The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need Help Scaling Recipe

typecase's picture

Need Help Scaling Recipe


I'm new to the forum. I did a search on this but didn't find what I needed so I hope you can help. I hope this is the right forum.

For a while, I've been a fan of a local bakery's  cornmeal rye bread. It uses a sourdough starter. I was such a big fan I started making a clone of it at home and it turned out great but I still felt it never replicated their recipe. One day I was chatting to the manager and told him how much I love the bread and showed him photos of my clone he just photocopied this daily check recipe for me. Awesome, right?! Just use bakers percent and scale it down, right? I thought to myself excitedly when driving home, so thrilled I was practically hopping. When I started the process, that's when I ran into trouble. It turns out they soak the cornmeal first to make a slurry. Do I count the cornmeal as a 'flour' in the bakers percent?

It seemed like too much trouble to do it that way, so I simply scaled the big batch recipe down, dividing everything by the same number to get the amount of dough I needed. The results were awful. The dough was too wet and even when I attempted to bake it, it was a too salty, and didn't have a nice big crumb.

My questions are: 1) how can I scale this using bakers percent since they use 2 flours and a cornmeal slurry.
2) Why doesn't simple scaling work?

I really would like to bake this at home, especially since the manager was nice enough to share the recipe.


Here's the recipe: 

81.88 LBS of bread flour

115.6 LBS of corn meal slurry  ( Cornmeal 25 LBS, Water 58.25LBS)

34.40 LBS of Rye Flour

2.5 LBS Salt

35.46 LBS of starter dough (levain)

20.87 LBS of water

7.49 LBS of Honey

Any help greatly appreciated



BobS's picture

Perhaps you could 'show your math'?


Floydm's picture

Yeah... Why not just change the units to grams and multiply by 10?  So 81.88 pounds becomes 818.8 grams, 25 LB of Cornmeal becomes 250 grams, etc?  That'd make two or three nice sized loaves.

Once that was done if wanted to go further and come up with the baker's percentages, I'm sure you could.  Um... I don't think I'd include the corn meal in the baker's percentage, but others may disagree.

Antilope's picture

The hydration and salt percent look ok: 

Cornmeal Rye Bread

Baker's Percent

48.53% .....81.88 LBS of Bread Flour
20.39%..... 34.40 LBS of Rye Flour
20.57% ......34.7 LBS Cornmeal for slurry* *
10.51%..... 17.73 LBS Starter Flour (Levain) * * *
100% .........168.71 LBS Total Flour

47.95%...... 80.9 LBS Cornmeal Slurry Water * *
12.37% ......20.87 LBS of Water
10.51% .....17.73 LBS Starter Water (Levain) * * *
70.83% .....119.5 LBS Total Water

4.44%......... 7.49 LBS of Honey
1.48% .........2.5 LBS Salt


115.6 LBS of Cornmeal Slurry ( Cornmeal 25 LBS, Water 58.25 LBS - [slurry formula 30% / 70%]) * *

Amount of slurry used - 115.6 lbs - 100(Cornmeal 34.7  LBS - 30%,  Water  80.9 LBS Water - 70%)* *

35.46 LBS of Starter Dough (Levain) (Starter Flour 17.73 LBS, Starter Water  17.73 LBS100% hydration?  * * *


Cornmeal Rye Bread

2 lb loaf = 907 g

260g Bread Flour
109g Rye Flour
110g Cornmeal for slurry* *
56g Starter Flour (Levain) * * *
535g Total Flour 

257g Cornmeal Slurry Water * *
66g Water
56g Starter Water (Levain) * * *
372g Total Water 

24g Honey
8g Salt

367g cornmeal slurry - 110g Cornmeal for slurry - 257g Cornmeal Slurry Water

112g Starter (Levain) - 56g Starter Flour - 56g Starter Water

typecase's picture

BobS, here's what I did to make my recipe: I added up the weight of the individual ingredients (298.2) and divided that amount by the target prebake loaf size: 3.5LB and got 85.2,  and then divided every ingredient by that same 85.2. (not sure if those numbers are accurate as I just now added it by hand but that's the idea. I used a spreadsheet so that would try to minimize  math errors)

The dough was way wetter than it should have been. The dough they had at that bakery didn't look that wet as it was easily formed by hand. Mine was like a very high hydration dough. Sticky, didn't form well. Very unlike the original.

