## HELP! Confused about Reinhart's baker's percentage

Hi!

I struggle to understand Reinhart's way of calculating the total dough formula with pre-ferments. Seriously, it's so confusing, so I'm hoping someone could explain this to me.

His BBA book (p. 245) lists a Basic Sourdough Bread (SF SD).

**Day 1 (to make a firm starter)**

113 g barm - 88.3%

128 g Bread flour - 100%

28-57 g of water - 22%

**Day 2**

774 g bread flour - 100%

14 g of salt - 2.44%

269 g of firm starter - 47%

397 g of water - 69%

Then he lists a **total dough formula**, and this is where I'm stomped:

709 g of bread flour - 100%

12.5 g of salt - 1.9 %

532 g of water. - 68.25 %

Questions:

1. Can anyone explain why the amount of salt is reduced in the total dough formula? Isn't it the same recipe with the same ingredients?

2. I somewhat understand how to calculate bakers' percentage using the total dough formula (factoring in the flour and water from pre-ferment). But I'm baffled as to why he lists 709g of flour there (as I figured he added 574g of flour from day to and (269g/2)=135g of firm starter). If his firm starter is about 40-50% hydration, then why he assumes it's 100% hydration in the final dough?

I hope it wasn't too confusing.

Can't wait to see your insights!

Thank you!

Welcome to TFL.

I have the Kindle version of the 2nd edition. The final dough lists 574 g flour, not 774. That gets it closer to the 709 total. (But it still doesn't take into account the flour in the barm.)

Also, the total water is off, whether you count the water in the barm, or not.

It looks like the "total dough" figures are all off. So just go by the Starter and final dough. And scale those if needed.

I also have the First edition in hard copy. It uses ounces, not grams, and those are consistent with the 2nd edition, so the error seems to be only in the total dough of the 2nd edition, and 574 final flour, not 774.

(The ounces for the final flour is 20.25, and that is 574 grams.)

The 1st edition does not have total dough figures at all.

Omg, Thank you so much for your reply! I was literally losing my mind because the numbers in the total dough were off. I have a hard copy and the amounts there are listed in grams

I just noticed that I made a typo in day 2 for bread flour, which is 574, but it doesn’t help in understanding his math any better

To avoid any further typos, here's his formula...

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Flour is always 100%.

If you include the starter/levain, which has part of the overall flour, then salt percentage will go up.

Break down all the ingredients then the flour will increase but the salt percentage will decrease all the while staying the same.

See how whichever way he has expressed the recipe the flour remains 100%. However while that is the case when expressing dough formulas different ways, he has actually changed the amount of salt which is a mistake!

Abe, it’s not about salt percentage going up, it’s about the amount of salt in gram decreasing in the total dough formula, which is odd, since salt should be the one not changing at all.

In a normal formula, however it is expressed, the salt percentage will alter according to flour. But the salt amount won't change. So if the flour is taken out of the preferment the salt percentage will go down and vice versa.

But in this case he had actually changed the salt amount! It is a mistake.

Thank you! That’s what I think. I’m still pretty new to artisan baking but I do know the math, and the way he presented his total dough formula just doesn’t make sense.

Then take the total flour within the recipe and use 1.8 - 2% salt using bakers percentages. That's within normal range.

If you have a look at the table for the overall formula he writes 12.5g salt = 1.9%. If you do the math then 1.9% actually = 14g as in the final dough formula.

I think for 709 grams of flour (providing he hasn't made a mistake there too) then 14g sounds about right. But going by the range of 1.8 - 2% you'll get...

12.8g - 14.2g

Anything in-between will be just fine!

I'm sorry, but I'm still very confused.

First, in his total dough formula, he wrote the bread flour amount wrong. However, it should be slightly higher than 709g since he made a firm starter earlier with about 40-50% hydration.

But let's assume the amount of BF is right. I don't understand why he changed the amount of salt in grams in the total final dough. It should stay at 14 g. So the percentage will change, not the gram amount.

And thirdly, if I calculate how much percent salt takes up compared to bread flour, it would be 12.5g/709g=1.8%. So again, he says 1.9%. Maybe not a big deal, but still not helpful to understand.

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Here's my spreadsheet of his formula (based on the data he provided) and my numbers for the total dough formula. Unfortunately, it seems like his (or maybe mine) are way off.

759g BF

So 1.8 - 2% salt = 13.7g - 15.2g

14g falls within that range and will be just fine.

I have been looking and there are many mistakes in that book. But providing you stick to that formula then 14g sounds about right. Forget his percentages.

Thank you so much for your explanation.

