Bread Recipe Spreadsheet
There are many recipes out there both in books and online -- some good, some not so good. At a point in my bread making journey, I wanted to do some experimentation and try my hand at creating my own recipes or modifying some I liked. I've had a spreadsheet for years but it was pretty simple and didn't offer a full-fledged tool to be creative. So, late last year I decided to kick it up a notch to make it more complete. This is the spreadsheet I've been using for several months now and have enjoyed using it. So, since others might enjoy a tool that helps them be creative and learn more about how things work in a recipe, I decided I'd share it.
Now, there are other spreadsheets out there and if they work for you, great. This one fit my preferences for an interface. What I particularly wanted was one that offered a seamless integration of soakers and other wet/dry ingredients. I also wanted a way to import a recipe so that I could try some changes.
This spreadsheet is available both for download (for those who have the Excel PC app) or with Excel Online for those who don't.
Now, the spreadsheet is pretty involved with a lot of features so I created a YouTube demo/help video. I give a quick demo at the beginning so you can decide if you might want to watch further. Here's the link:
If you want to download the spreadsheet here's the link:
Download: https://onedrive.live.com/download?cid=B126829C89FACFE6&resid=B126829C89FACFE6%21209&authkey=AG3cm-VoQzojrBA&em=2 (1)
If you don't have the Excel App on your PC and you want to try it, message me with your email address. I need that so I can set up a private spreadsheet on my Microsoft OneDrive for you to use. You can try it there but if you want to use it long term, you'll need a Microsoft account. It's free and will give you your own OneDrive where you can create and store your spreadsheets.
I wanted some automation in the spreadsheet to make life easier so there are Visual Basic script macros in the spreadsheet. They are represented by the buttons at various places and also do some automatic formating and prevent cut/copy pastes which can mess up the formatting and spreadsheet. I cover all that at the end of the Disable Macros video. Now, if you're worried I might have put some malicious code in the macros, you can do a couple of things. If you are using the Excel PC app you can disable the macros before you start using it. Here's a video that explains how to do that:
Disable Macros: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQfY6D2FNXc
Or, you can just use the Excel Online version because the macros are disabled there.
I've used this for months and fixed anything that didn't seem right to me, but if someone sees something that doesn't seem right, please let me know. If there is a problem, I'll fix it and post a link to the new version here.
There are many niceties in bread making and bread making techniques but I don't think creating a recipe should be an impediment. Bread making will still have its intuitive (feel) side and adjustments may be necessary, as always, because of the complexity of ingredients and techniques. However, hopefully the spreadsheet will minimize them and make it fun to try new things.
Steve, if ever I have an Excel question, you are definitely da’ man. I am watching your video and the thought that you put into this tool is amazing...
Thanks for sharing.
Question- at 29:39 in your Helps video, how are you calculating 449g for the total water in the soaker? What am I missing?
The last 20 years of my engineering career I did mostly software engineering including a lot of Excel applications for my boss so it was a lot of fun for me to work on this. In fact, I was kinda bumbed out when I ran out of things to add to it.
Here's the process I used to determine the soaker water amount:
BTW, for those who may have seen the soaker water data I put in this post, here's the manual process.
There is so many options available on your spreadsheet that it appears daunting and intimidating.
From an outsider looking in, I have a suggestion. Is it possible to setup the following? When a user enters information in an initial input cell, that all other cells that are able to receive data are highlighted with a certain color? Then after all input was entered the user would be instructed to go to a new cell in order to proceed with the process. Once an entry was made in this new cell the previously highlighted cells would return to normal and new data entry cells would be highlighted.
Just thinking out loud...
If you want to discuss this over the phone, send me a PM with your contact number and a good time so we can talk. If you want we can also Skype, enabling you to share your screen. Input from an outsider may help to make your sheets more user friendly.
It is amazing how much thought you put into this work. It is super kind of you to share your work!
Yes, I figured that the spreadsheet would be intimidating, at least at first. This is true of any new software. Also, the spreadsheet does require some knowledge of the way formulations work. For instance, for a pre-ferment, the user would need to have some basic knowledge of how starter percents, hydrations, etc. work. A large starter percent increases the amount of leavening and therefore the rate of fermentation. The hydration of the pre-ferment can affect the type of beasties that thrive and therefore the characteristic of how the pre-ferment will affect the final dough. While there is a lot of literature on all this available, I have found that trying certain formulations helps get a feel for things. With bread, because of its complexity, I don't think there is any substitute for just trying things out and seeing how it works out. I know for me the failures can be very informative. That, to a large extent, was why I created the spreadsheet so I could make changes quickly and fail in an informed way.
I tried to add some color coding of cells to guide the user but I'm open to adding some others to make it easier. I'll message you so we can have a conversation. A key to any software is user feedback. If others have suggestions and especially criticisms, I welcome them. The thing, in my view, is that amateur bakers shouldn't just have to just repeat what the "pros" have put out there. With a little effort to understand how formulations work, the opportunity for creativity in bread making can be great and very satisfying.