I assumed that simply scaling  the recipe must not work, but it sounds like it can and bakers percentage calculations are optional?

Antilope, thanks for explaining your calculations and taking the time to help me out. I'm not sure what the hydration percentage of the levain (starter dough) is (I believe it is 1:3 water to flour). When I was taught bakers percent, it was always treated as a separate ingredient from the dry flour. I usually feed my levain by mixing an equal weight of water and a double weight of flour.  

Is there a universal agreement on bakers percent? By reading the above it sound like perhaps not but does this make a difference in most recipes?





Antilope's picture

but if you want to figure salt for the flour, rye, cornmeal and starter, I don't see how else you would do it. 1.5% to 2.0% is the range you want salt to be. Hydration of 70% is a wet dough, but I would think it is in the proper range. 20% starter looks good as a portion of the entire recipe. A starter hydration of 100% is a pancake batter-like pourable consistency. 

Everything in the Baker's percentage looks good to me. I'm tempted to try it out and make a 2 lb loaf.

Look at the Recipe Table in this recipe to see how ingredients are accounted for and come together: (scroll down a little to see recipe table )


BobS's picture

typecase, your scaling approach makes sense, and it looks like the original formula should not produce a really wet dough. So I think you have a error in math, transcription, or measurement. I do this all the time. So I think you need to double check the math and transcription and try the loaf one more time.

Baker's math is extremely useful, but there are different ways of calculating it. For example in this thread FloydM thinks he would leave the corn meal out of the 'flour' but Antilope puts it into the calculation. Both of these are valid approaches, as long as one understands which system is being used. So right now I'd leave it out and stick to plain scaling to get your bread going. Then you can put in in baker's percentages according to the system you use for reference, and for better understanding of the characteristics of the dough.

Here a a few more things to think about:

The original formula says '115.6 LBS of corn meal slurry  ( Cornmeal 25 LBS, Water 58.25LBS)'. Is the second part of that line supposed to specify the cornmeal/water ratio? Or is it the actual amount?

Is the slurry soaked overnight or cooked?

Is the hydration of your starter the same as that of the bakery? (It looks like yours is 50% and theirs is 30%)?

Anyway, check your math, measure carefully and make it again. It looks like a pretty good bread.


typecase's picture


Yes, the slurry is cormeal and water soaked overnight. The ratio for the slurry is the one stated in the parenthesis.


BobS's picture

Seems kinda wet, no? At least compared to the cornmeal soaker for the Anadama bread below...

Antilope's picture


Antilope's picture

If you take the 58.25 LB of the soaker water and subtract 25 LB of cornmeal, you get 33.25, which just happens to be 133% of the cornmeal.  Maybe it should be 100 to 133 like the Reinhart formula for the Cornmeal soaker.

Antilope's picture

Peter Reinhart's Anadama Bread
from Bread Baker's Apprentice
Anadama Bread..............%
Bread flour..................100
Instant yeast.................1.1
In the style of Peter Reinhart in the Bread Baker's Apprentice
Cornmeal Rye Bread ....%
Water...........................233 (possibly should be 133?)
Total.............................333 (possibly should be 233?)
Bread Flour................70.4
Rye Flour....................29.6
Cornmeal Soaker......99.4
Sourdough Starter....30.5

JacquelineColussi's picture

Hi typecase. No doubt, you came to the right forum for this question! :-)

Do I count the cornmeal as a 'flour' in the bakers percent?

Some bakers do, some don't. It's personal preference. We can calculate the baker's percentages for both cases--that is, counting cornmeal as flour, versus not counting cornmeal as flour--and compare the formulas. Thanks for clarifying that 25 lbs cornmeal to 58.25 lbs water is the slurry ratio; in other words, 100% cornmeal to 233% water.

