The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does anyone use bakers percentages?

enchant's picture
enchant

Does anyone use bakers percentages?

I'm new to bread baking, but I've been making pizza for quite a while and have participated in the discussions on pizzamaking.com for a dozen years.  With rare exceptions, when a recipe is given there, they use bakers percentages - 100% bread flour, 62% water, 2% suger, 0.4% yeast, etc.

I think this method makes a lot of sense for a few reasons, I'm seeing very little of that over here.  Glancing through a dozen or so of the recipes under the recipes tab, a couple use (or at least include) weights, but the vast majority use a cup of this and a tablespoon of that.

Are bakers percentages uncommon in the bread baking world?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Such as cups... is the North American way. More often than not we Europeans (and I include the UK in this) go by weight - grams. Bakers Percentages are quite common here as obviously its easier for those who think in weight to convert from bakers percentages.

nugaton's picture
nugaton

Every serious baker uses baker's %

enchant's picture
enchant

Several years back, my brother gave me his cranberry bread recipe, and I make it often.  One time he gave me a slice of his, and I noticed that it was definitely denser and dryer.  At some point later on, I was at his house while he created a loaf.  When he measured out the flour, he dug down deep and came up with a densely packed cup.  I always fluffed up my flour and basically let it fall into the measuring cup.  Turns out he was using a LOT more flour than I was, even though we were both using "2 1/2 cups".

I especially like using gram weights and bakers percentages because it's so much easier to scale down a recipe.  If I want the recipe to be a little smaller, I don't have to measure out 5/8 Tbsp of something.

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

Most yeasted/sourdough bread recipes will be written exclusively in weight.  Much like enchant has illustrated for us, not everyone is working with the same definition of "cup," while we are all obliged to adhere slavishly to the universal definition of "gram." If I tell you to weigh out 500 grams of flour, and I also weigh out 500 grams of flour, we will have the same quantity ; thus, my recipe (or formula) will be transmissible. On the other hand, if I tell you to fetch me a cup of flour, and I fetch also a cup of flour, I seriously doubt we will have the same amount of flour. Sure, there is the wisdom that a cup of flour is not too tightly packed and flattened out with the back of a knife, but not everyone is playing by the same rules. With weight (or mass, rather), we can be assured to all be working with the same quantities and you won't get an overdry cake and blame me for it.

That being said, obviously there is enough variation between ingredients on a regional level, that even weight cannot guarantee perfect results across the board. You will tell me that the best pizza dough is made with a certain type of flour at a certain hydration . . . and perhaps you're working with some amazing Canadian wheat that can carry its own weight in water, while I'm working with a weak peasant French wheat that starts crying when spritzed to a merely 50% hydration. Same goes for salt -- some salts are "saltier" than others. (Perhaps someone can explain this better than I can).

Short answer to your question : YES, weights are common in the baking world, so common that I would say that volumes strike me as bizarre.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

The other great advantage of having the bakers percentage is being able to scale up or down a dough size to produce a given amount of dough.

For example if you had a dough formula with the bakers percentage showing 

flour 100%

salt 2%

butter 2% 

yeast 1%

water 70%

the total percentage would then be 175% so if you wanted to produce 2.5kgs of dough then 2500g  = 175% therefore 1% would be 14.2857g so round that up to14.3g 

your ingredients would then be 

flour 1430g  (100 X 14.3)

salt 28.6g   (2 X 14.3)

butter 28.6g  (2 X 14.3)

yeast 14.3g  (1 X 14.3)

water 1072.5g  (70 X 14.3)

total dough weight produced would be 2574g slightly more than the 2500 as we rounded up 0.015g and most of us don't have scales that measure 0.1 of a gram although they are available on ebay for about $10 Australian delivered if you like to play with small doughs.

Regards Derek

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Good formula

I work in bakers percentages but have never done step two.

Thank you!

 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

You are welcome,  its just another stage in being able to produce  X amount of dough for any given Formula and not have to much waste or not quite enough dough for a particular order and can mean the difference between profit breakeven or loss.

kind regards Derek

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I bake for a small market and shop, and a subscription list. All of my recipes are in spreadsheets using baker's percentage with tables indicating all ingredients (by weight) for 1, 2, 4 or 6 loaves. I can enter any number of loaves in the appropriate cell and all ingredient weights will immediately recalculate. I can also easily change the hydration percentage of a recipe to see how it turns out. If I find a recipe using volume, I recalculate it in grams.

Jane Dough's picture
Jane Dough

That would be my question.  I have seen very few creations on this site that do not give Baker's %.  

enchant's picture
enchant

Quote:
Does anyone here NOT use Bakers %?

Are you kidding me?  The "Recipes" page has over fifty recipes and not a single bakers percentage.  I tried searching for "italian bread recipe" in the forum and DID find one that used percentages, but another dozen that did not.  One actually gave the hydration percentage, but the salt/sugar/yeast/oil, etc., were all in teaspoons.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Hi enchant,

You are quite correct that the breads under "Recipes" are mostly in cups, etc.  If you look at the date of those entries they are all from 2005 & 2006, during the infancy of TFL.  They seem to be a vestige left over from bygone days.

