The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I need help with a bread recipe I'm working on.

MarkS's picture

I need help with a bread recipe I'm working on.

I'm working on a hamburger bun recipe. I know, there are many available, but I'm using this as an excuse to teach myself baker's percentages.

What I'm trying to achieve is a soft bun with a high rise, light and airy crumb that tastes good and browns nicely. So far, my attempts have been less than successful. I can get a good rise, but the bread is dense, the crust is white and it doesn't have much flavor. I let it rise at room temperature for two hours prior to shaping and 1 1/2 hours before baking. It is mixed and kneaded in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

This is the formula I've come up with so far (the last time I've made it):

bread flour 600g 100%
water 300g 50%
milk 90g 15%
salt 12g 2%
instant yeast 12g 2%
buttermilk powder 12g 2%

This is probably the sixth variation I've done. I figure that the high hydration is causing some problems and it sure makes it harder to shape the buns, so I'm reducing it by 10%. I thought that the buttermilk would add flavor, but it did not, so I'm taking it out. I'm adding sugar for flavor and to aid the yeast. I also thought I'd try a long, slow rise, so I'm cutting the yeast by half and will let it proof for at least 12 hours.

What I'm left with is this:

bread flour 600g 100%
water 210g 35%
milk 120g 20%
salt 12g 2%
instant yeast 6g 1%
sugar 12g 2%

Will this help and what, if any, improvements can I do to achieve my goal? This is the first recipe I have ever tried to develop on my own, but I've been baking bread for more than a decade. I understand the basics, but this is new territory. Any help will be greatly appreciated.



nbicomputers's picture

your way out of balance

first of all no sugar which means no food for the yeast. it will eat what it can get from the flour and start to die. the dough will bake old. little color no rise and a sour (not in a good way) flavor. 

no fat  no lubracation for the gluten it will be a tough dough and want to pull back when shapping

no fat also means tough and dry in texture

also no eggs which also adds fat and mosture as wall as color the eggs and the fat will give you the soft crust you are looking for and also alow for oven spring as eggs are a natural levening.

try this

sugar 11.1 %
salt 1.7%

Milk Powder 3.7%
Fat 9.25%
Eggs 7.4%

Water 59.25%

Yeast 4.5% fresh cake

Bread Flour 12 percent proten  100%

MarkS's picture

Thanks for the reply. Still, it leaves me with more questions than answers. First, what is with the .xx% for each item? Why not whole percents? Second, 4.5% fresh cake yeast translates to how much instant? Third, why did you choose the percentages that you did? What would happen if I go higher or lower on any one?

I've been doing quite a bit of reading on this matter. While what I've read is informative, it is always lacking. Every reference I can find lists the optimal percentage range for each ingredient, but they never mention what to expect from your dough if you are on the high or low side of that range. What I'm looking for from this thread is guidance on how to formulate the recipe. I need to know what to expect if I use a larger percentage of an ingredient versus smaller. If the optimal range of yeast, for instance, is between .2% and 2.5%, what can I expect from each end of the range?

I do not expect to become and expert overnight, but I need to know how to get there from here. ;)

Thanks again,

mcs's picture

The percentages that look really exact usually just come about through experimentation.  For instance, in your 'what I'm left with' recipe, suppose I was making it and it seemed dry.  I would measure 100g of water in a pouring cup, then start pouring it into the mixing bowl as it was working.  I'd stop when it looks good, then measure how much was left.  So lets say I found that I added 26g of water to the recipe.  The new water percentage is 210+26=236g/600g=39.3% instead of a nice and tidy 35%. True, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between 39% and 39.3%, but I'd write it down like that anyway.  In this case the % won't come back to bite you, but with your yeast, 1% would be 6g (2tsp) and 1.5% would be 9g (3 tsp), which is 50% more yeast. 

Fresh yeast in grams/3=instant yeast in grams

When I see a recipe with exact percentages or amounts in grams, I'm guessing the recipe has been extensively tested and is 'just right'.  If you try it out and it needs to be adjusted because of your tastes or equipment/ingredients, then your percentages would change. 

My advice is to try out his exact recipe, then adjust accordingly.  If you think it's perfect, then his percentages become your baseline.  If you think it needs more salt or is too wet, record your changes, and your new percentages will become your new baseline.



