The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can i ask another silly/novice question

GRNutrition's picture

Can i ask another silly/novice question

Hi everyone.


Very helpful forum here.


I would like to know the answer to this please, i'd like to bake my own bread, and think it would be good to know how to do it.


If for example, i wanted to make a 300g loaf of French bread, how do i go about making sure the quantities are correct in the recipe, so that the end product ends up as 300g?


Is there some form of formula you use or some percentages which will result in the bread being 'x' grams?


Any information would be great.


Thanks again.

LindyD's picture

Many of the baker's here use baker's percentage to make such determinations.

Here's a link to the King Arthur Page explaining the math

Or, check out Wild Yeast's tutorial, which is in four parts (link is to first part).

You're going to need a scale, if you don't already have one.

Chuck's picture

Is there some form of formula you use or some percentages which will result in the bread being 'x' grams?

Not exactly  ...reasonably close though.

One way is to start by adding up all the weights of all the ingredients (the flour, the water, etc. etc.) and dividing by the number of loaves the recipe makes. (You can figure all this out just from the recipe with no oddball calculations nor rules of thumb at all least so long as you don't consider "addition" to be "oddball":-) Then subtract some proportion for "shrinkage" (moisture that escapes during baking in the oven and so forth).

Thing is, the "shrinkage" proportion is a little different for different kinds of bread, different ovens, different levels of doneness, different procedures, different climates and elevations, etc. (What you consider "done" typically matters the most.) To get any given kind of loaf exactly right, you'll have to guess, bake it, weigh the finished product, adjust your guess, and do it again.

I suggest as a starting guess a "shrinkage" of 10% (so the final loaf weighs 90%) of the weight of the ingredients. (This first guess is often "close enough" to get you what you want without repeating the cycle.)

flournwater's picture

That's the best technique I've found too.

GRNutrition's picture

Thanks for the replies - the percentages dont add up to 100% though - i dont really understand from that link how i would go about it.


For example, the scenario, say i wanted to make some form of French bread which weighed 250g. How would i go about it, i.e. if i were to use flour, water, yeast and salt, what amounts would i 'roughly' need?


If someone could help with that then i may be able to get my head around the percentages a little more - at the moment it doesnt seem to be sinking in.


Thanks again for your all your help everyone.

intelplatoon's picture

i bake sourdough at roughly 75% hydration + or - a few, and bake in hot wood fired ovens. what goes into the oven weighs 1.75 lbs and what comes out is usually about 1.5 lbs. which if my math is correct is 14% of the total loaf weight.

GRNutrition's picture

Sorry im none the wiser with the weights/percentages if i wanted to make a 250g bread for example - i think i must be missing something somewhere - surely the maths cannot be that difficult for 4 ingredients like flour, yeast, water and salt.

Jaydot's picture

As LindyD already said, to figure out the weight of ingredients you need, you have to know the bakers percentages for the recipe of your choice.

The bakers percentage system puts the weight of the flour (all of it, if you use different kinds) at 100% and expresses all other ingredients as a percentage of the weight of the flour. That's why the total comes out higher than 100%.
I use a spreadsheet to recalculate amounts, example here (works the same way when you use just flour, yeast, water, salt as it does when you use many more ingredients). If you like, I'd be happy to share it with you.

Chuck's picture

What probably reasonably seems to be just one question to you is usually treated as two separate steps:

  1. Knowing what size I want the finished loaves to be, how much flour should I use?

  2. Knowing how much flour I should put in the recipe, how much of each of the other ingredients do I need?

The second is usually done straightforwardly with "baker's percentages" (or just following a preset recipe).

The first though is done using any one of a wide variety of methods, including:

  • "just know"

  • do it the same as last time

  • trust and follow what the recipe says

  • use a spreadsheet to make a computer do the detailed calculations

  • use a rough rule of thumb

  • take a guess, follow it all the way through question #2, then revise the guess and try again; keep cycling until it's about right

Although the calculations don't require a "math whiz", they're too long and detailed for most folks to keep straight. Hence calculating this is usually left to a spreadsheet.

If you want to just use a very rough rule of thumb, here's one: For a given desired final loaf weight, use two-thirds that much flour, then calculate all the other ingredients from the recipe's baker's percentages. For example, to produce a finished loaf that weighs 250 grams, very roughly plug 166 grams of flour into the baker's percentages.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The long way:  Lets look at the recipe:

  • flour is 100%  (or 1.00)

  • water is 75% (or .75)   you did say 75% hydration, correct?

  • salt is 2% (or 0.02

  • yeast (Depends on what you want to do) lets just say 1% (or 0.01)

Total is 178%  Yikes!  but don't panic....

Now lets give those ingredients some weight:  (notice I multiplied by 100 or dropped the %)

  • flour 100g

  • water 75g

  • salt 2g

  • yeast 1g

total: 178g  That's ok if we want 178g of dough before baking.  Gosh it's not near 250g!  So what are we going to do? We know if we just double everything (x2) it will be too much so our answer lies somewhere between.

Let's go on with the play number of finished loaf  250g (end weight of french stick) + 14% (for evaporation) = (gives us) 285g of needed dough. (I used a calculator 250 + 14%  =)   The relationship is... 100g is to 178g of total dough weight as (=)  'n' is to 285g of total dough weight.   Then cross multiply and divide both sides by 178 to get 'n' (the number desired)

100/178 = n/285    (285x100/178 = n or 160g flour)

75/178 = n/285   (285x75/178 = n or 120g water)

2/178= n/285    (285x2/178 = n or 3.2g salt ) or (160+2%= 3.2g salt)

1.6g yeast  (1% is half of 2%, spare me!) or (285/178 = 1.6g yeast)

Total  160 +120+3.2 +1.6 = 284,8g   Tah dah!  It checks out!   :)

The easy method:

Others will see that all that needs to be done is multiply the recipe % by 1.6 and get the same results.  1.6 x 100% = 160g  and so on.  Yes but we didn't know 160g of flour until it was figured out! 

This 1.6 can also be obtained by simply taking the total dough weight desired and dividing it by the total % in the recipe   285/178 = 1.6   now go back to the recipe and multiply each ingredient % by 1.6    Tah dah!  :)...   <that's a smiley snow man) 



GRNutrition's picture

Ahhh brilliant!


I see.


Thank you for putting it into 'laymans' terms, really appreciate it!


I can use those figures to make my first bread, which i will make sometime this week!