A natural step after getting a handful of recipes mastered is to increase the batch size of a recipe. Doing this will allow you to make more loaves of bread from the same batch. Some bakers get confused, especially when thinking if they should double the yeast if the recipe is doubled so I've written this article to clear a few things up.
Ultimately, there are two instances when increasing the batch size of dough is necessary:
- Using a different sized baking tin or basket to what is used in a recipe
- Making more loaves which follow the same recipe
Some doughs are suited to make different varieties of bread, in this case both of these reasons are true.
Often a bakers white bread dough will be used in bloomers, farmhouse loaves, sandwich bread, Pulman bread, crusty rolls, iced buns and sometimes baguettes! Increasing the batch size saves time used to weigh and mix the ingredients.
We might also need to make less dough by decreasing the batch size of the dough. To decrease the dough size the same technique is used.
Let me show you how it works.
To determine how much we need of each ingredient when doubling you just double the recipe, easy. But when it comes to the majority of other calculations it becomes harder to do the maths accurately.
Adjusting the quantities required accurately for each ingredient is important so we can achieve consistency in our bread every time.
For this, we use the baker’s formula. This is the formula from which the recipe is created. Some professional bread recipes provide the baker’s percentage figures, but if not they are pretty simple to work out.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s use an example where the recipe has a batch size of one loaf and we are going to change it to make three breads. Here’s the recipe in its current form:
480g white flour
50g wholemeal flour
Total dough weight = 903g
Add all of the flour used in the recipe. For recipes using just one type of flour, there’s no adding up required, for those with more, just add them together for the total.
480g white flour
50g wholemeal flour
480 + 50 = 530
Total flour weight 530g
Once the total flour weight is determined we now class this as 100%. The total flour weight is what we base the quantities of the remaining ingredients from. To calculate the percentages of the remaining ingredients we take the weight, divide it by the total amount of flour and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
Here’s how we calculate the water percentage:
530g of total flour is 100%
350g = water
350/530 = 0.66
0,67 * 100 = 66%
And then we repeat for the remaining ingredients, not forgetting as we have two types of flour these will also have to calculated:
White flour = 91%
Wholemeal flour = 9%
(the flour will always add up to 100%)
Water = 66%
Salt = 2.1%
Yeast = 2.3%
We have now calculated the percentages for the remaining ingredients. This is the bakers’ formula for the recipe.
To increase or decrease the amount of dough we wish to create first we change the amount of flour and then recalculate the remaining ingredients by multiplying by their relevant percentages.
530 * 3 = 1590
White flour @ 91%
1590 / 100 * 91 = 1447g
Wholemeal flour @ 9%
1590 / 100 * 9 = 143g
Water @ 66%
1590 / 100 * 66 = 1049g
Salt = 2.1%
1590 / 100 * 2.1 = 33.4g
Yeast = 2.3%
1590 / 100 * 2.3 = 36.6g
Total dough weight = 2709g
We can create a spreadsheet to quickly work out these calculations similar to this bakers formula. If you have a reasonable knowledge of using spreadsheets such as Excel or Google Sheets it is really easy to set up. Here's a bakers formula for a basic white bread.
As I scaled my business I used a spreadsheet which would add up the daily orders and tell me how much dough I needed for each recipe. All I would need to do is tailor the flour weight on each recipe to match the required amount of dough.
Using this technique meant I could calculate my entire nights production in 5 minutes, creating minimal waste in the process.
Tips for increasing the size of the recipe
We've covered how to change the batch size of the dough, but now we are going to go over a few questions that often get asked when increasing the size of the recipe and a few common issues bakers discover when using bigger doughs.
When to divide the dough into individual pieces?
When making more than one bread from a batch of dough, you will need to divide the dough individual pieces. The dividing should be done after bulk fermentation has ended which gains the full benefit of the mass effect (see further).
In certain circumstances, you could divide the dough before this stage. These situations include separating a master dough for adding additional ingredients or making different bread shapes which want separate proofing/fermentation conditions.
Increasing the recipe to make bread the next day
Making a larger batch size to enjoy fresh bread the following day is a really useful trick which is going to save you time and energy in making another batch. Even a small amount of dough can be used for a pizza or flatbread to accompany a meal.
For best results, cool the dough in the fridge to slow the rate of fermentation. This reduces the chance of the dough becoming overripe the following day.
Depending on the amount of levain activity (yeast or sourdough are common levains) the amount of time the dough is to be in the fridge will determine the point that the dough portion should be separated.
For doughs with high amounts of yeast or high amounts of a very active levain, the dough is placed in the fridge straight after mixing.
For most sourdoughs or low yeasted bread, this is not the case. In this situation, the dough can be bulk fermented at ambient temperatures before tomorrows dough is separated, shaped and left in the fridge for an overnight final proof.
The mass effect explained
Flour contains many different particles which vary from plant to plant and even from grain to grain. The contents of the grain are affected by different amounts of sunlight, water, the soil or as the French say, the “Terroir”.
As dough ferments, enzymes derived from yeast fermentation break down the starch. This allows carbon dioxide, ethanol and lactic & organic acids to be developed.
Bigger batches of dough clearly contain more flour which introduces more variations of starch to the dough. A big batch of dough contains a larger variety of starches which helps the yeast and the enzymes it develops to work faster. The increase in the rate of fermentation and the quantities of enzymes create a dough that has superior qualities.
Increased variations of starch aid the yeast activity. The levain becomes more powerful which improves and accelerates the fermentation of the dough.
This is the power of the mass effect.
When increasing the batch size of the recipe we find fermentation rates increase. Therefore, we can reduce the time of the fermentation required or lower the quantity of the levain to compensate.
Should the yeast be doubled if I double the recipe?
When doubling a recipe the yeast can be reduced slightly. By not doubling the yeast alongside the rest of the ingredients you are in effect halving the quantity of yeast. This is far too much of a reduction.
A 10% reduction when doubling the recipe is sufficient however this amount is negligible when you consider the other variables that may be considered such as temperature and the freshness of the yeast. Where the final dough size is under 1500 grams the amount of yeast used is not reduced, the mass effect has little to no impact at these small dough sizes.
Do I change the mixing times for larger or smaller amounts of dough?
As batch sizes increase the dough will require more effort from the mixer to knead. Professional dough mixers will knead dough without resistance. They are powerful enough that they don’t slow down as they pass heavy amounts of dough around the bowl.
Less powerful stand mixers a likely to find it harder to knead larger amounts of dough therefore the mixing time of the dough may have to be increased. A 10-20% increase in the mixing time is usually all that is required.
Why do I have trouble kneading in a mixer when I change the size of my dough batch?
Mixers have an ideal dough weight that they are most comfortable mixing. Some dough mixers really struggle making small amounts of dough but work fantastic when the approach capacity. Other mixers can slow down or struggle with large batches, especially when the dough has a low water ratio.
These are the limitations of the equipment so without trading up our equipment it is best to learn how the mixer reacts when the dough weight changes and adjust our batch sizes accordingly.