A baker calculating ingredients using baker's percentages

Baker’s Percentages

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Baker’s percentage is one of the most important concepts in baking; But what exactly are baker’s percentage, and how do you use it? This post aims to answer all of your general questions about baker’s percentages

Baker's percentages example
Calculation of baker’s percentages using PizzaBlab’s pizza dough calculator

Baker’s Percentages – Introduction

Before we dive into the topic of baker’s percentages, it is crucial to understand one thing about baking in general, and pizza baking in particular:
The quantities of each ingredient in the dough have a significant impact on both the behavior of the dough and the final product. Even a small variation of a few grams in a specific component (such as water, salt, oil, etc.) can result in a dough that behaves completely differently (hard, soft, sticky, stretchy, etc.) and produces a different final product.

The difference between using 1% and 3% sugar/salt/oil in the dough is significant and may yield completely different outcomes. Likewise, the distinction between using 60% water and 70% water is also significant and will result in a completely different dough. These differences can even amount to a few grams depending on the total quantity of dough.

For a more detailed explanation of how water (hydration) affects the dough, please refer to the entry on hydration in the Encyclopizza.

Therefore, when it comes to baking, precision in the amount (weight) of each ingredient is crucial – and this is where the concept of baker’s percentages comes into play, ensuring accuracy and consistency.

What Are Baker’s Percentages

Baker’s percentages are a crucial mathematical tool that serves as a “language” for writing, analyzing, and comparing baking recipes. The idea behind baker’s percentages is straightforward: flour is always regarded as the base for calculating the other ingredients in the dough, at 100%. In other words, in baker’s percentages, the flour is always set at 100% of the recipe, while the other ingredients are calculated in relation to it.
If the recipe includes a mixture of flours, the total amount of all the flours makes up this 100%.

For example, let’s take a look at the following recipe:

  • 100g flour
  • 60g water
  • 2g salt
  • 1g yeast

In order to convert this recipe to baker’s percentages, all we need to do is divide the weight of each ingredient by the weight of flour.

The recipe above, when expressed in baker’s percentages, will look like this:

  • 100% flour (flour is always set to 100%)
  • 60% water (‘dough hydration’) [60/100]
  • 2% salt [2/100]
  • 1% yeast [1/100]

Let’s try another example using a different recipe:

  • 491g flour
  • 314g water
  • 15g salt
  • 0.5g yeast

And in baker’s percentages:

  • 100% flour
  • 60% water [314/491]
  • 3% salt [15/491]
  • 0.1% yeast [0.5/491]

And that’s it – that’s all you need to know about baker’s percentages. At the end of this post, you will find the complete method for calculating baker’s percentages, but it is unnecessary to know it (for enrichment purposes only).

Note that baker’s percentages always refer to the amounts of ingredients in relation to the flour, rather than expressing the ingredients’ content as part of the total dough. For example, in the first recipe above, the water content is 60% in baker’s percentages (60% hydration), but it only accounts for 37% of the total weight of the dough (37 = 163 / 60). Similarly, the salt content is 2% in baker’s percentage, but it only makes up 1.2% of the entire dough (0.0122 = 163/2).

How to Use Baker’s Percentages

To easily use baker’s percentages, all you need to do is visit PizzaBlab’s dough calculator, enter the recipe numbers (percentages) in baker’s percentages, and you will promptly receive the required quantities (in grams) for each ingredient based on baker’s percentages.

What Are the Advantages of Using Baker’s Percentages?

These are the main advantages of using baker’s percentages:

  1. Since baker’s percentages represent the ratio of each ingredient to the flour, they allow us to adapt any recipe (written in baker’s percentages) to any desired amount of dough. In other words, baker’s percentages enable us to achieve consistent dough with the same properties, regardless of the quantity, and easily prepare any desired quantity of dough.
  2. Baker’s percentages offer the flexibility to make controlled changes to the recipe and adjust the ratios of the various ingredients in the dough. For example, we can use 3% salt instead of 2% salt, 62% water instead of 60% water, or 2% oil instead of 1% oil. These adjustments are crucial because, as mentioned earlier, even small changes in the recipe can significantly impact the dough.
  3. Baker’s percentages enable the comparison and sharing of recipes and dough in an intuitive and efficient manner. As baker’s percentages serve as the “language” of the baking world, they provide the easiest and most convenient way to compare or share recipes. Once we have the baker’s percentages of a recipe, we can easily replicate it according to our desired quantities; This is in contrast to recipes that use absolute measurements (grams), which require using the exact amounts specified in the recipe to achieve the same result.
  4. Baker’s percentages are helpful for troubleshooting recipes and doughs. The first step in analyzing a recipe or dough is understanding its formula in baker’s percentages. As mentioned before, even minor changes in baker’s percentages can greatly impact the dough, therefore – analyzing the recipe using baker’s percentages is crucial for understanding the recipe and resolving any potential issues with it.

As you can understand, baker’s percentages are a valuable tool that allows us to work accurately, achieve consistent results, and compare and share our results and recipes with others. Therefore, this concept is a must-know – even if you are only an amateur baker!

How to Calculate Baker’s Percentages

As mentioned, this section is for enrichment purposes only. Using PizzaBlab’s dough calculator eliminates the need to know how to calculate baker’s percentages technically. However, if you are still interested in learning how baker’s percentages are calculated, then here you go.

  1. Determine the relative percentage of each ingredient in the dough based on the weight of the flour, including the flour, which is always 100%. Then, add them all together to obtain the total percentage of all ingredients in the dough. It’s important to note that the total percentage will always be greater than 100% because the flour alone accounts for 100%.
    In the example provided, the total percentage of ingredients is 163% (1% + 2% + 60% + 100%).
  2. Calculate the amount of flour needed by dividing the desired amount of dough by the total percentage of all ingredients.
    Using the example above, let’s say we want to make 500 grams of dough. The amount of flour required would be: 500/1.63 = 306. Therefore, for a recipe making 500 grams of dough, 306 grams of flour would be needed.
  3. Once we have determined the amount of flour needed, we can simply multiply this number by the percentage of each ingredient in the baker’s percentage to find the required quantity (in grams) of each ingredient.

Let’s do a quick calculation based on the example above:

100% flour + 60% water + 2% salt + 1% yeast = 163%.

We want to make 500 grams of dough using the recipe above: 500 / 1.63 = 306 (note that 1.63 = 163%).
Amount of flour required: 306 grams.

Now, let’s calculate the quantities of the other ingredients:

Water (60%): 0.6 * 306 = 183 grams
Salt (2%): 0.02 * 306 = 6 grams
Yeast (1%): 0.01 * 306 = 3 grams

If you add up the quantities (in grams) of all the ingredients, you will see that we have (approximately) 500 grams of dough (3 + 6 + 183 + 306).

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