HI Steve, your spread sheet is impressive and I watched your video on YouTube, proceeded to save the excel spread sheet on my computer, and then tried to input data, but no text showed up when I used the drop down options. It just left the fields blank. Is there a different version I need to download other than that linked to above? Or a setting I am not aware of? This is my first query on TFL so hopefully this gets to you!
Sorry I'm so late seeing your message. I didn't get an email notification and hadn't checked the site for a while. I don't know if you're still here. If there is no percentage in the "Pre-flour % of Total Flour" box the dropdowns for that pre-ferment won't show anything. So, just put in a value there and everything will work. Here's where the problem is. In this image there is 0% in the box so that pre-ferment isn't part of the recipe and nothing will work for it.
Thank you for the reply Steve, I will try to fill it in as you suggested. Happy baking!
I am so impressed by this tool. I am using it regularly to adjust recipes and generate sheets with notes for every new bake I try. Thank you so much.
I just wanted to flag a minor glitch, which happens, at least to me, when you add a second pre ferment. I am using some of Reinhart's whole-grain recipes, which use a flour soaker, and after I enter all the values for the second preferment in the recipe calculator I get "Please add some liquid to preferment 2." Just to be clear, I am putting in the water value, but I am getting the message nonetheless.
I hope you can help me fix it!
Otherwise, props for putting this together and make it available to the baking world!
Note: the problem at issue is on the Recipe Converter worksheet NOT the Calc Worksheet.
To others: What I wrote earlier here didn't work. This will:
This URL should take you to the public folder where you can put a checkmark for the file (upper right corner of the icon) and then hit the download button at the top menu.
I'm so glad the spreadsheet is useful for you. Thanks so much for letting me know about the problem. I found the error and fixed it. Unfortunately, it's an update to the spreadsheet so the fix will only be in spreadsheets you create with this new version. Here's the download URL for version 1.1: https://onedrive.live.com/download?cid=b126829c89facfe6&resid=B126829C89FACFE6!216&parId=B126829C89FACFE6!144&app=Excel If you run into any other issues, please let me know.
Thank you for getting back to me Steve! I am excited to use the new version. Unfortunately, I cannot access the file you sent, it says I do not have authorized access or that the file might not exist anymore? I had no problem accessing the onedrive link you have on your main post, so I am not sure what the issue is.
Were you able to download the file and but not able to open it? I don't know why that would be the case but I'll look into it. If, however, you weren't unable to download it, that's a different problem.
OneDrive doesn't have a friendly way to make direct download URLs so maybe I got it wrong. It works for me but I'm the owner so that doesn't count. This URL should take you to the public folder where you can put a checkmark for the file (upper right corner of the icon) and then hit the download button at the top menu. If that still doesn't let you download it, I'll investigate further.
Note: here's the correct URL for this:
Thank you Steve. Yes, the problem is that I cannot download the file. This is the message I am getting:
Let me know what I can do to help.
Sorry about this. It's been a couple of years since I set this up. Please try this link.
That worked! Thank you so much Steve! You made my day.
Great! Let me know if you still have problems with the spreadsheet or have any suggestions. I enjoy working on this stuff.
Will do. I may have some notes as I continue to work with it. :) Take care!
I thought of another tweak. I am playing with some of Reinhart's whole grain recipes and he adds several ingredients to his pre-ferments. For his WW cinnamon-raisin loaf, for example, he adds eggs and oil to the biga and raisins to the flour soaker. Would it be possible to add a few slots to the preferment sections for that purpose? (For additional dry and wet ingredients I mean)
Just a small detail, but it would be great.
Thanks as always,
There will always be recipe variations away from the norm where the spreadsheet won't be able to accommodate them (too extensive a modification). In the case of the pre-ferment you mentioned the addition of egg and oil will affect the "hydration" of the pre-ferment. The spreadsheet does allow for using something other than water in the pre-ferment but not a combination of different components that have water in them. Now, the spreadsheet does include adding other ingredients (even those with water) in the Wet/Dry Ingredient Additions section, Water Factors table, and the Dry Ingredients worksheet. How to use those is covered in the video. However, like with your recipe, some hand calculations would be needed to get that right and checked if the recipe or dough amount is changed.
Totally, that is the beauty of this spreadsheet. I can still put in the overall values, which is great.
It seems like it would be complicated to add the slots, but thanks anyways Steve, for getting back to me. I figured I would check in to get your thoughts.
I am currently using this tool a lot, so thanks!
thank you so much for this awesome spread sheet Steven.
You are a genius
I'm having some trouble with the calculations with some recipes that require an autolease.
I've been thinking that I can use the final dough numbers to make an autolease and then add the starter and/or poolish for the final mix.
but the spreedsheet takes account of all hydration from the poolish and the starter and so the final dough numbers lack water for a nice autolease.
Can you help me with this?