 However, if you peruse entries for breads from any "recent" period by one of our contributors, you will by and large find that measurements in cups and teaspoons pulled up stakes and left town long ago.  I'm not saying that you won't still find some out there from recent entries, but they are now few and far between.  People recognized the imprecision of measurements not in metric and abandoned them. For the better.  

Welcome to TFL.  It's a fun place to while away the time and get great ideas and help from the local Loafians.

alan

enchant's picture
enchant

Quote:
However, if you peruse entries for breads from any "recent" period by one of our contributors

I'm sorry for being so ignorant about this, but can you tell me how you accomplish this?  Where do you "peruse entries for breads", and how do you filter by dates and/or contributors?  The only search function I can see is the simple single-field search function to the right of the main navigation.  This returns results not only from every forum, every date and every author, but also from the rest of the site - blogs and whatnot.  I've tried searching several times and have come up with nothing useful, and only a scant few recipes (and non with bakers percentages).

alfanso's picture
alfanso

but you can still sift through results.  However, most hits won't have the formula (recipe), as the purpose of many posts are to ask questions about or broadcast results.

For example I keyed in Hamelman Olive Levain, as that is what I have on tap for myself to mix today.  The results came back with 17 pages of hits.  So if I were looking for something specific, good luck on that one :-( .  The more criteria you can place into your search, the better your chances for a hit that satisfies you.

When I googled Hamelman Olive Levain The Fresh Loaf the search was much faster and it also gave me results from outside of TFL.

There is also an "Advanced Search" with allows some filtering.  It is located on the Search Results page in the upper left, just below the Search Box.

Happy Hunting!

enchant's picture
enchant

That's a good tip to use Google as the search engine.  I'm finding that searches I do within thefreshloaf are often painfully slow.  This is lousy for me because I hate to wait, but I also figure I'm probably hammering the server with all my searches and making it that much slower for everyone else.  Let me go that route and thanks for the info.

enchant's picture
enchant

Thanks for the info, alan.  I'm just heading out now, but first thing tomorrow, I'll try doing as you suggested.  I've just started looking through the website and forums, and there's a ton that I haven't seen.  I'll need to learn how to dig past the old stuff and get to the inner goodies.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

I love to see a dough formula written up showing the weights of ingredients used and the bakers percentage alongside  its great to be able to check that it is correct or within accepted parameters. It is especially useful when someone might be asking what's wrong with my bread.

drogon's picture
drogon

Here is an example from my spreadsheet

 

Buckfastleigh Sourdough (large)Qty
   6
Flour100.0%5003000
Wholemeal20.0%100600
White80.0%4002400
Starter30.0%150900
Water57.0%2851710
Salt1.5%845
Yeast0.0%00
Total 9435655
    
Tot. Flour 5753450
Tot. Water 3602160
% Hydration 63 

 

I've never really used bakers percentages when scaling basic recipes though - if I want 2 loaves, I just double the quantities, etc. so it doesn't really give me any advantage there, but people seem to use it and there are books with it in, so I teach it to people when they come from bread classes, etc. (but don't when I'm running other courses where bread is just a small part of it all - e.g. making flat breads for the BBQ)

I'm actually in the process of re-writing this as a computer program rather than a spreadsheet - trying to cut down on my paperwork if nothing else...

-Gordon

enchant's picture
enchant

I find that scaling works well especially for pizza dough.  I'll have a recipe that gives the correct amount for a 12" pizza, but now I want to make a 14" pizza.  All of the ingredients will have to be scaled up, but possibly by an odd amount, like 35% more.

drogon's picture
drogon

It doesn't make any difference which way you do it - to scale a recipe up to 35% more, you just multiply each ingredient by 1.35.

So - say the recipe calls for

flour 100%

water 62% (of the flour weight. ie. "bakers percentage")

yeast 2%

salt 2%

and you make a 12" pizza (or small loaf) with 200g of flour (just making it up here), so the recipe is

flour: 200g

water: 124g (200 * 62 / 100)

salt & yeast 4g

and you now want 35% more, so multiply the flour by 1.35 to get 35% more = 270g flour. Then work out the water - 62% of 270 is 167.4 and 2% of 270 is 5.4 for both the yeast & salt.

But multiplying each ingredient by 1.35 gives: flour - we already have that at 270g, water: 124g *1.35 = 167.4 and salt+yeast: 4 * 1.35 = 5.4.

So no matter which way you do it, the numbers come out the same, so you can scale any recipe that's given in weight (g or oz) by simply multiplying all the ingredients by the same amount. Cake recipes I tend to scale based on number of eggs... (or knowing that a medium egg weighs 50g when needing intermediate values)

The important things for me is knowing the  %hydration in the final recipe. Everything else can be worked out - in reverse if needed.

