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Baker's Percentage Tutorial
Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:01 pmFood.com Groupie
(Mods, please consider making this tutorial a "sticky" so new members can access this valuable information easily)
A few years ago I wrote this tutorial to help new bread bakers to understand how professional bakers get repeatable results in their baking. The primary reason for repeatability is that all ingredients are weighed, not measured. Here's how it works.
Baker’s Percentages Revealed
Flour weights based on volumes are only approximations, and should not be taken as gospel. The flour weight is actually the main ingredient in your bread formula. Formula? Yes, professional bakers make batches of dough based on a formula, and that formula is derived from some basic math called "Baker's Percentages." In a nutshell, all ingredients in a bread formula are a percentage of the flour weight (the flour weight being 100%), and through some quick calculations, you can determine EXACTLY how much of each ingredient is required to make a batch of dough. If, for example, you wanted to make 10 loaves of French bread weighing 1.5# each, you would back into the formula using nothing more than division and multiplication on a basic calculator. It sounds complicated, but once you learn how to do it, you can look at a recipe from someone else, and be able to determine if the dough will be lean or slack based on the % of water or other liquid in the formula. You will also know if it will rise quickly or slowly by the % of yeast in the formula, and whether it will have good flavor based on the % of salt. Here’s a simple formula for plain white bread or French bread:
Flour = 100%
Salt = 2%
Instant yeast = 1%
Water = 59%
Total ingredients are 100 + 2 +1 + 59 = 162%
So if you just had 2# (32 oz.) of flour to work with to make bread, you would do the following math:
Salt is total flour weight x 2% or .02
32 x .02 = .64 oz. of salt
Instant yeast is total flour weight x 1% or .01
32 x .01 = .32 oz. of Instant yeast
Water is total flour weight x 59% or .59
32 x .59 = 18.88 oz of water.
Add them all together and you get:
32 + .64 + .32 + 18.88 = 51.84 oz of dough, that would make two loaves weighing 25.92 oz. each, or 1# 9.92 oz. each.
Now let's say you wanted two loaves of bread weighing 1# 8oz. each, for a total of 3# of finished dough (48 oz. of dough). You would do the following math to determine how much flour you needed:
Total flour =(Total dough weight divided by total percentage) x 100
(48 oz. ÷ 162) = .2963 x 100 = 29.63 oz
Now that you have your flour weight, just follow the percentage listed above.
Flour is 29.63 oz.
Salt is 29.63 x .02 = .59 oz.
Instant yeast is 29.63 x .01 = .30 oz.
Water is 29.63 x .59 = 17.48 oz.
29.63 + .59 + .30 + 17.48 = 48 oz of dough.
This comes in handy when you want to make something like hamburger rolls . If you need to make 20 hamburger rolls and want them to be 2.75 oz. each, do the following:
20 x 2.75 = 55 oz. of dough
Then take (55 oz ÷ 162) x 100 = 33.95 oz of flour. Then just multiply the salt, yeast and water by their percentage, and you will get a repeatable recipe every time. The percentages may vary a bit based on how a particular baker want their dough, but if someone gave you just the percentages of the ingredients in their formula, you could calculate the flour and all the other ingredients just from determining how much finished dough you wanted to have.
Red Apple Guy
Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:38 amForum Host
A great tutorial, Joe. The first time I read this (on your web site) was the first time I realized the total percentage was useful as you explain above.
I use baker's math just about every day, analyzing recipes and creating them as you also describe above. If someone has issues with a recipe, baker's math is the only method I've found to really analyze the recipe and spot ingredients that may be out of proportion.
I often take a recipe written in cups and teaspoons and convert to weight for the analysis. Your example above converted to volume would be 7 cups flour, 2 1/3 cup water, 3 tsp salt, 3 tsp yeast.
I use the follow approximate conversions:
flour: 1 cup = 4.5 oz, 128 g
Water: 1 cup = 8 oz, 227 g
table salt: 1 tsp = 6 g
inst yeast: 1 tsp = 3 g
Bonnie G #2
Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:14 amFood.com Groupie
Thanks, this is so helpful. It at least explains to me what everyone is talking about when they say high or low hydration. Still confused on the math - but then math ALWAYS confuses me Hope they will make this a sticky so it doesn't get lost and can be referred to again and again.
Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:40 pmForum Host
Bumping this because of recent interest.
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