Elagins's picture

Norm's the pro and his formula's right on, but I think you may want to reduce the yeast to 1% if you're using instant or active dry and let the rolls rise to full proof (nearly collapse when you poke them) before baking at 375 for 15 min or so. the trick here is to let the yeast do its work and not rush the proof. that way i think you'll get the texture and crust you're looking for.

nbicomputers's picture

active dry yeast is used 1/2 the amount of fresh because fresh yeast is mostly mosture.  the percent if dry yeast ether instant or active should be 2.2  but yeast is always adjustable depending on the temp of the shop (kitchen) or how fast you want the dough to rise

Elagins's picture

agreed. all yeast does, no matter how great the quantity, is to provide a mother colony that will multiply during the ferment and proof. more yeast and/or more nutrients (sugars) = faster rise b/c you're starting with a larger seed colony. Less yeast/sugar = slower rise b/c fewer starter cells mean a greater number of reproductive cycles in order to reach the quantity sufficient to produce the amount of CO2 you need for a good rise.

the virtues of less yeast at the start are mainly that a longer ferment/rise generally means that other helpful microorganisms (mainly lacto- and acetobacillus) and chemical processes (i.e., the enzymatic breakdown of starch into sugar) have a longer time in which to occur, leading to deeper flavor in your finished breads. which, by the way, is why Peter Reinhart, among others, is so fond of preferments.

this is also why it's important that your yeast be fresh. the fresher the yeast, the fewer dead yeast cells. so as a practical matter, 1% of fresh yeast can have greater leavening power than 3% of outdated yeast. so check your dates and keep your yeast refrigerated or frozen to retard deterioration.

jbaudo's picture

I have been making my own hamburger buns for some time and have had great success.  My husband who doesn't consider a meal complete without meat said that these buns put the hamburger patties to shame.  I don't know anything about percentages but you can take a look at the recipe that I use (I found it online) and either try it as is or use it to shape your recipe. The only changes that I make to the recipe are to substitue  honey for the sugar and extra virgin coconut oil for the butter.  I also use half whole wheat flour and bread flour for the AP.

1 Cup (240g/ml - 250g/ml) Water, lukewarm
2 Tbs (30g) Unsalted butter, at room temperature and creamed
1 Egg (~63g)
3 1/4 Cups (433g) Plain white flour
1/4 Cup (53g) Castor sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbs Instant yeast
1 Egg yolk (+ 1 Tsp water)
Sesame seeds

Here is the link to the full recipe:

Hope this helps.

Good luck, Jennifer

nbicomputers's picture

but it would take to long to type it.

the chemistry behind baking

what each ingredent does and how it interacts with the others.

what would the dough do if i added more fat or takaway the sugar.

i will offer you this i have a computer biz

get the contact number off the web site and give me a call when you have at least an hour to kill it will take that long or more to give you the basics of what you are asking. i can't make a better offer than that

MarkS's picture

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm ignoring this thread, but I'm not. One of my co-workers had a heart attack last week and needs a triple bypass. I've been working some crazy hours covering his shifts and it is only going to get worse. Needless to say, I have other things on my mind.

Still, I appreciate all of the replies so far and I hope this discussion continues. It will probably be a few weeks before I can actually start baking again, but in the mean time, I hope to learn something.

nbicomputers, I understand that I'm asking a lot. Still, there seems to be no resource on the net that I can find that has this kind of data. Maybe this thread can fill that void. I do not expect to learn everything overnight and am quite content learning from any bits and pieces posted. I'm hoping that you and others can posts those bits and pieces.

Thanks again,

rolls's picture

hope this thread continues coz this is exactly what i wanna know too.

recently learnt bout baker's percentages from the site:  maybe you could post ur query there also.


MarkS's picture

OK, using the suggestions in this thread, I reformulated the recipe. It is still mostly guesses concerning the proportions and why they work, but they certainly do!

Here is the updated recipe:

1050g - bread flour - 100%
495g - water, 80°F - 43.04%
50g - milk powder - 4.76%
50g - buttermilk powder - 4.76%
18g - yeast - 1.71%
18g - salt - 1.71%
90g - sugar - 8.57%
90g - eggs - 8.57%
90g - oil - 8.57%
6g - dough enhancer* - 0.57%

One egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp water.

All of the dry ingredients were mixed together in my KA and then the water, eggs and oil were added. I kneaded it in the mixer until the mixer couldn't handle it anymore and then kneaded it by hand for about 10 minutes. VERY little flour was needed for the kneading due to the dough's high oil content. I let it rise for two hours, punching down after one. The rolls then rose for one more hour after shaping.

The color, texture, smell, flavor and over spring are all that I wanted. The rolls are soft, but with structure and a soft crust and do not taste or smell like fermented yeast. :D Yeah!

I can probably cut back on the oil content. The buns were a little "wet", but still, not bad at all. It really is amazing how much something weighs, especially when you're used to measuring it in a cup.

Now the million dollar question... Why did it work?
The two million dollar question... What can be improved?

* The dough enhancer was added because I was actually able to find it and wanted to try it. As to its actual effects on the recipe... I'll have to wait until I make it again and not add it.