Understanding bakers percentages can be a bit challenging to get your head around, but once you’ve got it you’ll be able to adapt or scale-up any recipe. Bakers use a bakers formula to create recipes, we’ll cover those too in this quick read.
What is a bakers percentage?
To work out how to double a recipe it’s pretty simple, you just double the ingredients. But what if you wanted to change the amount of dough made by 10% so that it fits in the tin that you’ve got? Also, how about if you drop the water quantity in your recipe and then want to make a different sized batch of dough with the new water ratio.
Well, without knowing that bread recipes are made using bakers percentages, it would be possible, but it would take a while to work out. These percentages become the bakers’ formula which is essentially a scalable recipe.
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How bakers percentages work
Bakers percentage works by calling the total amount of flour 100%. That is all of the flour that is used in the recipe, just to be clear.
Next we take our other ingredients and base them on a percentage of the flour. That may sound confusing so here’s an example.
Let’s take that the flour used in a recipe is 1000 grams. A typical water percentage is 65% so that’s what we will use.
65% of 1000 is 650 Therefore, 650 grams of water should be used. The typical salt percentage for bread dough is 2%, so find the amount of salt in the recipe: 2% of 1000 makes 20 grams If we wanted to use 1.6 percent of yeast, 1.6 * 1000 = 16 So 16 grams of yeast
Providing we know the amount of flour and the bakers percentage of an ingredient we can determine how much we should add. So the weight of all the ingredients in a bread recipe is related to the weight of the flour.
How to increase batch sizes with bakers percentages
To find out how much dough we are making in a batch all we need to do is add up all of the ingredients in the recipe. If we want to change the amount of dough we are making we can use the bakers formula to do this.
All professional dough recipes are created with a bakers formula. It works by having the bakers percentage of the dough next to each ingredient and the amount needed for the dough is calculated by multiplying the percentage by the total flour weight.
|Perfect tin loaf|
|Total flour||570.00||Bakers %||Recipe|
This means we can see the total dough weight is 961 grams. Therefore if we want to increase the amount of dough to make 2 large loves and 1 little one we change the flour weight till the dough weight is above what we need for the bake.
|Perfect tin loaf|
|Total flour||1,440.00||Bakers %||Recipe|
We make it over the amount we need as some of the ingredients will evaporate and some gets stuck to bowls or utensils.It’s best to be over than under.
Calculating bakers percentage when using preferments or sourdough
The bakers percentage should include the ingredients used in the preferment included in the total figure, therefore for this recipe:
Biga: 100g Flour 80g Water 1g Yeast Dough: 400g Flour 300g Water 5g Yeast 10g Salt We add the flour in the biga and the main dough to get the total flour weight: 100 + 400 = 500g 500g = 100% Same with the water: 80 + 300 = 380 380 / 500 = 0.76 0.76 * 100 = 76% Water is 76% Same with the yeast and salt: 1 + 5 = 6g 6 / 500 = 0.012 0.012 * 100 = 1.2% Yeast = 1.2% Following the same method, the salt percentage here is 2%
Many recipes give the bakers percentage, the ones on here also include the bakers formula though it’s pretty easy to work out following the method above.
You’ll have to work out the bakers percentage in grams, if you prefer to use imperial or cups, you’ll have to convert the recipe both ways. I recommend that every bread baker uses scales to weigh bread recipes.
If you don’t have a good set of scales, these (click the link to go to Amazon) are probably the most popular with home bakers. They are durable, hard working, accurate and affordable. I’d go for them every time!
These are the ones I have. I like the accuracy and the use of the dual weights, one that goes down to 0.1 grams for light items like salt and yeast, the other is reliable for the heavier ingredients.
I’ve used both of these, and many others but these are the only ones I would ever recommend to make bread with.