December 17, 2017 - 9:21am

## Hamelman Baker’s Percentages

hi there! I have been trying to get through hamelman’s bread book but I’m having a lot, a LOT of trouble with his baking percentages.

The issue I have is that he doesn’t give you the percentage of pre-fermented dough you need to mix in. It does say the amount of pre-ferment at the upper right hand corner, but why isn’t it listed in the formula? For example, the Vermont Sourdough:

Overall formula

Bread flour-90%

whole rye flour-10%

water-65%

Salt-1.9%

liquid levain build

bread flour -100%

water-125%

mature starter 20%

final dough- Every ingredient. Is. In. Weight. Not. Percentages.

Looks like you and another TFL poster are looking for similar answers.

See this post. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54589/bakers-percentage

I assume the Hamelman book you are using is called, “Bread”. What page is the formula/recipe on?

Dan

Page 152, Vermont Sourdough

Just have to understand how to read it. Try to relate what is below back to his formula page, and it should all start to come together. He's very consistent and normalizes all of these formulae to 10kg of total flour. Everything then works off of that.

That’s not in the book, though. And further, the pre-fermented dough is not 15% by your calculation, it’s three. So which is it?

Starter is used to build the levain. The starter is 30g. That 3% represents the amount of starter used in the overall formula: 30g is 3% of 1000g - all percentages in baker's math is based on the total flour percentage - which is always 100%. It is calculated in neither the baker's percentage total of 166.9, nor in the total dough weight of 1670g. It is there because that is the percent of starter that remains after the levain is built in the 2 stages.

The difference between the 367.7g total weight of the levain build and the amount of levain used in the final dough (337.7g) is 30g. That 30g is used to build the next day's levain (which is how it landed here - today is yesterday's next day). Read 2/3 down the right column on pg. 151 (starting with "The weight of...) to understand this.

It is merely a marker in the formula to represent a component without being included in the actual baker's percentage or the total dough weight.

Now, the 15% is the Pre-fermented Flour, not prefermented dough, referenced in the upper right. The Total Flour column in the Levain build is 150g of flour. That 15% indeed represents the Total Prefermented Flour (150g = 15% of 1000g).

You were mixing apples and oranges. My math skills are still stuck at the grade school level, but building a spreadsheet for any formula, like this, is invaluable to me. And therefore, it can help even a numbers-challenged person like myself.

Alan, for some reason I find this method difficult to comprehend. Taking this post into account it seems I am not the only one. I’m not saying that it is not right. If it’s good for Hamelman it has to be correct. I realize that the formula is taking into account an additional 30g for the next day’s bake.

But to my sense of common sense it is not obvious. To show 30g of starter and the not add that into the Total Dough weight at the bottom of the column is the part that confuses me whenever I forget that fact.

If I baked the same formula daily, requiring the extra 30g for the next day bake then everything would fall into place.

Hopefully I don’t forget this the next time this aging brains undertakes a new Hamelman formula.

;-)Thanks for taking the time to once again explain this to those of us that don’t get it.

Dan

I do add the line for the starter which is not included in either the total baker's percentage nor the TDW. But if you look at the way the it is described on pg. 151, it is always going to be an extra piece of the pie, so to speak.

Somewhere along the line the starter must come from somewhere. So Joe Blow creates a starter for his nascent bakery. But he doesn't want to use it all up building the levain for the first day's mix. Because then JB must go through the pains of creating another starter from scratch. Okay, okay, I know in the real world we keep perhaps a few hundred extra grams around for our build and then do refreshes on that.

But being the purists that we pretend to be, we keep only enough of the starter leftover to propagate the levain our bakery will use in tomorrow's bake. And this is the approach that Mr. Hamelman takes in these formulae. Reserve (exactly) enough from today to use later in the day for your 2 stage build of levain for tomorrow. Like it or not, we are relying here on the author's formula and the way he states it. And now here we are with no extra reserve of another i.e. 500g of starter to futz around with at our leisure because we are abiding by Mr. Hamelman's formula. We are an operative bakery and biznez is biznez, so let's get to work.

Before we go further perhaps review this description from the other day on starter vs. levain.

So, a question is how do we comprehend, how do we identify and state that there is a starter incorporated in the formula and then pretend that it really isn't there? Well, we can't ignore it. It's a component of the process. So we can't make believe it isn't there.

