shaping, just cut to size:

Burger buns (onions & burgers sold separately):

You can press them out as thin as you like.

You can even make pizza with this pizza dough:

A dough you can play around with to your hearts content …

… after you have sent me a little contribution via the link – paypal.me/partisanbaker