Starter hydration aside (since that's an unknown), here are the baker's percentages for your formula, counting cornmeal as flour:


And the same formula, not counting cornmeal as flour:

In both formulas, hydration and salt are in reasonable ranges for bread that uses a cornmeal soaker. My personal preference would be the latter formula, as it better reflects my thinking when making a bread such as this: In a basic lean dough, I would use 1.8% salt. With the addition of soaked grain (such as corn), I would up the salt to 2-2.25%. Also, you suggested that the loaf from your local bakery has a "nice big crumb," which tells me that we're after a high-hydration formula, and it's nice to see that expectation reflected in the formula.

If you'd like to bake from this formula, here it is scaled to a home-baking weight of 750 grams:


To your question:

Is there a universal agreement on bakers percent?

In 2009, professional bread bakers Abram Faber, Craig Ponsford and Jeffrey Yankellow from the Bread Bakers Guild of America set out to develop a standard format for bread formulas, and they published their work in this article. BreadStorm takes much inspiration from this work and allows bakers to create and use formulas in a standard format without doing any math.

Come back with more questions, if you like. And please let us know how the next loaf turns out.


BobS's picture


That's a very good explanation of the different ways to approach baker's percentages. It's also worth noting that typecase's 'simple scaling' should have yielded an equivalent result. Here's my math for a simple linear scale of the recipe using the method typecase described. The 'scale to 750' yields agrees with Jaqueline's; I've also included a scale to 3.5 Lbs. Typecase, do these numbers agree with yours?


 pounds gramsscaled to 750 gscaled to 3.5 lboz
 81.88bread flour37173.52205.90.96102127906374315.38
Total298.2035947 135384.4319938750.03.556
DavidEF's picture


In the case of scaling a known good formula, you shouldn't even need to consider hydration percent. It's already figured into the formula, and known to work. Simple math would work best, since the ingredients are already listed by weight. I would recommend you turn everything into smaller units, such as ounces, or even grams, as Floyd suggested. The smaller the unit, the easier it will be to scale, because there will be fewer partial units (decimal places) to worry about. If you only want to scale it once to a specific size, your way should work well enough.

But, to have the most freedom, and really see how the ingredients work together, I would scale it down to the smallest possible amount, even if it is less than a loaf. That becomes your overall formula "unit". Then it can be scaled back up by multiplying that number times the number of "units" you need. For instance, if your "unit" ends up being 3oz of dough, that is the smallest amount of dough you can make easily. Then, you can see that making a pound of dough would be risky, because dividing a "unit" would introduce slop and errors. You could make 15oz or 18oz easily by multiplying by 5 or 6, respectively. If you needed 16oz, you would make 48oz and divide it three ways after mixing.

P.S. The amount of cornmeal slurry you listed is greater than the amount of cornmeal and water going into it?

typecase's picture

 Wow. Thanks for the great responses.

Jacqueline, your explanation was easy to understand and well considered. Thanks for the clarification. That breadstorm software looks impressive!

BobS, those numbers agree with my 3.5LB batch. I feel comforted that working backward from the bakers percentage (by Jacqueline) gives the same amounts as the scaling. Thanks for working that out.

DavidEF, that's exactly what I thought. Since this is the original recipe, I thought I was golden. Yes, I realize the slurry amount is more. The formula for the slurry was also given to me by the bakery so I assumed they must mix the amount they need to the same ratio.

I'm probably going to have to reattempt the recipe and see what the results are. I tried twice before and both times ended up with a wetter dough than expected. I wonder if the soak time has an effect. This time I'll triple check everything because with all your reassurance, I should in theory be able to produce my desired bread. 







Antilope's picture

do you use for the cornmeal soak? Many recipes will use boiling water, that may help the cornmeal to be more absorbent.

BobS's picture

Curiosity got the better of me, so I made a single 750g loaf using the scaled proportions above. I used Bob's Red Mill coarse corn meal (polenta), KA bread flour and Hodgson's mill rye. I used a 100% hydration white bread flour levain.

I started the levain build and poured boiling water over the corn meal to make the slurry. I let both sit, the levain at 78 degrees, the slurry at room temperature (60's) for 14 hours.

I combined all the ingredients except the salt to a rough mix, then let it autolyse 40 minutes.

The dough was pretty wet, confirming typecast's experience, and I let it knead with the dough hook in my Kitchenaid, speed 3 for 10 minutes. There was not much, if any gluten development.

