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I've been baking Hallah of late from a high-precision recipe: weights and percentages provided for all ingredients. I store flour in the freezer. Typically, the dough comes out considerably stickier than intended. End result is OK, but process is messy. So, based on other reading, I assume that my chilly flour is busily absorbing atmospheric moisture. I'm wondering if anyone can offer a rule of thumb for how much water to subtract or flour to add to compensate for this effect over 795 grams of flour?

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No, it has nothing to do with atmospheric moisture. It is the temperature itself. You get much more gluten with cold dough, and it is also very sticky and inelastic. If this is the effect you want, continue doing it. In fact, some authors (e.g. Corriher) recommend making very high hydration doughs with substituting some of the water for crushed ice, to make them more manageable.

If you don't want this (and most recipes are developed for room temperature ingredients), then you can't get the standard condition of your dough except by using room temperature flour. If you don't mind the different gluten texture in the baked product, but want to make the dough less sticky so you can handle it better, you should be adding water, not removing it. This will dilute the dough, so it doesn't end up so tightly cramped. I can't give you a rule of thumb for how much, you'll have to decide for yourself what feels comfortable to you.

  • Interesting. I got the 'frozen flour hydroscopic' notion from another answer here. I think letting it warm up might be simplest. – bmargulies Oct 10 '14 at 11:32
  • I don't see why cold flour would be any more hygroscopic than flour at any other temperature. I can imagine water vapour from the air condensing on your cold flour but that's condensation, not hygroscopy. – David Richerby Oct 10 '14 at 15:32

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