5 Influencers of Water Absorption

5 influencers of water absorption

So here’s the thing with dry ingredients: they absorb the wet ones. It’s kind of the point of mixing dough. Yet as with most aspects of baking, and life for that matter, there’s SO much more complexity involved.

The amount of water absorption hinges on what ingredients you’re mixing, and the desired amount will be different based on the final product.

So what influences water absorption?

  • Starch: About 46% of the total water absorbed is associated with the starch.
  • Proteins: About 31% of the total water absorbed is associated with the proteins.
  • Pentosans: About 23 % of the total water absorbed is associated with the pentosans.
  • Vital wheat gluten (VWG): When added to the formula, it will increase the water absorption and impart greater stability to the dough.
  • Other water binding ingredients like fiber, eggs, bran and hydrocolloids (gums).

Why does water absorption matter?

Because absorption corresponds to the hydration of your dough. If not properly hydrated, you’ll see issues with consistency, texture, quality, shelf life,  machinability, volume…pretty much everything.

farinograph is usually used and can provide an approximate value for water absorption.

The test is based first on the determination of the optimal amount of water to achieve a consistent  Brabender Unit value or BU. The amount of water required to produce this consistency is the water absorption of a flour. The analysis of the typical farinograph curve yields important quality parameters such as:

  • Arrival time to first achieve 500 BU
  • Optimum mix time, also called dough development time
  • Departure time
  • Mixing Tolerance Index
  • Dough stability

About the Author:

Lin Carson, PhD
Dr. Lin Carson’s love affair with baking started over 25 years ago when she earned her BSc degree in Food Science & Technology at the Ohio State University. She went on to earn her MSc then PhD from the Department of Grain Science at Kansas State University. Seeing that technical information was not freely shared in the baking industry, Dr. Lin decided to launch BAKERpedia to cover this gap. Today, as the world’s only FREE and comprehensive online technical resource for the commercial baking industry, BAKERpedia is used by over half a million commercial bakers, ingredient sellers, equipment suppliers and baking entrepreneurs annually. You can catch Dr. Lin regularly on the BAKED In Science podcast solving baking problems. For more information on Dr. Lin, subscribe to her "Ask Dr. Lin" YouTube Channel, or follow her on LinkedIn.


  1. Deepak May 21, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    When we use gum in our formulation we noticed that v though water absorpttion goes up rate of staling also increase. Products becomes hard and crumbly. How can that be avoided

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