I'm not sure if this is how you are doing it, but for an autolyze with the final dough, the water at the bottom of the Final Dough section is the water for the autolyze. The water amount in the Final Dough section is the additional water that is needed to get the bread hydration you want. It takes into account the water already in the pre-ferments, soakers, and other wet ingredients. If that doesn't answer your question, let me know. Here's an image that shows where that water amount for the autolyze is. The green column is what you are adding to the final dough.
yes. thank you.
it makes sense when I do 1 unit for 325g total dough, But when I bump the unit to 300 it suddenly changes the hydration level of the autolyze or "final dough". I was trying to set it so that the hydration on the autolyze would be 67% consistently.
also I'm not sure how to add water in the wet/dry ingredients
sorry for so many questions. I've been trying to figure this out for insane amounts of hours now haha
No problem about questions. Glad to help. Since the pre-ferments, soakers, and other wet ingredients contain water, if your target hydration for the bread is 67%, if you leave them out of the autolyze, you won't be able to get 67% hydration also for the autolyze unless they are also at 67%. Leaving out the per-ferments might not make a lot of difference, but the soakers usually contain free water and that would make a difference.
You don't need to calculate the water for the wet/dry ingredients. The system just needs to know the % of water in them. I've already put some common ones in the Water Factor's table but you can add your own if you can find out their % water. The amount of water added to the dough by them will be calculated based on the % of water they have and the % of overall flour weight you want to use.
Here's a link to that section in the help video:
Bread Recipe Calculator Demo/Help - YouTube
hey I think I figured it out. I just added extra 5% water on the final dough to form an auto lease of 64% every time I change the unit it stays at 64% now.
Hopefully 75% hydration is fine on this baguette haha.
It was so confusing because I'm also using levain for depth of flavor. I wish I could break some bread with you as a form of a thank you for this spread sheet. haha
Ok, hope that works.
I'm just glad some people are finding the spreadsheet useful. Thanks.
I figured out how to do a direct download of the latest version of the Bread Recipe Calculator Spreadsheet. Once downloaded and opened, you'll need to click on Enable Editing.
Here it is:
Direct Download Link
Also here's the link to the YouTube tutorial:
As of today, the Direct Download Link is not working. I would love to get a copy of your spreadsheet if possible. Would it be easier for me to send you my email?
That's weird. I checked and all my files had been put in the recycle bin. Concerning. Anyway, I restored them and the link works now. If not for you, please let me know. Or if you would like, you can message me your email address and I'll send it directly and also be able to address any questions you may have.
I was able to get it downloaded. Thanks!
I also noticed something else weird, at least on my system. When I opened the downloaded spreadsheet, it won't allow the button macros to work. It's never done that before and the spreadsheet works fine with the original in my file system. It may be something on my system but if you are getting the same thing, please let me know and I'll check further.
Because I'm a suspicious person.... perhaps your hosting-service account was hacked, maybe a virus was placed in the spreadsheet, then the hosting-service found it on a routine scan, and placed it in the trash folder. If you were notified in email, maybe you didn't notice the notice.
I'd check the spreadsheet's code very carefully. See if the file sizes differ.
My service is Microsoft OneDrive so I'm pretty confident it hasn't been hacked. However, I did run a great virus checking software (Malwarebytes) on the downloaded file and it didn't find anything.
I did a search for what might have happened with OneDrive and they said it could have been a syncing issue. Still concerning but since I could recover the files, I'll wait and see if it happens again.
BTW, did you encounter the security issue I mentioned where you can't use the buttons? This can be overcome by right-clicking on the file and opening the properties. Then check "unblock" at the bottom. I'm not sure why this is occurring now unless Microsoft Excel changed its security processes. Or it could be just something changed on my system.
Microsoft recently made a change to Office where files downloaded from the internet or in an email are automatically blocked. So if you want to use the buttons, you'll need to unblock the file as I showed in the prior post. The buttons (and their macros) aren't necessary to use the spreadsheet. They are just a convenience to avoid having to manually delete the current data.
Hello Steve... I found your post in the forum, but couldn't download it, but it seems the file doe not exist anymore.
Could you send it for my email firstname.lastname@example.org ?
Thanks a lot
Great spreadsheet, very useful. However I can't enter any numbers or change text color? the entry cells are locked and I can't do anything on the calc sheet
There could be a couple of reasons for this. When you first enter the spreadsheet, you'll need to enable editing.
If you've already done that, then the problem may be the change that Microsoft made recently for Excel. I have a post on this a few posts up from this one, so take a look about unblocking the spreadsheet. Roughly, Microsoft changed Excel so that spreadsheets downloaded or received in emails that have macros (mine does for automation) have to be unblocked to edit them. What a pain they created! First, you'll see this:
Next, you'll need to unblock the spreadsheet. I talk about his more in the post above I mentioned.
Once done, you should be able to enter values, but you won't be able to change colors. Many things are locked (unchangeable) because otherwise the formulas or conditional formatting could be 'stepped on' and cause errors.
I hope this fixes the problem for you but, if not, let me know what is happening. Thanks.
i unblocked it but the data cell (grams for example) is still protected and it prompts for a password to unprotect.
ok i figured it out. I didn't see the video tutorial above. the order of entry matters to unlock those cells and font visibility. Didn't realize that, I was trying to enter flour weight first. Very nifty sheet!