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Of course, whilst understanding your ingredients will help you make great bread, the key factor in developing your own recipes is consistency.

You need to be able to accurately measure your raw materials and create a formula balance (so that the ingredients used in a recipe remain in the same ratio, irrespective of the size of the batch you are making). Being able to do this is what allows you to be confident your bread will turn out every time and also allows you to be able to communicate your results and pass them on to other people.

THE BAKER SAYS: "Bread making is a science that relies on various ingredients being present in specific quantities so that certain chemical reactions can occur at measurable speeds. Variations of ingredients and quantities can have a dramatic effect on your bread dough and final bread products and while amazing new ideas and methods can result from happy accidents, if the quantities are unknown, the happy accident cannot be converted to a new recipe anyway, so – ALWAYS MEASURE YOUR INGREDIENTS".

Bakers Percentage %

Because measurement and proportion are so important in the baking process, Baker's write their recipes as formulas and they use a technique known as the Bakers Percentage. That is: they write their bread recipes out in mathematical form and they express the flour quantity as 100%. All other ingredients are then described as percentages of this flour weight.

To make a batch of bread using the formula, the first thing you need to do is to convert the formula from Bakers Percentage to a Per Kilo Flour Weight formula – remember, bakers base all their ingredients on flour weight. To do this we simply multiply the flour weight by the ingredient percentages.

A typical bread recipe then, written as a Baker's Percentage would look like this:

Flour 100%
Salt 2%
Improver 1%
Oil 2%
Yeast 3%
Water 60%
TOTAL: 168%

If, for instance, you wanted to make a batch of bread using 1 kilo of flour, once you multiplied your ingredients out, your formula would become:

Formula for 1 kilo of flour

INGREDIENT % 1 Kg Flour weight dough
Flour 100% 1.000 Kg
Salt 2% 0.020 Kg
Improver 1% 0.010 Kg
Oil 2% 0.020 Kg
Yeast 3% 0.030 Kg
Water 60% 0.600 Kg
TOTAL: 168% 1.680 Kg
Please Note: one of the side effects of using the flour weight as the basis for the formulas is that liquid ingredients then need to be measured by WEIGHT not VOLUME as would normally be the case in other recipes.

Try working out a recipe yourself for a batch using 5 kilos of flour.

Calculate Bakers Percentage Tool

  • Check the results you got for your 5 kilo batch above.
  • Input flour weight if you want to do your own calculations
INGREDIENT % Kg weight 
Flour 100

Salt 2%
Improver 1%
Oil 2%
Yeast 3%
Water 60%
TOTAL: 168%
Please Note: most mistakes made using the Baker's Percentage happen because figures have not been written down correctly or either the zero or the decimal point has been left out or put in the wrong spot.
Scale Dial

You will also notice from the tables above that by adding up the kilo weights, you can get a total weight for your actual batch – this can be very useful for working out how many individual loaves or buns, etc. a particular sized batch will make.

When discussing recipes though, be careful not to get confused between the flour weight and the actual dough weight.

French toast

This basic bread formula can be adapted in many ways to make many different styles of bread and though there are accepted ratios of one ingredient to another, individual recipes can vary to quite a staggering degree. For instance: Brioche is a very rich, sweet, traditional French bread (often used to make French toast in fact!). To make it, essentially you adapt the formula above by changing the oil to butter. The percentage of butter to flour in brioche recipes can be as high as 60% - and likewise, the egg percentage could rise as high as 60% and there may be up to 20% sugar – a pretty decadent bread indeed!, but still easy to express using the formula method.

Flour Combinations

In bread making, a combination of two or more types of flour is often desirable for flavour, texture or appearance. This is easily expressed using the Baker's Percentage method. You just need to ensure that the total flour weight is still 100%.

Flour Types

Normal Flour

Wholemeal Plain Flour

Buckwheat Flour

Besan Chickpea Flour

Maize Flour

Light Rye Flour

Corn Meal

Almond Meal

White Spelt

As well as these fairly readily available flour types, using a home mill or buying from a speciality mill or health food shop with a mill, it is also possible to grind or get quite a few different grains ground to your specifications and in the quantities and ratios you desire.

Grain Types

Wheat Grains

Spelt Grains

Rye Grains

Millet Grains

Red Quinoa Grains

Buckwheat Grains

Barley Grains

Amaranth Grains

These speciality flours and mixes are particularly useful in advanced and speciality bread making, where a combination of two or more types of flour is often desirable for flavour, texture or appearance. These combinations are easily expressed using the Baker's Percentage method. You just need to ensure that the total flour weight is still 100%.

