The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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qahtan's picture


 I meant to post this before,  but thank heavens you don't post your recipes in bakers percentages, also all that  about hydration ect.

 Try as I may I just don't , and not for the want of trying but I just don't understand either.

 And I am sure I am not the only poster like that....   qahtan  ;-))) ;-))

nbicomputers's picture

every thing i wiill post will be in weght

if any body wants i will convert to volume (cups and spoons U.S.- i am not realy good with metric)

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

PaddyL's picture

qahtan, I don't understand baker's percentages either, preferring to mix my dough by hand until it feels right, and I don't even bother measuring any more.  For something like cakes, pastries, cookies, yes I do measure, less for pastry though because that goes by feel too.  I find "bread-speak" a bit overwhelming; hydration meaning wetness, autolyse is rest, poolish is sponge, etc.  By all means, if you're comfortable using these words, go ahead, but though my last name is French, I'll go with the simple English words every time.

cordel's picture

I find the posts using bread-speak quite fascinating, but I can only follow so far and then give up.  I wonder if my bread would be better if I could follow, or if I should continue to use the white thumb I discovered the first time I made rolls.   Being lazy, I will continue to read and try to absorb more knowledge, but follow the old style recipes without baker's percentages.  I have learned to weigh ingredients though, especially when baking for company, since it removes the variability.

holds99's picture

O.K., let me give this a shot. Here's something from Daniel Leader's book, LOCAL BREADS, that may help with understanding baker's Percentages. Leader says: "In addition to giving the weights and volume measurements of ingredients, I list the "baker's percentages"---that is, I list all the ingredients in terms of their percentage amount compared to the flour (or flours), which [the flour] is always 100 percent. Bakers commonly share recipes with each other in these terms rather than listing ingredients in grams, ounces, or cups. No matter how large or small a batch of dough is, the bakers percentages never change. Home bakers don't need to know the baker's percentages in order to make a great loaf, but seeing the realtionship between liquids and solids in a recipe is another good way to learn to think precisely about dough.

Note: In the bakers percentage concept/formula the flour is always the basis of comparison (100%) for all the other ingredients in the recipe. So, for example, if you have a recipe that calls for 10 cups flour (100%)and 3 cups liquid, then liquid represents 30% bakers percentage (proportion)of that ingredient (liquid in this case) to flour's (100%). Same "theory of proportion" to flour applies to yeast, salt, etc. The bakers percentage (proportion of individual ingredient to flour) is always constant for a given recipe regardless of the volume of flour; cups, ounces, grams, (10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, etc.).

Hope this helps.


qahtan's picture


 yea, wll thanks I think, some can maybe understand  it, but not me,,,,,,

 for several years now off and on, by many people trying to help me understand it, but it is still like a lot of Scotch mist to me.....

 But then I have got along this far with out it so I must bue doing some thing right....

 ;-))) qahtan 

nbicomputers's picture

while i do understand bakers percent quite well i only use it when doing recearch and creating new formulas.  once finished i allways give the formula in percent and weight.  since wight is understood by almost every one i do not post the percent here.  why confuse people. if someone asks i will gladly give the formula in percent.

some people have talked about going by feal.  in the modern world of baking , the bakers look at them selfs as chemists and baking as chenistry.  presise mesurments and adjustments are made to produce a consistant result.

It was once told to me "it does not make any diference if you make long as the crap you make comes out the same way every time"   i don't want to make crap but i knew what he was talking about.  Take a look at your next package of ring-dings--- their the same as the one you got 10 yeasr ago and they will be the same as the ones you get next month.  That does not happen by accsadent.  nether does that loaf of wonder bread.  they are all ways the same.  carefull mixing and scaling as well as adjusting for changeing conditions has a lot to do with that.   So there is a lot to be said for exact mesuring.

that said i worked for one bakery that used (of all things a bucket) what we called a pail  i checked it one day and it held about 16 quarts but there were no lines on it.  it was in fact an old gray mop bucket.  the boss would tell me in the morning to "make 10 pails or on a very busy day 25 pails.  well i would start playing gunga din and start walking back from the mixer to the sink filling the pail with water while the boss was using a second bucket to shovel the flour in the mixer.  then we would throw in a few blokes of yeast and using a garden hand spade a few scoops of fat (shortening) the only thing that was by weight was the salt.  we allways got great bread so if you know the feal on the dough blindfold go for it.Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

holds99's picture


You're a pro and know baking far better than I could ever hope to.  From everything I've read I completely agree with you re: consistency, even down to Wonder Bread's "secret formula" which is the same as Merita and Sunbeam bread's "secret formula", lots of air and preservatives.  I'm surprised Wonder Bread doesn't have a valve stem on the end of their loaves. 

Anyway, my understanding of the main point re: bakers percentages is you can, for example, take a recipe for 100 loaves of bread and quickly reduce it to a recipe for 5 loaves of bread by dividing the amount of flour (pounds, kilos, etc.) for the 100 loaves by 20, (= amt. for 5 loaves) then using that 5 loaf flour amount as your 100% flour amount (for your 5 loaves), then apply the same % factors for other ingredients (water, yeast, salt, etc.) as in the 100 loaves in order to scale the recipe down, allowing you to get the same consistant results for 5 loaves as you got for 100 loaves.  Conversely, you could increase a recipe the same way.  I think the usefulness of the "baker's percentage" for commercial as well as home bakers would be to take a commercial recipe for, say, 50 loaves of bread and scale it down to 10 or 5 or whatever number of loaves or vice versa.