I let it bulk ferment at 78 degrees for 3 hours, folding three times, then shaped into a boule. The dough was still quite wet, but shapable.

I let the dough retard for another 14 hours in the fridge, then baked at 460 with steam, then 400 convection without steam, leaving it in the oven for 7 minutes with the door open at the end.

It looks okay:

Cornmeal Rye 1

Cornmeal Rye 2

I got  pretty fair oven spring; the loaf was pretty flat when it went in. It would have been better if I slashed properly. The crumb is open and a little spongy; it reminds me of Portuguese Pão de Milho.

While it's possible to make this bread I wonder if the dough has to be that wet. In particular I don't understand why it uses a slurry, which is so wet even after 14 hours that it poured out of its container like sand at the beach. Usually one tries to make a soaker hydration-neutral, so it neither adds nor removes water from the dough. Putting all that water into the slurry reduces the ability to manage the hydration.

The last thing I added to the dough was the water; before that it looked pretty good, but IMHO adding the water sent the dough into the twilight zone.

Next time I make this bread (and I will - it's good) I think I will use maybe 120% rather than 233% water in the slurry (which should turn it into more of a soaker) and manage the hydration by adjusting the amount of water. It might be that simply changing the slurry hydration is enough.

So typecast, it ain't just you. Thanks for sharing this with us.

typecase's picture


BobS, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Your loaves look beautiful! I didn't achieve that much oven spring when I tried it the first time. 

I, too tried it again this weekend but mixed the slurry amount to the same weight called for in the scaled down recipe but used less water and more cornmeal (1:1.33 ratio as Antilope suggested). I thought the dough was much more like I expected it to be. Baked up, it was just as delicious as I remember it.  As to why they mix their slurry with so much water? Not sure. I will try to ask again when I'm at the bakery. 

Thanks again for trying it. Your attractive loaves, even when working with the wetter dough, are inspiring. 

Antilope's picture

Concerning the Cornmeal slurry:

Just thinking out loud.

Some of the ingredients and weights listed in original recipe:

81.88 LBS of bread flour
34.40 LBS of Rye Flour

116.28 LBS - let's call that 100% for the Baker's Percent.


99.4% - 115.6 LBS Cornmeal Slurry, that' almost 100% of the combined flour weight.

If you scale the slurry at 1.33 to 1, as in the Reinhart recipe:

25.00 LBS (100) Cornmeal (probably comes in that size bag purchased by the bakery)
33.25 LBS (133) Boiling Water
Add the two numbers above and you get 58.25 LBS (233)

58.25 LBS (233) - That number appers in the original recipe. Probably the combined weight of Cornmeal and Water for the slurry when mixed from one bag of cornmeal.

Double the Cornmeal slurry (using two 25-LB bags of Cornmeal and 66.5 LBS water) and you get very close to the 115.6 LBS of Cornmeal slurry used in the original recipe. (Could the 115.6 LBS be a typo and they really meant 116.5 LBS which agrees with the above figures?)

The Cornmeal slurry numbers seem to make sense to me when figured this way.

BobS's picture

That makes sense to me too, antilope.



BobS's picture

That was fun, typecase,

It's a pretty good bread, especially the day after baking, when the flavors are more developed.

typecase's picture

Just to follow up on this; I went to the original bakery and explained the issues I was having with the wet dough. They sold me some of their cornmeal, which is ground differently and the using the scaling and the cormeal ratio 2.33:1 in the origina recipe, the bread turned out beautifully. It turned out to be the cornmeal all along. When using something like Aunt Jemima cormeal, the recipe needs adjustment to 1.33:1 but using their cornmeal it turns out great. Strange. Never knew grind could make such a difference.

BobS's picture

Coincidentally I was making this bread again when I saw your update. It's really good. 

i wonder what's different about the grind. Coarser or finer than what you were using? Did you see the label?


typecase's picture

I was wondering the same thing. To me it looks finer but I thought I heard them say it was coarser. No label as they apparently get it milled for them from the same mill that supplies their flour. They took it out a big tub and sold it to me a plain white paper bag.

When mixed with water though, it sets up much faster than the Aunt Jemima I was using previously becomes sort of gelatinous (not sure how to describe it).