City water switched

Our city switched from getting out water from detroit, to pulling it from the local main river Grrr…
since the switch, I dont think Im imagining this but seems as though my dough texture has changed, my dough used to be light airy & crispy around the crust, now it seems blah & dense…


You can get a water hardness report from the county I believe

Even if I did get it. Im thinking they wouldn’t care what I think or what their test results are, Im just 1 person.

Wondering if I should change to purified, distilled water. Of course as it is now, I dont pay for my water, my landlord does, so if I bought purified or distilled, it would add to cost ??

There are machines which can turn water soft. Grimaldi’s was faced with this problem when they expanded their stores across the country and it was no longer easy to get New York water for their dough. At each new store they open they examine the water profile and then run it through a filtering device which takes away chemicals/minerals and adds some back to match the water in Brooklyn. Probably also softens or hardens accordingly. If you get the profile you can know how much it would take to change the quality back to what you had before.

Alternatively, @Tom Lehmann may have some advice on how to tweak your dough.

I was thinking of just putting a filter system on my faucet, that is the only cheapest thing I can think of. Thanks for advice

I covered this exact topic in one of my articles (In Lehmann’s Terms / Archives). Save yourself a bundle, the only difference in “potable” water that really makes a difference is the difference in hardness. If your dough has been formulated for hard water and now you are using soft water it can result in a softer than normal feeling dough causing you to reduce the dough absorption as a corrective measure, this is where the finished product begins to suffer. What to do???
Go to your local pharmacy and buy some calcium sulfate. Add it to your dough at the rate of 0.25% of your total flour weight. Just add the calcium sulfate right into your flour and begin mixing, no special or complicated incorporation. What does it do?
Calcium sulfate provides the calcium necessary to tighten the gluten (calcium ion effect upon wheat proteins) so as far as the dough is concerned it was made with hard water. If this works for you, you can buy calcium sulfate (possibly the cheapest ingredient available) from any Bakery Ingredient supplier. Bakers use it all the time for this very function. They used to use mineral yeast food (calcium sulfate is the main ingredient) but once they learned that all the other stuff added to MYF wasn’t necessary, they just switched to using food grade calcium sulfate.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom: Im not sure, but it does seem that our water is alot harder than normal, as I said our water came from Detroit, NOW it is coming from our local river and the water seems harder than normal, so by me buying calcium sulfate my dough will get better ??, as stated my dough before was light airy & crispy, NOW its dense & dull

I have no idea about the hardness/softness of the Detroit water you were getting, but as was mentioned, the municipality providing the water will give you the necessary data on water hardness/softness. I’m guessing that your dough might have been developed with softer water than you now have available, hence the increased calcium content of the water is creating a tighter, stronger dough than you previously had. The test for this is to increase the absorption of your dough by 2% and see if that gives you an improvement. There is also one other aspect of the water that you need to look at for comparison of what you previously had to what you now have and that is water pH. Again, your municipality supplying the water can give you that information. You want to look for a water pH as close to neutral (7.0) as possible. If the water is below 7.0 it is considered to be acid which is good for your dough as yeast likes an acid environment, but if the pH is above 7.0 it is said to be alkaline (yeast does not do well in an alkaline environment), so you would need to add an acid to your dough to correct the alkaline condition of the water. The most commonly used food acid used to treat this condition is monocalcium phosphate (MCP). This is readily available from most distributors supplying the baking industry. The amount to use will vary with the pH of the water. Here in Manhattan, Kansas our water is in the 8.0 to 8.2 range (quite alkaline) and we correct for this be adding 0.25% MCP to all of our doughs. MCP is a dry, white powder, and you just add it to the flour when you begin mixing. You might check around with some of the local bakeries to see if they have some that they can share with you for testing. If you do this, keep in mind that it may also be referred to as “acid type yeast food”, while the two are not the same, the acid component of the acid type yeast food is MCP, with this product you might want to start at a level of 0.375% of the total flour weight.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom, well after much searching, neither one of these things are available, I called 5 bakeries, not one of them know anything about them, I also called the local water department, looked up their report online and no where on the report does it state anything about PH levels, was wondering if one of those test kits that you buy at a local pool place, they have test strips that have a PH level on them, wondering if that test is the same ??.

My only other alternative is to do what you suggested was to increase my water by 2% and see if that helps…

I checked my PH level yesterday it is at 6.8. Just feels like our PH (water) is higher than that, feels very hard. Wondering if our calcium or lime would have anything to do with that?? So I will increase my absorption up 2% and see how that goes

Your water is slightly acid, and that is good for you, means you don’t need to add any MCP or acid type yeast food. What did the water quality report say about grains of hardness?
Please let me know how the dough and crust turn out with the increased absorption.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom, , the report does not say anything about hardness, only talks about contaminants Grrr…

Anyway I increased my water absorption rate, the dough seems to be back to normal THANKS