Trying out some baking formulas from a French boulanger site, I've had mixed results with wet doughs. Known as eau de bassinage, it literally means to bathe, moisten or add water. Having trouble managing them, I queried some baker friends. Susan of Wild Yeast gave me this definition of bassinage:
"Well, as I understand it, eau de bassinage is water that is held back initially, then added if needed to make the dough the proper consistency. This is how they teach it at SFBI (although not called that), and yes, I think the consistency of the dough is most important. Better to adjust dough consistency with water than with flour!"
With a seeded baguette, no problem! But with a high extraction baguette, I had flat, unmanageable dough, flavorful but aesthetically ugly. On the next effort I tried to go for the feel rather than simply follow the formula. The last bread I tried is called "Triticum," and for this I left out the eau de bassinage, judging that it was adequately hydrated.
As my baker friend Vincent Talleu joked, "maybe French flour is stronger?" Maybe. Flours behave differently in various places, from milling to flour types and proteins. For me, it's still a trial by fire. Or, in this case, trial by water. It'll tell you if it's thirsty!