After mastering a handful of bread recipes, learning how to increase the batch size of a recipe is a natural step. Batch baking allows you to make more loaves of bread using a similar amount of effort, saving you time and money. Some bakers get confused, especially when wondering if they should double the yeast if the recipe is doubled, so I’ve written this article to help you clear a few things up.
Ultimately, there are two cases where increasing the size of a dough recipe is necessary:
Some dough recipes are suited to make different varieties of bread. The same white bread dough will often be used in bloomers, farmhouse loaves, sandwich bread, Pullman bread, crusty rolls, iced buns, and sometimes baguettes! Increasing the batch size saves time used to weigh and mix the ingredients. It does have its drawbacks, in that all the bread tastes the same! After mixing, you can change how you manipulate each bread type to make each unique.
We might also need to make less dough by decreasing the batch size of the dough. For this, the same technique is used. Let me show you how it works.
To determine how much we need of each ingredient when you want to make twice as much, you just double the recipe, easy. But when it comes to other calculations, it becomes harder to do the maths accurately.
Adjusting the quantities required for each ingredient is essential to achieve consistency in our bread every time. Spending a bit of time to properly adjust the weight of each ingredient will save you time faffing around later on trying to save it!
We use a baker’s formula to calculate what each ingredient should be as we scale up or down a bread recipe. This is essentially the formula of the recipe given in percentages 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.
Let’s use an example where the recipe has a batch size of one loaf, and we will change it to make three loaves of bread. Here’s the recipe in its current form:
480g white flour 50g wholemeal flour 350g water 11g salt 12g yeast Total dough weight = 903g
Add all the flour used in the recipe. There’s no adding up required for recipes using just one type of flour. For those with more than two flour types, 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 as 100%. The total flour weight is what we base the quantities of the remaining ingredients from and will always be 100%. To calculate the percentages of the remaining ingredients, we take their weight, divide it by the total weight 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 0,66 * 100 = 66%
And then using the same method of:
(weight of ingredient / weight of total flour) x 100 = Baker's percentage
We work out the baker’s percentage for all the remaining ingredients, not forgetting we have two types of flour, so these will also have to be calculated separately.
White flour = 91% Wholemeal flour = 9% (the total flour will always add up to 100%) Water = 66% Salt = 2.1% Yeast = 2.3%
We have now calculated the baker’s percentages for all the ingredients and produced our baker’s formula for the recipe.
To increase or decrease the amount of dough we want, first, we need to find the new total flour weight. As we are tripling the recipe, we will multiply the original total flour weight be 3.
530 * 3 = 1590
Using the new total flour weight we use the following formula:
( Total flour weight / 100 ) x ingredient percentage = ingredient weight
And calculate the new weight of each ingredient:
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 now have our new recipe with the same ratio of ingredients as the original. It’s up to you if you wish to round up the figures to “rounder numbers,” which will lose accuracy but make the recipe more friendly to read and follow:
1447g white flour 143g wholemeal flour 1049g water 33.4g salt 36.6g yeast
We can create a spreadsheet to quickly work out these calculations similar to this baker’s formula. Suppose you have a reasonable knowledge of using spreadsheets such as Excel or Google Sheets. In that case, it is straightforward to set up. Here’s a baker’s formula for my basic white bread.
As I scaled my business, I used a similar spreadsheet that added up the daily orders and told me how much dough I needed for each recipe. I would need to tailor the flour weight on each recipe to match the required amount of dough, and my recipes would be ready to go. This technique meant I could calculate my entire night’s production in 5 minutes with minimal waste.
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 making more than one bread from a batch of dough, you will divide the dough into individual pieces to form your individual bread. This dividing should take place after bulk fermentation so that the dough structure is developed sufficiently to retain gas and rise. Dividing at the end of bulk fermentation is also best because it saves on space, and you’re dough gains the full benefit of the mass effect (see further).
In certain circumstances, you can divide the dough before bulk fermentation ends. These situations include separating a master dough for adding additional ingredients or making different bread shapes that want separate proofing/fermentation conditions.
Making a larger batch size to enjoy fresh bread the following day is a handy trick that will 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 fermentation rate. 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 in the fridge will determine when 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 sourdough or low-yeast bread, this is not the case. In this situation, the dough can be bulk fermented at ambient temperatures before tomorrow’s dough is separated, shaped, and left in the fridge for a final overnight proof.
Flour contains many different particles, varying from plant to plant and even grain to grain. The contents are affected by different amounts of sunlight, water, the soil, or as the French say, the “Terroir.”
As dough ferments, yeast and flour enzymes break down the starch. This leads to yeast respiration and later bread fermentation, where carbon dioxide, ethanol, and lactic and organic acids are produced.
Bigger batches of dough clearly contain more flour which introduces more variations of starch to the dough. A big batch of dough contains a wider variety of minerals and bacteria, which help the yeast and the enzymes to work faster. The increase in the rate of fermentation and the varieties of developed enzymes create a dough with superior flavour and maturity. 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.
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 usually so negligible it’s not worth bothering about. Especially when you consider the other variables that may change between batches, such as temperature and the freshness of the yeast. Where the total dough size is under 1500 grams, the amount of yeast used is not reduced, so the mass effect has little to no impact on these small dough sizes.
When doubling a recipe it is better to reduce the first and second rise durations. This is why it’s better to learn what dough should look when you are ready to end bulk fermentation than simply watching the clock.
As batch sizes increase, the dough will require more effort from the mixer to knead. Professional dough mixers knead dough without resistance. They are powerful enough to not slow down as they knead stiff or large amounts of dough. Less powerful stand mixers a likely to find it harder to knead more significant 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.
Mixers have an ideal dough weight that they are most comfortable mixing. Some dough mixers struggle to make small amounts of dough but work fantastic when they 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.