A calculation I sometimes need is working out the flour for a recipe - e.g. say I'm asked to bake 60 rolls. I know that I scale the rolls at 90g each and that my favourite recipe uses 62% hydration. How much flour? total dough is 90 * 60 = 5400g. Flour is 5400/1.62 = 3333, water is 5400 - 3333 = 2067. (Check that 2067/3333*100 = 62%: Yes.)

Salt - well, it's 7 to 8g for each 500g flour, so 3333/500 = 7, so 7 lots of 7-8g is about 55g. Dried yeast is about the same as salt, or double for wet yeast, round the numbers a bit to make lazy weight easy, and you get:

3340g flour, 2070 water, 55g salt, 55g dried yeast, mix, knead, ferment, shape, proof, bake.

Rounding plus the yeast & salt give a little more dough, so you get a bakers bonus.

To go back to our original bakers percentage recipe - with flour at 3340g, water is 3340*0.62 = 2070, salt: 3340 * 0.02 = 66g, yeast the same. So our reverse calculations gave a little less yeast and salt which in the real world at these quantities isn't going to matter at all. (But in this case we didn't know how much flour to start with for 60 rolls!)

Simples ;-)

Going back to pizza - area of a 12" pizza is 113 square inches, area of a 14" pizza is 154 sq in. The ratio is 1.36, so yes, a 14" pizza is 35% (or a tiny shade more) more than a 12" pizza. The secret sauce is knowing how much flour (or dough weight) for a 12" pizza...

The arithmetic gets slightly more involved when you want to take sourdough into account, but that's some fun for another day...

-Gordon

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

123 Sourdough  124
   Grams
Ingredient  75015003000
   371.29742.571485.15
Bread flour27592%3406811361
Whole Spelt flour258%3162124
Water20067%248495990
Starter10033%124248495
Salt62%71530
 606202%75015003000
Maverick's picture
Maverick

The problem is that there is no indication that the starter is at 100% hydration. Also, there is nothing that indicates the final hydration after adding the starter. I am sure this is fine for your use, but when sharing such formulas, it is nice to have all the information. Mine is probably too complex in that manner, but once it was set up, everything falls into place easily. It allows me to convert to different hydrated pre-ferments/starters (or convert to/from sourdough). Here is what mine looks like:

Product1-2-3 Sourdough    
        
IngredientsBaker's % (Straight Dough) Sraight Dough Weight Pre-Ferment (Optional) Adjusted Dough Weight
Bread Flour100%->438-63=375
Water71.4%->313-63=250
Salt2%->8.8- =8.8
Instant Yeast -> - = 
        
% Pre-Ferment Flour14.3% Pre-Ferment Hydration100%Pre-Ferment
Weight
125
        
 Percentage Sum Batch Weight   Adj. Dough Wt.
 173% 759 = 759

I am pretty sure I got this general worksheet from Dan DiMuzio. Keep in mind, that there can also be more than one pre-ferment, or multiple flours, plus other ingredients as well.

Edit: As you can see, the actual hydration is 71.4% which is much wetter than I would think from looking at yours. Plus the salt is based on total flour, but yours still has salt within normal range ... just not 2%.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

... my spreadsheet is also used to calculate total hydration based on the hydration of the starter (which is usually 100%). I simply didn't copy the whole thing when I posted the example, as I wasn't posting it for someone else to use. My apologies if that was misleading.

Maverick's picture
Maverick

Well, that makes sense. I was just trying to make suggestions. Glad you have things set up that way.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

One of the things I found most useful when starting out was the baker's percentage tutorial on King Arthur Flour. It helped me set up my spreadsheets.

BobBoule's picture
BobBoule

is a leftover method dating back to when Europeans immigrated to the Americas in droves. Ship's passage was nearly prohibitive so to get to the new world, large and heavy objects had to be left behind. Also left behind was the  habit of measuring by weight because the large and/or heavy scales had been led behind. That is why families converted to using their teacups to measure ingredients and is why each family had unique measurements, because they commonly had different sized cups compared to their neighbors.

The commercial industry had converted to using weighing as their primary method of measurement many years ago but its only been in more recent years that home bakers started buying scales and weighing their ingredients.

As more home bakers convert recipes to weight based measurements, it seems that the success rate of baked good dramatically improves. I for one went from being unable to bake a loaf that was recognizable as bread to now creating artisan loaves that my neighbors beg me to bake for them.

More and more recipes here on TFL are weight based now, to the point where I just don't remember seeing one that was volume based. Check out the section with the forum's favorite recipes and I believe you'll find that they are all now weight based.

_vk's picture
_vk

Google can be used to search for content in  any site. The syntax is like:

basic sourdough recipe site:thefreshloaf.com

This is gonna search only TFL for provided search criteria. From there you can use any google tools in your search. It can be done in any site.

The important thing is: a space before the keyword "site" no spaces between "site" the colon and the site URL

search criteria site:siteURL.com

no need for "http" stuff

:)

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I hadn't seen that one before so I am definitely adding this to my bag of tricks!