The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA riddled with percentage errors?

The Almighty Loaf's picture
The Almighty Loaf

BBA riddled with percentage errors?

I was recently prepping to make BBA's Poilane-Style Miche recipe trying to figure out if I could sneak in an autolyse before noticing something that I've seen a fair number of times through this book and WGB: the baker's percentages are inaccurate. According to the book, the final dough is 77.5% hydration, but that's only because the 255 g of flour included in the levain was completely excluded (yet the flour quantity present in the levain innoculation wasn't, strangely). By my calculations, using the absolute upper limit of water called for in the recipe, the dough doesn't exceed 66.3% hydration. That's not a small difference, and the incorrect flour quantity throws off the salt percentage as well.

I can't remember all of the recipes, but I know for a fact that similar errors are present throughout the book (I think one of them was regarding the yeast quantity in the ciabatta recipe, which was incorrect for the poolish version but not the biga version). You'd think for a revised version of the book, there wouldn't be such easy-to-catch errors that might significantly alter the final result and discourage home bakers. Am I crazy or has anyone else noticed this too?

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

What?  🤷‍♂️ You expect the world to be perfect ? ;-)

 

bottleny's picture
bottleny

Your calculation is correct.

However, I cannot find the part saying the final dough with 77.5% hydration in the book (mine epub). In the end of this section, it shows the table in %, which is correct too.

 

The Almighty Loaf's picture
The Almighty Loaf

Maybe the e-book was edited? This is what my copy of BBA states. I’m surprised that Reinhardt would call for such a low hydration for high extraction flour.


idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Your pic of that table is identical to my BBA 15th anniv, Kindle Edition, location 6905.

Just a math error, or a Spreadsheet coding error, I'd bet.

 It's not too dificult to issue a new version of a Kindle edition. The Kindle reader should see it and let you know there is an update.

As PR says in the commentary, "Sifted" medium-grind WW or "high extraction" is more-or-less the equivalent to a blend of 50% WW and 50% white flour.

Assuming the barm is 100% hydration, as the instructions say, and if all 624 g water is used in the final, then total formula hydration works out to 66.3%.  

So, you're right. seems low.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Here's a recent blog post by P.R. with his email addy if you want to contact him about an "errata sheet" for 2nd edition BBA.  I'm guessing one exists, but a quick/simple search did not turn it up.

https://www.fornobravo.com/pizzaquest/letter-texas-baker/

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Until quite recently, there were two ways of accounting for the levain in baker's math. One way treated the levain as a single ingredient, so the flour and water were not accounted for in the ingredient percentages in the Total Dough. The other way was to break out the ingredients in the levain and include the percentage of each in the Total Dough.

The second way is endorsed by the Bread Bakers' Guild of America and has come to be the standard. It does represent the constituents of a dough more accurately.

BBA was written quite a few years before the current standard was firmly established, so the baker's percentages in it may be accurate but not real, if that makes sense.

David

The Almighty Loaf's picture
The Almighty Loaf

That's what I had originally believed the issue to be, but I'm also not sure since the total water weight is not equal to the amount added in the levain plus the amount added in the final dough mix. Actually, I have absolutely no idea where the final water amounts in BBA are coming from; they don't even seem to be derived from the recipe. It's almost as if a random test batch was performed and whatever amount of water was needed in that batch, include off-recipe adjustments, was the amount listed in the total dough percentages.

Oh well, they're still great recipes and it's easy to calculate baker's percentages myself. I still don't understand that miche hydration though...

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I pulled out my copy of BBA, which is the first printing of the first edition (2001). I calculated the hydration, taking into account the flour and water in the "Barm," the firm starter and the final dough. FYI, the Barm is 100% hydration. The Firm Starter is 60% hydration. The Total Dough hydration is a range, because the formula gives a pretty large range of water in the final dough. So, The Total Dough hydration is 54.9 to 67.7%.

Now, Reinhart's table gives the Total Dough ingredients - Firm Starter, Whole-wheat flour, Salt and Water (approximate). He does not provide the hydration percentage of the Total Dough.

The table in the OP's edition is screwy. It seems to omit the Firm Starter from the Total Dough. This does appear to be a pretty major editing error.

Happy baking!

David