## Understanding Peter Reinhart’s Baker’s Percentage formulas for bread.

On December 13,2013 I gave up on trying to understand the way Peter Reinhart presents his Baker´s Percentage calculations for breads with a “soaker” or a “sponge”in his book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” and posted here a plea for help ( http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/36175/bakers-percentage-long-and-ardous-calculations). Richard of “oregoncrepe” picked up the challenge and kindly offered an explanation. But it still wasn’t clear enough for me because I am not very good at math. Being a firm believer in the advantages of using the Baker’s Percentage I kept thinking about the problem, and now I have solved it.

As an example let’s take Reinhart’s Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire. He presents the Baker’s Percentage for the bread as follows (__the way the formula is laid out in the book is important because it helps create confusion__):

Page 189

Baker’s Percentage Formula

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire %

SOAKER

Cornmeal 50

Rolled Oats 37.5

Wheat bran 12.5

Water 100

-----------------------------------------------------

Total 200

DOUGH

Soaker 29.6

High-gluten flour 100

Brown sugar 11.1

Salt 2.8

Instant yeast 2.4

Brown rice 7.4

Honey 7.4

Buttermilk 29.6

Water 44.4

______________________________________

Total 234.7

To abbreviate the solution:

__Start__ with the Baker’s Percentage of the dough. Forget temporarily about the soaker.. Once you know how much soaker you need, apply to it Reinhart’s “soaker’s” formula.

Case solved.

I have no idea if this is right, wrong, etc., but am saving the info. I, also, didn't excel in Math, and as you know we need to use it almost every day. Wish I had better teachers way back then to help me out. As it was, after 9th grade you no longer needed to take it, so I dropped it. Wish I hadn't, and wish that wasn't possible to do so.

Yes, ibor, that'd sort of be the way I'd begin the calculation, too, because the baker's percentage counts the amount of flour as 100%, and all of the other ingredients are relative to the amount of flour. There is no flour in the soaker. Because only the dough has flour, you'd begin your calculation there, and then calculate the amounts of the soaker ingredients relative to the amount of flour used in the dough part of the formula. It'd be exactly the same if he just had one list of all of the ingredients together, without separating the list into "soaker" and "dough". I would have preferred that he used grams rather than ounces, myself, then the arithmetic is a tiny bit easier.

There are baker's scales that will do the math for you. You just measure out your flour first to set the 100%, and it'll do the rest.

Yes, everything is relative to the amount of flour in the final dough. I find this way of doing it much easier to calculate than the method in Hamelman's bread book where everything

includingthe soaker is factored into the percentages for the overall formula, but he doesn't give the percentages for the final dough like Reinhart does. I suppose Hamelman's method give a better sense of what texture of dough to expect because the overall hydration will be more accurate, but Reinhart's way is nice because it makes it simpler to figure out how much levain or soaker you actually need. I agree with you though that it is a bit confusing to put the amounts for the soaker first.