The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tracking recipe changes and experimentation

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

Tracking recipe changes and experimentation

How do you track your changes to recipes and the results? I am beginning to compile quite the collection of printed recipe pages with handwritten calculations all over them. I'm also making substitutions, many of which aren't being recorded anywhere. How am I supposed to avoid bad results and reproduce good results if I'm not tracking all of this?

I have so far been rather surprised at the lack of existing solutions for this. Google is failing me, bigtime.

So what do *you* use?

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

It has the date, the ingredients, the timing and my notes for future reference. I also print a picture and tape it in the book. I am in my second book. 

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

As much as I enjoy my fountain pens, I'm trying to digitize everything. I guess I need to just fire up a spreadsheet to track all the adjustments and results. Or maybe a database...

By the way, your recipe is very intimidating! So many odd grams and unique flours!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

so I am surprised myself that I am using pen and paper. And keeping a diary is not the type of thing I do even though I was forced to keep a book of notes as a school administrator. 

As to the recipe, I basically follow a formula that ends up giving me a hydration of somewhere between 75-78% for the most part and makes 3 loaves. 

I want my loaves to end up between 650-700 g cooked so I played around with various amounts and 1100 g total flour seemed to work well for that. 

So gross amounts are: 

1100 g total flour including what is in the levain

858 g of water which is flexible depending on the add-ins and includes the water in the levain. 

266 g of 80% levain (148g flour and 118 g water). This gives me 13% prefermented flour which works well for retardation overnight in the fridge 

22g salt (2% of total flour)

150 g dry weight add-ins

So i break it down like this:

266 g of levain has 148 g of flour so the remaining flour is 952 grams. So I decided that the flour ratio would be 550 g of unbleached flour and 402 g of a combo of whole grain flour. I get to play with the different flours in the second portion. As well, my levain is mostly rye flour with a bit of unbleached so my loaves have a pretty high percentage of whole grains. 

In the levain, there is 118 g of water so I need to put at least 740 g of water in the main dough. I often use part of this 740 g water to soak the add-ins and I also replace 30 g of the water with local yogurt or Kefir as I really like the crust it gives. And one more thing is that I hold back 30-50 g of water to adjust the feel of the dough when I mix in my salt and levain. If the dough is too dry, I add that extra bit of water and more if needed, but if I add it right away, I can't remove it if it makes the dough too wet. 

The add-ins are sometimes a bit of a guess. Some dont need soaking so that makes it easy, but the ones that absorb a lot of water ... that's where my bread diary comes in handy. I look back to see how much water I used to soak the add-ins ans whether there is a note about the dough being too wet. So I can gauge how much more water over my base amount of 740 g I will need. I always err on the side of less because I can always add water later. 

The levain and the salt are always the same so that is easy. 

Oops, I didn't mean to write a book... this all fits on one page in my diary. The only thing is that every recipe involves a lot of math and me double checking that I have my amounts right. But it is a small price to pay when I see the smiles of my friends when they come to pick up their loaf on Sunday afternoon or when I drop off the 3 loaves on Monday at one of the local soup kitchens. 

Hopefully, now you understand why I have odd amounts. As to the ingredients, that is all Dabrownman's fault. He kept posting such delicious breads with incredible things in them that I had to start experimenting too!

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

Spreadsheet to work out quantities based on BBG one posted here awhile  back and a spiral notebook with on the day comments - trick is to remember to write from printed spreadsheet notes to the notebook but this is so important as it tracks any dramas or changes, temperatures etc as I go.  And I do often refer back to an earlier one and use those notes.

I too had lots of papers everywhere but this works much better and you can find stuff. This years modification is an index at the front with date and what made.

good luck you find what works best for you

happy baking

Leslie 

Seapetal's picture
Seapetal

There are a number of digital options for keeping track of things.  There are several personal and professional apps and computer programs for organizing recipes, Mastercook and Paprika are 2 I can think of off the top of my head.

Personally, I use OneNote because I can organize all my recipes well, add notes beside the existing recipe without de the original content, and I can access it from all my devices so I always have my recipes and can always add notes. 

Norcalbaker's picture
Norcalbaker

The problem with an iPad and computer is you have to have it on, you have to have it next to you in the kitchen, you have to have clean hands, you have to be diligent in keeping flour and water from spilling on it.  

I like my notebooks because they are cheap, handy, and a cloud of flour isn't going to destroy it.  

when I'm working on a recipe, I note the date and the experiment number at the top of the page.  The bottom will have my notes on prep, bake, texture, flavor.  I note what I think I should change/include on the next test.  When I finally love the results, I boldly note that at the top of the page.  I then copy the final recipe into my "keeper" notebook. My keeper notebooks are 3-ring binders with plastic sleeves. The recipe page is slipped into the plastic sleeve; when doing big bakes, like on holidays when I'll bake 5-6 different goods, I pull out the sleeved recipes, tape them to the kitchen cabinets over my work area, along with a detailed prep and bake schedule.