One way to look at it is that it is that the starter Joe Blow created the week before he went into business is indestructible, one of those matter can neither be... In that case he uses the starter to build his two stage levain. And when he's done, that very same starter somehow pops out of the levain as though it was never there in the first place - it did its job, is done and goes back to being a starter again.

Well, we are astute enough to know that isn't what happens. So again, how the heck do we annotate the existence of the starter? I've decided to use the final row of the ingredients list to identify its existence. To state that that 20% of the pre-fermented flour weight is to be the starter, as Mr.Hamelman wishes for me to do. That 20% doesn't seem to align with the fact that a few columns to the left it is 3%. What the heck, man!

Well, the 20% (30g) relates to the amount of pre-fermented flour in the levain only. But to the left that same 30g is listed as 3%. well the 30g / 3% goes under the same restrictions as the 30g / 20% does to the right. It represents 3% of the total flour within the column where it resides - in this case, the entire formula mix.

Okay, maybe I'm being too pedantic here. But if we are going to propagate enough levain to both incorporate into the final mix AND have leftover to be used as the starter for tomorrows mix, then it has to be shown somewhere. Or at least I choose to show it somewhere.

You state above that you get it. So maybe I'm just spinning and wasting both my time and digital space on a server somewhere. But perhaps this will fortify the concept in your mind and help our original poster and perhaps others understand the process better. In this case that process is the way that Mr. Hamelman instructs us to do it.

alan

I completely get the 3% of TFW in the total dough and also 20% prefermented flour in the Levain of the TFW in the total dough. That makes sense you me.

Not accounting for the starter in the Total Dough makes sense to me now when I take into account that this formula is intended for the commercial baker. He intends to perpetuate 30 grams of starter (in this case). He needs to account for the starter even though it is not added to the total weight. And if it wasn’t accounted for how would the spreadsheet recalculate the starter in the event the TDW was changed. So, if the batch was doubled, this method would automatically increase the starter to 60g.

I have struggled with the reckoning of the starter ever since I began my endeavor to grasp Baker’s Percentages according to the BBGA. I get it now. I actually joined the BBGA trying to understand this. Thanks to you, I do. I appreciate your patience.

I will probably continue using my spreadsheet as is, calculating the starter as part of the TDW. I take a piece from the mother starter and use it in the formula. This wat the mother remains. I’m concerned if I go Hamelman’s (BBGA) way that I’ll forget to pull out the starter from the Levain. The starter will be lost. And believe me, I’m completely capable of that. :-)

I am very glad I understand this though, because interpreting the formulas of others using this method should make sense now.

Thanks

Dan

is that they are the product of whoever creates/copies them. So there are probably a few hundred differing styles of these out there. Are we to say that we are the correct ones because we follow the BBGA format? It would be nice if that were the case and everyone lined up behind us and followed in lockstep. But that's about as likely to happen as the French calling a levain a sour dough, in which case a firing squad would be hastily convened at their place of work and the vulgar violator vaporized with vindictive velocity and a final violá from the vociferous vocal locals!

Now revealing a personal truism here, I have a small vat of starter which I refresh every so often. And which is used as the foundation/starter for the 2 step builds. And when I'm done and add the levain to the final dough, I am almost always out of levain, even though I've built the extra to be used as "tomorrow's" starter. And that is because, although I am anal about accurate measurements, some of the levain gets lost to the mixing implements, the mixing bowl, sometimes my hands, etc. So I never wind up having that next day's starter as a remnant of the build. I know that so there is no false expectation otherwise.

Zscampbellcooks, I went to your profile page and saw that you hadn’t filled in any details. I wanted to send you a Private Message. If you want we can discuss this over the phone. I too struggled with Hamelman’s instructions before I got help here. It was extremely confusing until I saw the light.

Let me know if you fill in your profile and want to talk.

Dan

Alfanso, it might be benefical to others that are confused to circle or somehow indicate that the starter weight is not added as part of the total of the TDW. But the starter percentage is added to the total percentage. Weight not added - percentage added. I realize the percentage is added to the bottom line to facilitate starter weight auto-calculations when the TDW is changed.

That is the part I had to mathematically discover in order to understand.

I hope this makes sense.