Can I ask you where I could find the ranges (in %) for basic sourdough?

e.g., how much salt, water, sourdough, and flour should be in the dough?

I tried to find the answer in BBA, but I couldn't. Maybe there are other sources/books I can peruse?

An excellent book with good explantions and delicious recipes.

I can't give you exact amounts as everything depends on flour being used but a good rule of thumb is 1.8 - 2% of total flour for salt.

Thanks once again!

Check your personal messages.

Got it:)

"Can I ask you where I could find the ranges (in %) for basic sourdough? e.g., how much salt, water, sourdough, and flour should be in the dough?"

Other than salt, there are little to no overall generalizations for hydration % and % starter/levain. It all depends on the specific recipe or a given author's "system."

White flour sourdough could be 60% to 72% hydration. White flour Ciabatta over 90%. Whole grain 80 to 95%. Enriched doughs with butter, oil, or egg, then have less water. Inclusions like seeds take more water.

Preferments (starter, levain, poolish, biga) could be from 7% to 90% !

I have over a dozen bread cookbooks, and all that varies by author, type of bread, and type of flour.

Reinhart's BBA is a very popular "system", so I'd recommend sticking with it. Don't discard or discount his book because you ran into this inconsistency. All cookbooks will have some discrepencies or outright errors.

Hamelman's "Bread" book, that Abe mentioned, is also a popular "system". It's in its third edition.

Here's something I like to harp on, please bear with me.

In my opinion, new bakers, or those bakers new to sourdough, can progress faster if they pick a "system" or author they like, and stick to those published recipes while learning.

Because first, a newbie has to learn to adjust established tried-and-true recipes to their brand of flour, their starter, their water, their local temp/humidity conditions. All those things matter and can make a difference.

Hydration needs adjusting because flour, just sitting in your pantry, sheds or absorbs moisture depending on local conditions.

In my opinion, only after some experience, should newbies move on to inventing their own recipes/formulas from scratch. Otherwise, the beginner is like a trail-blazer with no map or compass.

Thank you so much for such a thorough reply.

I totally agree about sticking to one method until you master it.

.

"I don't understand why he changed the amount of salt in grams in the total final dough."

He didn't. It was just human error. And it probably wasn't Reinhart.

Those total-dough tables were not in the first edition - it's easy to imagine how the snafu crept in.

I'm guessing someone at the publisher, who was not an experienced bread baker, was tasked with figuring out the "total dough" numbers and adding them in.

Or maybe the numbers were correct in Reinhart's spreadsheet files that he sent to the publisher, but the techie at the publisher copy/pasted in the wrong spreadsheet or section.

Then the publisher's proof-reader, who was likely neither a baker, nor a "numbers person" just didn't catch the error.

--

When you see errors in printed material, sometimes it's best to ignore the why/how the error occured. Either too many, or not enough, people could have been involved. Publishing is teamwork, and not all of them are experts in the subject matter. Don't assume the error was intentional.

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When you buy a cookbook or any techy book, go online and look for an errata file.

==

Edited to add: I have not been able to find an errata file for BBA.

Thank you so much for your advice! I will look for it!

Re: San Fran Sourdough, page 245, BBA 2nd edition (15th anniversary.)

The firm starter and final dough match what's in the 1st edition.

You can ignore all the "total dough formula" figures on this page, both raw numbers and percentages, they are all wrong -- typos, or misprints, or math errors, whatever.

You can work out the totals for yourself if you want. His "barm" (aka mother starter) is 100% hydration.

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Has anyone found an errata file online for BBA 2nd edition?

Thank you so much! I feel way better now. This question has been bothering me for quite a long time. I always thought that I just didn’t get how to calculate the total dough formula.

I only have BBA printed version.

don’t seem to be proof read for math. As a general rule I double check the formulas before starting a bake.

I thought I was going crazy. Thank you!

Hi,

I might be a wee bit late to join the conversation but I hope you don’t mind if I help you get to the right point with this recipe.

Essentially, it’s the same recipe given two ways.

Recipe 1 - Total Dough Formula is combined with the Firm Starter. The flour & water in the starter is deducted from the Total Dough Formula Weights.

Recipe 2 - Final Dough is effectively a “stand-alone” recipe with the starter added as an ingredient (269g) How you make that ingredient (Preferment/Levain) is listed in the firm starter.

Recipe 1 has 12.5 grams of salt

Recipe 2 has 14 grams of salt

I’ve attached below a couple of recipe cards that show the correct arrangements, percentages & weights for each bake.

You will also find a Revised Total Weight in each.

Method 1 has one loaf at 680g. Method 2 has two loaves at 680g each.

Hope they help

Rafe.