The Fresh Loaf

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Reinhart C&C Baker's Percentage question

ryeaskrye's picture

Reinhart C&C Baker's Percentage question

I am planning on mixing up P. Reinhart's SF Sourdough from C&C and have a silly question relating to Baker's Percentages.

I have a spreadsheet set up that I use to convert recipe's to grams and scale it to my needs. In that spreadsheet, I breakout the starter into its flour and water content to figure hydration percentages. I also figure Baker's Percentages. My Baker's Percentages do not match up with Reinhart's because his are based solely on the main flour ingredient in the final dough and he does not account for the flour in the firm starter, whereas I do.

Since the primary purpose of Baker's Percentages are to speed weighing out of ingredients when creating the final dough, I guess it is easier for a baker to follow his percentages. It's just that when I first looked at the recipe, I was immediately struck by the thought that 2.8% Salt sounded like a lot until I realized it was only 1.75% when all flour is taken into account.

Not that it is any big deal or changes anything – just a minor mental thorn for overly anal people like myself – but which approach is correct? 


davidm's picture

John, I have no clue which is 'correct'. Quite possibly neither, or perhaps both.

But like you I prefer a BP that accounts for the whole thing, preferments and all. For some reason I get  clearer picture of what to expect and it's also easier (for me anyway) to compare formulas, one dough with another. I also play with different preferments, sometimes poolish, sometimes biga etc. within a single dough formula, just for the joy of experimenting, and this is much easier to compute with a BP of the total content.

In BBA he explains both approaches and lists the advantages and disadvantages of both, but his rationale for adopting the version of baker's percentage that he uses in his book makes no sense to me at all. Which is a statement about how my mind works more than anything else. I can see though that if I were making bread all day every day, and had both biga and poolish etc in the fridge in bulk, then it would be easier Peter's way, which is maybe why he does it.

As they say in New Mexico - "Cada chango a su columpio."

(each monkey to his swing) :)