Bakers Flour 50%
Dark Rye Flour 25%
Diastatic Malt Flour 15%
Spelt Flour 10% 
Total flour weight 100% 

Whole Grains

Whilst we have touched on the different types of grains used to make flour above, it is also quite common to include whole, kibbled or flaked grains in bread as well.

These grains can either be calculated in the flour weight itself or alternatively, they can be included after it (with the salt, oil, etc).

As an aside, whilst you always use the dry weight of grains for recipes and formulas, it is usual to soak most whole and kibbled grains in water for either a few hours or overnight before adding them to the dough. The water percentage of the formula may need to be reduced slightly to compensate for this soaking. As a general rule, grains absorb just under their own weight in water, but you may need to adjust this according to the grain and the amount of time you leave it to soak. Rolled oats, for instance, absorb water both like a sponge and extremely quickly, but any kibbled grain will both absorb much less water and take far longer to do so...

Formulas with a combination of two or more flours and/or whole or kibbled grains expressed in both Baker's Percentage and as a Per KiloFlour Weight Dough would then look like this:

% 1 Kg Flour
weight dough
3 kg Flour
weight dough
Bakers Flour 50% 0.500 1.500
Wholemeal 20% 0.300 0.900
Light Rye Flour 10% 0.100 0.300
Kibbled Wheat 5% 0.050 0.150
Rolled Oats 5% 0.050 0.150
Flour Total: 100% 1.000 kg 3.000 kg
Salt 2% 0.020 0.060
Oil 2% 0.020 0.060
Yeast 4.5% 0.045 0.135
Water 60% 0.600 1.800
Dough Total: 168.5% 1.685 kg 5.055 kg

Using the formula, you can now not only work out your ingredient weights/quantities, you can calculate your:

Expected Yield

This is the total size of your dough batch and is calculated by adding up the individual ingredient weights. For instance, in the example above, the expected yield of a 1 kg flour weight dough batch is 1.685 kg dough, the expected yield from a 3 kg flour weight dough is 5.055 kg. From this figure you can decide how to divide up your batch (e.g., will I make 5 x 1 kg loaves or 3 x 1 kg loaves and 20 x 100 g buns with my batch?)

For the record, a standard loaf is usually made from 780 g of dough. Big bread rolls require around 80 g, and dinner rolls and small rolls are usually made with about 65 g.

Due to the evaporation of most of the water in the dough, the weight of the finished bread is always lighter. Your standard 780 g dough weight bread  for instance will yield up a 680 g finished loaf.

Required Yield

Calculator keypad

The other way to use the figures is of course to work backwards. You can start with what you want to end up with and work back to see how much of your ingredients you will need to make a batch of a certain size.

For instance, if I want to end up with enough dough in my batch to make 10 x 1 kg loaves, using the formula above (where my expected yield percentage is 168.5%), that means a dough batch of 10 kilos represents 168.5 % of my flour weight. This means that my flour weight should be (10 divided by 168.50 x 100 =) 5.934 kilos, my salt weight should be (5.934 divided by 100 x 2 =) 0.11868 grams (rounded up to .119 here and to 12 or possibly even 15 in your receipe!), etc.

See if you can calculate out the rest of the formula for the 10 x 1kg required yield batch.

Answer for the 10 x 1kg required yield batch.
Bakers Flour 50% 2.967
Wholemeal 30% 1.780
Light Rye Flour 10% 0.593
Kibbled Wheat 5% 0.297
Rolled Oats 5% 0.297
Flour Total: 100% 5.934 kg
Salt 2% 0.119
Oil 2% 0.119
Yeast 4.5% 0.267
Water 60% 3.560
Dough Total: 168.5% 9.999 kg (NOTE: a good way to check if this calculation
is correct is to add up the individual totals you get (here 9.999 kg)
and see if that figure really is the dough total percentage (here 168.5)
of your flour total (here 5.934).

Other Ingredients You Can Add

As well as whole and kibbled grains, there are obviously a multitude of other ingredients you can add to your bread mix or sprinkle or roll over the surface of your uncooked loaves (and thus, they should be weighed and include in your recipes).

These ingredients would not form part of the flour weight, but their size and moisture quantities (and their temperature – more about that later!) must be taken in to account. It is also often necessary/desirable to cook, soften or soak some of the ingredients in advance. For instance: dried fruit is usually soaked in some form of liquid overnight before use, vegetables are usually cooked or cut up very finely and all protein additions should be cooked and their condition closely monitored.














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