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

I do, I really do. I've attempted to fire up a bullet journal and turn it into some sort of commonplace book. After a few months the only thing I keep up is a weight log. My life isn't that exciting, evidently.

I also understand the ease of pen and paper for quick notes in the kitchen. However, what I most often need is to do some sort of conversion and/or calculation. Also, paper and pen is *very* susceptible to smearing and running, or just being stained in general. 

But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about tracking everything *outside* of the kitchen, comparing different revisions of a recipe and the results. Using these to produce yet another revision. I don't anticipate making last-second changes while in the middle of things in the kitchen. Once I get started, I'll already know my ingredients and weights and temperatures and substitutions. I just need that master database to use for tracking and planning.

I like OneNote for collecting recipes, but I don't think it will work for some of what I am thinking about here. I guess I should keep searching...

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

or solution but you will find that as you get more familiar with what your dough should feel like, you will be making in the fly adjustments. I actually plan out my recipe on a note pad and do all my messy calculations there. Then once I have a pretty good idea of what I am doing, then I write it in my bread book but I also scribble in there any changes made as I go along. I think you are still going to get stuck using some form of pencil and paper for part of the process. 

So knowing you still want this electronmic version, I did a search. No idea what these are like but you can explore. 

http://brockwell-bake.org.uk/calculate.php

http://www.breadstorm.com/breadstorming.html

http://ruhlman.com/2011/02/bread-baking-basics-app-for-ipad/

http://www.sourdoughbreadrecipe.com.au/bread-boss/announcing-bread-boss-the-android-app/

Hope this helps!

 

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

I appreciate your help. Unfortunately, I think I may be mis-communicating what I'm looking for. That android app looks very nice, though :)

Seapetal's picture
Seapetal

I also use Excel for formulas I use often.  While it is a bit of a learning curve to set up the excel calculations, I have many recipes where I can punch in how big I want loaves or rolls to be and then how many I want to make and it will calculate the formula and starter quantities for me.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/49843/bbga-formula-sheet .

It won't track changes but once you build the spreadsheets, it can "easily" be modified.

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

So this thread has forced me to clarify what I'm looking for. I still think it should be in a database, but for now I'll use a spreadsheet to demonstrate. Something like this...CLICK HERE to see it in a readable size

Bread tracker

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

I really like AirTable - laid out three original recipes and my initial attempts at making them, complete with revisions, photos, URL's and comments. I am using the free version. If I invite people we can both get credits, although I'm not sure what I'd use them for. So I guess you could message me if you are interested. Otherwise I am a very happy camper right now. They also have a mobile app which I will download shortly so I can see how that might help when actually working on a recipe in the kitchen...

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I haven't downloaded loaded it yet but please keep us up to date on how it works for you. If you end up with a cool template, I certainly would be interested in it it. 

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

I'm just beginning to toy with all of the options, but one of my recipes looks like this as of now (on AirTable)

zKon's picture
zKon

It's the perfect recipe development app. Runs on android check it out here. It costs, but is well worth it (same as a loaf of good bread ;)

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

I like the way the app looks. Is there any way to access the data on a PC after it is entered? I would hate being trapped on just one device/platform...

phaz's picture
phaz

A spreadsheet app would work well. You can add formulas, notes, pics, whatever. Something like Google sheets - accessible from any device (with an internet connection that is) and can hold hundreds of recipes (consider each sheet in a workbook as a recipe). Set formulas on 1 sheet then copy/paste as need for new sheets/recipes. You won't get the full functionality as real MS excel, but it should suit your needs as formulas are simple and there's lots of rom for other stuff. If running Android, try Andropen office - closest thing to MS office out there right now, and the price is right - free. I was going to do something like this myself, but flying by the well worn seat of my pants is more fun for me. 

zKon's picture
zKon

I'm working on the iPhone version at the moment and plan to have a print function in both after that. The file format is json (you can email recipes to yourself or others to share them on other devices (android at the moment)). However it would take a bit to make sense of it in another app or excel or some other program that doesn't have the algorithm.

The reason for using a mobile device is that you want the alarms with you at all times: so you hear it and know what is coming. If another major phone platform came out then I'd probably create a version for that. My friend worked for MS and was always hassling for a windows phone version - but that will have to wait and see what MS does in the mobile sphere.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

but found them both lacking.  For 5 years I have now been posting each of my bakes on TFL and  using bakers percents to record the recipe and enough prose to explain what I did and why if necessary.  Then I created a Word document that links all of the posts onto one document that I can search to find what ever I am looking for fairly easily and way better than paper or spreadsheets by a wide margin.  Now there are over 500 different posts and breads with their recipes in one document and I use TFL as my massiive cloud storage - prose with pictures that are easy to find - if you put the important things in the title of the post and linked to the spreadsheet..

dixongexpat's picture
dixongexpat

When push came to shove, I ended up going back to Excel. It was just a lot faster to add extra flour columns or rows, change up ingredients, etc.