Yeah, I know, it's getting late.  Incidentally, you should have that pail and shovel bronzed as a reminder that baking can be done seat-of-the-pants with great results.  Time for a yeast break.  Have a good evening


nbicomputers's picture

you are exactly right but i did not want to go over anybodys head.  i was concerned that if i posted something like

45% white rye

55 % white flour

3.68% sugar

2.15% salt

some peoples head wpuld explode and i did not want to sound like a snob or make it look like im better than every one elce

its bad enough that my bread mixs start with large amounts of flour.

i want to make it easy enough so my bread mix can be done by anyone here thats wants to try my mix. as any mix would be read in a bread book

1/2 ounce of salt most people will get right away 2.35% might need to explaned don't want to confuse.   

iPro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

holds99's picture


Thanks for your post.  You're so right about confusion.  I mainly wanted your confirmation that I had it right.  I didn't want to sound snobbish either but I really think the baker's percentage could be useful in conversion of pro recipes for home use.  I have a professional baking book PROFESSONAL BAKING by Wayne Gisslen that I bought at a food show in Chicago years ago and finally, using this formula, I can convert/scale some of the large bakery volume recipes down into usable home recipes.  For example, in one recipe for biscuits Gisslen calls for 5 pounds of flour, which makes an awful lot of biscuits but he also includes the % so I'll be able to make the conversion to smaller batches for this and other recipes in his book.  Hey, I paid 30 bucks for that book 15 years ago and haven't used it until recently because I couldn't figure out how to bake any of the recipes without owning a bakery.  Anyway, I know what you mean about the brain "exploding", mine nearly did when I was doing some of the arithmetic on Gisslen's larger recipes.  It's interesting (and challenging) trying to figure this stuff out.  So, in closing I just wanted you to know I thoroughly enjoy your postings and your interesting and funny stories.  You have an terrific sense of humor.  Please keep posting, I look forward to them.


nbicomputers's picture

I have the second edition of that book.  what edition do you have.  I can assure that 1- you don't need a bakery
2 every one of the mixes in that book can be done in  a home kitchen.

over the years i have delevoped a way to make the math as ease as making sure you are getting the right change back from the checkout person

it does require the ability to add subtract and a little work with fractions  now most people should be able to do this but i don't taKE THAT FOR GRANTED

just two steps

use the american amounts (U.S not the metric)
FIRST-- take all of the amounts shown in pounds and change them to ounces 
SECOND-- take the amount shown in ounces and put 16 under the number changiing it to a fraction (8 ounces becomes 8/16 ounce
THIRD REDUICE IF NEEDED---8/8 =1  16/8=2 answer 1/2 ounce

now  look at the total of all the ingredents.  Remember what you put in you get out.

his white bread on page 47 of the second edition would change From this

water 3 pounds
yeast 3 oounces
Bread Flour 5 pounds
Salt 2 Ounces
Sugar 3 ounces
Non fat Milk Solides 4 Ounces
shortening 3 Ounces

to this

Water 3 ounces
yeast 3/16 of an ounce
bread Flour 5 Ounces
salt 2/16 Oz an ounce
sugar 3/16 of an ounce
Non fat Milk Soldis 4/16 of an ounce
shortrtening 3/16 of an ounce

this would total only about 9 ounces of dough--- wayto small

so lets say we want two breads about 1 pound each
we would need to make about 4 times this small mix
9 x 4=36 ounces  36/16 =2 with 4 left over

that would give us 2 breads at 18 ounces each
which is what we want.. so we need to times the small mix by 4

water 3 ounces x 4 =12 ounces water 1 and 1/2 cups
yeast 3/16 x 4 =12 /16--- reduce 12/16 (12/4 = 3    16/4 = 4  (3/4 ounce yeast)
Bread flour 5 ounces x 4=20 ounces
salt 2/16 X 4= 8/16   8/8=1  16/8=2  1/2 ounce salt
And so on

it  does not matter how or crazy the formula is.  i have used this method to cut down any large mix to a size that can be made in a small stand mixer or food processor
I hope this works for you

I have done my best to explane the math but if i did not do a good enough job of it please ether e-mail me or skype me some evening.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

holds99's picture


Thanks so much for taking time to share your formula/math with me.  It makes complete sense and I really appreciated it.  I copied your conversion formula and printed it and will keep it in my three ring binder baking book, that I keep and use for reference when I bake.  I'll use the U.S. measurements, as you indicated, for conversion.

To answer your question, my version of Gisslen's book was copyright (and published I presume) in 1985 by Wiley and Sons.  The main reason I bought it (at the Chicago Restaurant Show back 15 or so years ago) was because I was in the process of opening a restaurant/cafe in Annapolis, MD and was planning to use some of the recipes at the restaurant.  As you know his book is very good as he goes into a fair amount of detail on items like types of flour, sugars/sweeteners, eggs, extracts and emulsions, chocolate/cocoa, etc.

Thanks again,


Elagins's picture

Probably the most important percentages I carry in my head are for the standard baguette: 60% water, 2% salt, 2% cake yeast equivalent. From there, it's an easy enough thing to adjust the flour and water until I get the dough I want -- the elasticity and slackness of the dough under the dough hook probably tells me more than specific quantities. And although the flour and water (along with other additives, sugar, fats, milk, eggs, etc) are adjustable; for me, only yeast and salt are carved in stone.