Hard or Soft Water Effects on Baking
Have you ever followed a recipe to a “T” and still not had it turn out correctly? Several years ago, we had a customer contact us with many questions about our pizza crust dough. She had watched the tutorial on our website, but the dough she made never looked like ours. We had her give us a video of her baking and the dough. There was indeed something off, but we initially didn’t know why. We had gone through all of our troubleshooting questions: oven temperature/is it correct, altitude, humid or dry climate, measuring by weight or spoon/cup, etc. All of that was taken into account and she still had the same outcome. All of a sudden, a lightbulb went on for me. It had to be hard water; her dough always turned out very thick. She lived in an apartment complex and asked the facility staff if they had hard water. Sure enough, they did.
Not long after this, our family moved to Utah from Seattle and learned first hand what baking with hard water was like. Most of the homes in the area we live in Utah have hard water. To combat this, many people choose to install a water softener because hard water isn’t good for appliances and pipes. This was a perfect time to shoot a simple video on how to overcome hard water (and soft water) in baking. I had both coming out of our pipes, so I thought I might as well use it for a visual to show you all. Going from having hard water to soft water from a water softener swings the baking challenges from one end of the spectrum to the other.
In very simple terms, using hard water will make your baked goods “hard”. It will cause your dough and batters to be thicker and denser, creating a heavier outcome. Soft water will make your baked goods “softer”. Your doughs and batters will be thinner making it difficult to shape breads or rolls, and can cause your baked goods to sink after baking.
So what do you do if you have either hard or soft water?? The answer is so simple! Use bottled water. While this may not be super convenient, it works and is inexpensive. Keeping several bottles of water is easy to do and then you always have it handy when you need to bake. Bottled water is the correct balance of minerals to ensure your baking is correct. Who knew the fix could be so simple!
If you ever have questions or trouble baking, PLEASE ask us all of your questions! We are here to help you be the best free from baker you can be. If we don’t know an answer, we will find it for you. Leave the experimenting to us so you don’t have to waste your time and money. We work tirelessly to ensure our mixes work for those that don’t like to bake all the way to avid bakers. Did you know what we have a test baking team and they all live in different climates and elevations? We did that very specifically to ensure all of our mixes work well in every climate and elevation. All of our product pages have tips on how to bake in different climates and elevations. We try to be as thorough as we can with directions and tips for our recipes.
Check out below how vastly different the waters behave. Each of the experiments have the same amount of water and flour, the only difference is the type of water used. We are very visual learners here so we hope this is helpful for you as well!