Baker’s percentages

Discussion in 'Bread' started by JustJoel, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. JustJoel

    JustJoel Member

    Jan 3, 2018
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    Las Vegas
    I think I’m getting the hang (and the math) of baker’s percentages and master formulas. It seems that “master recipe” is a misnomer; it seems every chef has their own!

    Basic bread is easy, just four ingredients, 100% flour, hydration expressed as a percent of the flour, yada yada. I start getting frustrated with “auxiliary” ingredients. “If you’re adding eggs or butter to your recipe, make sure to allow for that in the hydration!” is what every article says, but these articles never say just how much to compensate. Do I subtract the weight of the eggs from the total hydration? And butter our oil? Do I again subtract the weight of the butter or oil from the total hydration? Or is there some sub formula like “for every egg subtract 20 grams from the total hydration,” or “reduce hydration by 10g per 50 grams of fat.” I really need some mentoring here!

    Thanks for your help!
    JustJoel, Feb 2, 2018
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  2. JustJoel

    Becky Well-Known Member

    Mar 26, 2013
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    I think the reason that there is no 'master formula' is that it can vary so much. The proportion of ingredients can depend on the type of flour (they're all different, and even the same flour can vary by region) and even the humidity where you are baking. People who are good with baking bread develop a feel for it after a while, but more because of a familiarity with how the texture of the dough should be rather than a formula in their head. Anyway that's just my take on things!
    Becky, Feb 2, 2018
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  3. JustJoel

    ChesterV Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2015
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    If you want the "math" for baking, Norcalbaker is the one to talk to!!! She got that brainy stuff down!!!! LOL

    Becky is right though, it all depends. There are just TOO MANY "if's", "and's", "but's", and "because's" in baking to really have a master recipe on anything. So many things play so many small parts in baking, even if you use the same recipe over and over again, more than likely there will still be variances.

    I never got into the math of baking. I use my logic and wits. If you know how ingredients interact with each other, then thats all I think anyone should know, as everything else is just "to your taste". Even for something as basic as bread or cake. SO many variances depending on what type of bread or cake you want.

    And it's the same for cooking as well. You may have a standard recipe you use for a casserole, but whether you add and egg or not will depend on how it comes out (as an example).

    Things that play a part in baking, besides the obvious......

    Equipment types
    Mixing variances
    Ingredient storage
    Ingredient freshness

    But if you are into the math of it all, then Norcalbaker is the brain for that!
    ChesterV, Feb 2, 2018
    Becky and Norcalbaker59 like this.
  4. JustJoel

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2017
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    Northern California
    There is no standard to convert a bread recipe into an enriched dough.

    There’s so many different types of enriched though so it really comes down to what it is you want to bake.

    Challah contains egg and oil. Oil contains zero water in it. But egg has water.

    Brioche contains egg, milk, butter, all three contain considerable amount of water. So converting the bread recipe to brioche is going to be dramatically different from challah.

    Panettone is similar to brioche in many ways. But usually contains significantly more egg yolk. So it’s going to have a different standard.

    But I think you’re just confusing yourself by thinking you can convert any bread recipe into an enriched. The approach is to study recipes of the different types of enriched dough. You begin to see the ratio ranges of each type of dough. While recipes for the same type of enriched doughs may have some variation on ratios, there’s going to be upper and lower limits for each ingredient.

    Once you understand the ratios for that particular type of dough you don’t necessarily need a recipe.

    For instance my piecrust “recipe” reads:

    1” = 15g flour
    Method: rough puff pastry
    Flour 1.00 <10% protein
    Butter .80
    Water .28
    Salt .01
    Sugar .07

    My blueberry muffin reads
    375°F 20 min
    Method: creaming

    Flour 1.0 10% protein, malted
    Baking powder .05
    Baking soda .02
    Salt .01
    Sugar .67
    Butter .38
    Egg .33
    Buttermilk .80
    Vanilla .05
    Blueberries .80 - 1.0

    Streusel topping
    1:1:1:1 flour, almond flour, butter, sugar
    Water to moisten

    Check any piecrust recipe and blueberry muffin recipe, and you’ll see that the ratios I use are pretty close to the vast majority of recipes out there.

    So the key is not to try to take your bread recipe and turn it into challah or brioche, but study the different types of doughs you want to make and learn the upper/lower ratios.

    There is no standard formula that you can apply because every dough and batter has different ingredients in different ratios in order to achieve a certain flavor and characteristics unique to the final product. In culinary classes you learn and study the different categories of baked goods based on those characteristics. In a module on laminated doughs you’re not going to be looking at bread. And it’s because students need to understand the ratios and the ingredients that go into laminated doughs to create its unique characteristics. They don’t teach students to convert bread recipes into croissants.
    Norcalbaker59, Feb 2, 2018
    Becky likes this.
  5. JustJoel

    rubato456 Member

    Jul 26, 2018
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    leipzig, germany
    i often use butter in my challahs instead of oil and butter i image has more moisture because its a dairy product? not sure. but i never rely totally on a recipe. i use it as a guide but not an absolute, you must learn to rely of the feel of the dough how it feels to work with. and absolutely the weather makes a huge difference how humid it is will affect how much water your flour absorbs and also how you store your flour. i always do the "window test to be sure my gluten is developed enough. better to use less flour you can always add more. big mistake is to add too much the start. baking bread is messy and fun. i finally decided to invest in a stand mixer and i'm so glad i did. it does the heavy mixing for me. but i still hover over it and test the dough mixing carefully and not too much not too high a setting. it all takes time and effort but its so fun! nothing in the world like fresh baked bread that looks beautiful to boot. one of the 7 wonders of the world lol :) so glad i decided to joint this group. this is gonna be fun!

    does anyone grind their own flour? i've wondered about this but never done it. i bet if done right it would yield wonderful breads (when compelled with wonderful baking )
    rubato456, Jul 27, 2018
    Norcalbaker59 likes this.
  6. JustJoel

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2017
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    Northern California
    Oh yes, the feel of the dough is key. :D
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 27, 2018
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