Bread Baker Percentages and What it Means to the Home Baker

Bakers Percentages

If you are like me, you may love to be on the look out for new recipes.  One place I love to look is manufactures and agriculture organizations.  Many times they have recipes geared towards the professional baker and their recipes are written much differently than a home recipe.

Recipes geared towards the professional baker many time are written as formulas.

So what is the difference?  Well the formula has all the ingredients listed as a percentage of the total amount of flour in the recipe.  There really are no other measurements given.

Example #1

If you check out this recipe for Honey Challah bread from the Baking with Honey web site.

It is a simple ingredient list written in bakers percentages.

Ingredients Bakers Percents Weight in Grams Volume in Cups
182.55 grams
Bread Flour 100% 100 grams
Water 40% 40 grams
Yeast (fresh cake) 3.75% 3.75 grams (fresh)
Egg Yolks 20% 20 grams
Vegetable Oil 10% 10 grams
Honey 7% 7 grams
Salt 1.8% 1.8 grams

You will see that this has an ingredient not readily available – fresh compressed yeast.  So we have to convert fresh yeast to instant yeast.  Also a finished pre-baked loaf should weight about 18 ounces or about 510 grams. . . But why make just one when you can make 2 loaves just as easy. . . 2 loaves at 18 ounces each is 1020 grams.

From using our chart above, we know that by bakers percentages  we will need to multiply the ingredient weights by 1020/182.55 = 5.6.

Ingredients Bakers Percents Weight in Grams Amount for 2 loaves
182.55 grams  18 ounces each
Bread Flour 100% 100 grams  560 grams
Water 40% 40 grams  224 grams
Yeast (fresh cake) 3.75% 3.75 grams (fresh)  21 grams (fresh yeast)
Egg Yolks 20% 20 grams  112 grams
Vegetable Oil 10% 10 grams  56 grams
Honey 7% 7 grams  39 grams
Salt 1.8% 1.8 grams  10 grams

As you can see if we were using a scale, we could easily weigh out the ingredients without an attempt to convert to volume,  but most people in the US are fearful of weighing out their ingredients and think it is too hard.  Well you can see from the above example scaling a recipe is quite easy when you are dealing with weighs.  A good kitchen scale should run you under $40.  I use a 35 pound postal scale which I can place a bowl on, zero it and then add my ingredients.  It is super easy and the added benefit from the scale is I can use it for shipping.

 

Ingredients Bakers Percents Amount for 2 loaves Volume
18 ounces each  in US cups
Bread Flour 100% 560 grams 4-2/3 cups
Water 40% 224 grams 1 cup
Yeast (fresh cake) 3.75% 21 grams (fresh yeast) 1 tablespoon instant yeast
Egg Yolks 20% 112 grams 8 large egg yolks
Vegetable Oil 10% 56 grams 1/4 cup
Honey 7% 39 grams 2 tbsp
Salt 1.8% 10 grams 1½ teaspoons

The conversion I used to convert fresh compressed yeast came from Red Star.  According to their web site a 2 ounce cake is the equivalent to a trifold pack of yeast or 0.6 ounces of fresh yeast equals 1/4 ounce instant yeast.

A note on the conversions – I have rounded some items up or down to make them who amounts which could result in slight changes.  But hopefully these will fall within the ranges of normal measuring errors of most people.  Remember to get the most accurate is to weigh the ingredients.

Why do I use grams in my measurements?  If you can count money you can easily deal with grams.  Grams are based on 10, just like the US Dollar.  When you get into US volume measurements, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon and how many tablespoons go into a cup.  And when you scale up or down you have to constantly convert cups to teaspoons and tablespoons. . .with grams you get a number and you weigh it out.  So simple.  But the choice is always yours.

 

I know I picked a simple recipe here with only one flour, but if you have more than one flour. . say  you had bread flour, all purpose flour, and whole wheat flour.. . .you would have to add the weights of the the three flours together to come up with your 100%. So you can have a recipe where you have 25% bread flour, 50% all-purpose flour and 25% whole wheat flour.

Many time I find it easiest if I take the formula bakers percents and set that the same as 100 then I add my weight up to come up with the total dough weigh.  I next determine my loaf size I want and scale accordingly.

I hope this helps explain bakers percentages.

I know I have not touched on the different formula methods for in baking but that is much more complicated with all the different methods out there.

Example #2

Now for a more complicated formula.  This recipe has bread flour and whole wheat flour.  The combination of the flours make the 100% flour part. In this example the oats arenot included as part of the flours.

Ingredients Bakers Percents Amount Volume
 183 976 grams
2.15 pounds
 in US cups
Bread Flour 86% 446 grams 3-3/4 cups
Whole Wheat flour 14% 73 grams 2/3 cup
Rolled Oats 9.1% 48 grams 1/2 cup
Ground Oats 9.1% 48 grams 1/2 cup rolled oats
ground fine in
food processor
Honey 10% 54 grams 3 tablespoons
Salt 2.4% 12.5 grams 1-3/4 teaspoons
Fresh Yeast 2% 10.5 grams 1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
Water 57% to 66%
See comment
284 grams 1 cup plus
3 tablespoons

As you know the amount of water needed in a loaf of bread can vary greatly depending upon storage conditions of the flour (how dry it is) and some other factors.  For this reason you always start out with the minimum amount of water needed – In this case 57% of the flour weight.  Have additional water as needed if the dough is too dry.  You should use no more than 66% of the flour weight in water.

A caution with the above formula/recipe. This is the overall amount of ingredients needed to produce a single loaf at 2.15 pounds.  You will probably end up with about a 2 pound loaf after baking.  This recipe uses a preferment or sponge which means a portion of the flour, water, salt and yeast is mixed into a dough and allowed to proof before making the dough.  This preferment adds strength to the end dough.

For the complete recipe and instructions check out Honey Oatmeal Batard at BakinWthHoney.com . While there you can watch 2 video on how to make the dough, shape and bake the loaves etc.

As you can see, this one is a little more complicated, but it follows the rules.

 

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