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Different flours have different levels of humidity, or they absorb different amounts of water during mixing. It would be useful to be able to measure the dough humidity to judge the ratio of ingredients and avoid a failed batch.

This is especially useful when variations on the choice of flours are done, so that the "tested" formula does not apply anymore.

Are there cheap tools to do it?

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  • It's not just the characteristics of the grains/flours, but also the storage conditions. That's probably why % hydration, estimation, and "feel" are used more frequently. – moscafj Mar 31 at 13:21
  • I really don't think that dough humidity is going to make much of a difference, especially in home baking. – GdD Mar 31 at 13:33
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You don't need anything special, just a scale. Put a trivet, then a pan on a scale and tare it. Next, pour in a certain amount of flour, say 100 grams. After that heat the pan and therefore the flour up on the stove, which will evaporate the water, then re-weigh (that's why you have a trivet: you don't melt your scale). The difference between measurements will tell you the humidity of your flour.

I personally don't think there's much to be gained knowing this. Recipes are written accounting for water content in flour, they don't expect flour that's completely dry. I've baked a lot and I've never had a situation where the humidity of the flour has made a noticeable difference, especially when considering other environmental variations.

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Any flour is going to absorb humidity from the air. The more humid the air the more hydrated the flour. I don't believe two different flours in your home will absorb the humidity differently or will absorb a different amount of water in your mix. Whatever water you put in will be absorbed into whatever flour you use.

Humidity of the air, though, will definitely affect your bakes. If you purchase a hygrometer, which measures humidity in the air, you can keep tabs on your humidity level at different times of the years. These are relatively inexpensive devices. If the humidity is higher you probably need to extend your bake time a bit to compensate. As always, use your senses and tools like a toothpick to measure the doneness of your bake rather than just relying on timing.

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