Usually, without thinking about it, we just weigh the water, pour it into the bowl and add flour, leavening and salt and knead the dough. However, water is very important because, among other things, water acts as a nutrient for yeast and thus influences fermentation.
Water has a significant impact on the dough:
💧 It is absorbed into the flour proteins during swelling and this process can take place differently, also due to the quality of the water. That means water affects the quality of gluten.
💧 Water acts as a solvent, dissolving the water-soluble parts of flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
💧 Water affects the consistency of the dough and the speed of fermentation (soft dough ferments faster than firm dough);
💧 Water can be used to influence the temperature, the physical properties of the dough and the fermentation speed.
Water generally has a large number of mineral salts and can be soft, hard and medium hard.
✅ It is true that drinking water is usually medium hard and is best suited for baking. For example, filtered, bottled drinking water or even just tap water is ideal for sourdough.
❌ What type of water is definitely not good? Chlorinated water or other water that you are unsure about the quality of. Soft water with too little salt also results in a sticky dough. Such water feels a little slippery, but if you e.g. For example, if you try to soap your hands and wash it off, the soapy feeling won't go away until the water dries.
❌ Hard water differs from soft water with a high salt content, the dough with such water will turn out to be firmer, the gluten will be stronger, but its development and the swelling of wheat protein in general will be inhibited precisely because of the excess of salts.
✅ By the way: Not only normal drinking water can be used for bread, but also carbonated water! The purpose of sourdough yeast is to loosen the dough by filling it with carbon dioxide. This is what the yeast excretes and what (but not only) creates the pores in the bread and forms the crumb. So if you add carbonated water to the dough, there will be an additional addition of carbon dioxide, which usually has a very positive effect on the dough. So if you feel like experimenting, you can try baking the bread with carbonated water next time.
We wish you only the best water for your bread and of course lots of fun baking!