The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How I manage my recipe development / testing

the hadster's picture
the hadster

How I manage my recipe development / testing

It's taken me about 20 years to figure this out.  Probably longer, but hey, I'm still able to learn, right?

Anyway, I would find or create a recipe, print it out, make my notes along the way, and then promptly loose the pieces of paper with the recipe and notes.  Then I would reprint, try and remember what I'd done....

Then one day not too long ago, I was in Staples buying printer ink - mostly because I was reprinting recipes all of the time - and I happened to walk by the notebooks and an idea started to form.

I got sheet protectors and put my recipe in those.  I'd make my notes and then put the sheets back into the protectors, and they are in a notebook.

I've decided the notebook into 2 sections: "Under Development" and "Tried & True."

I have a Mac, and on it, I have a little program that I love "Mac Gourmet Plus."  Importing recipes from the web has gotten a bit cumbersome because the websites keep changing their formats, which means Mac Gourmet has to update, but they do a good job and are responsive.

Once a recipe makes it to the "Tried & True" side of the notebook, it goes into my recipe program.

Oh, and that recipe for Medovick (Russian Honey Cake) is amazing and I can forward it, or post it on this site, if anyone is interested.

The other thing I do, for bread, is use post-it notes and then save them and stick them on the recipe/method page in a book or the print out, which is now in my nifty notebook.  I write down times and so forth.  Why don't I write all that down on the recipe to begin with?  Because I have various things going at the same time, and sitting out on the counter doing this and that, and the paper with the recipe falls off and gets eaten by my dog, Kippy, whom I have a love/hate relationship with.  (When he eats my recipe print-outs, I really don't love him at all, not even a little bit. But then he looks at me with his brown eyes and brings me a stick or a sock, and then I have to love him again.)

I was reading in the various forums and found a post regarding an app development for bread and I got to thinking, and I decided to share my method.  As I said, I'm slow, but I'm learning!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

... as there are bakers! I have created my own spreadsheet-based app for bread recipes, based on Baker's percentage. I have a table that lists all the ingredients and calculates percentages (and hydration), and I can change the weight of the finished dough (per loaf) and the number of loaves I want to make.

When I'm happy with the recipe then I move it to another spreadsheet where I have a table for each kind of bread I make (scores of them!). This table shows the ingredient weights for 1, 2, 4 and 6 loaves, but I can change the number at the top of the column to find out the weights for any number of loaves (or change the final dough weight).

Then I have a recipe sheet for each kind of bread that has the table at the top of the page, and instructions at the bottom. These then go into page protectors and into my binder. Sometimes I have little notes stuck into the protector or sticky notes stuck on the pages.

BobBoule's picture

like my own process. I got tired of my wife's method, which is identical to The Hadster's method except it was her cat the ate the recipes, so I started creating spreadsheets almost as nice as yours. I then transfer the information to the spreadsheet app on my iPhone where I ave an upper section with a shopping list. Before I begin I check of that I have everything I need or else I go shopping. When I get home I uncheck everything on mu shopping list and then go over it again to set up my mise en place, ticking off the checkboxes as I go.


The lower half of the spreadsheet has each step by step instruction which I tick off as I complete. This is what got me to the point where I could make consistent loaves of bread and amazing cookies as well. One day I realized that what I really needed was just a checklist for the shopping and baking phases (i.e. I didn't need the spreadsheet for those two phases) so I moved them to the Notes app on my iPhone (which has a checklist functionality) and now my life is simple. The spreadsheet is the master source of information until I perfect my recipe then the two checklists are what I  use on a day to day basis to actually do my baking.

Its all a lot simpler than I'm making it seem and my recipes no longer mysteriously disappear into the dark faced void. I think this level of organization makes me a better baker, the baking process is a lot easier for me now as well as a lot more fun.