"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. "
- Jonathan Kozol
In our last scoops we have been focusing a lot on ratios. Today I wish to introduce something that’s called a Bakers Percentage.
What is Baker’s Percent?
Baker’s percent is a mathematical method used in baking to calculate the amounts of macro or micro ingredients. It is dependent on the total weight of flour a recipe contains. In this formula we divide each ingredient’s weight by the total formula weight; bakers divide each ingredient by the weight of flour. Baker’s percent helps in assessing if a formula is drier, moist, saltier, sweeter, etc.
Baker’s percent is internationally used to express formulas for bakery products such as pan bread, buns, rolls, cookies, cakes, crackers, doughnuts, etc.
How does baker’s percent work?
In baker’s percent, the weight of the flour is always considered as 100%,
The total percent of all the other ingredients is always greater than 100%.
When it comes to general calculations the sum of all ingredients sum up to 100%. But this formulation is little different.
The mathematical equation for obtaining baker’s percent is:
Let’s have a look at the example here. Here the Weight is any weight taken by a baker. The Bakers % column denotes the ratio of all ingredients to the ratio of the flour. And the true column represents the percentage contribution of every ingredient in the recipe summing up to 100%
|Ingredient||Weight (Lb)||Baker’s %||True %|
|Defatted milk solids||2.4||2.0||1.136|
The benefit of using baker’s percent is that the bakers can change the quantity of any ingredient without refiguring the percentages of all other ingredients. This comes handy when we are trying to formulate new recipes. With the help of Bakers percentage you can make any quantity of product
So, for now I would request the readers to understand the percentage working properly and in our next scoop we will speak about the applications of the same.
The following steps are needed:
- Add total baker’s percent.
- Divide the desired or total batch weight by the total baker’s percent (in decimal form). This gives the weight of flour.
- Multiply the baker’s percent of each ingredient (in decimal form) times the weight of flour. This gives the weight of each ingredient needed to make the desired batch.
Baker’s percentage makes it easy to see at a glance the ingredient ratios and, therefore, the basic structure and composition of the dough or batter that will be obtained after mixing.1
By using baker’s percent, a baker can predict crumb structure from the dough water content or hydration. For example, 80% hydration (8 parts water to 10 parts flour) often leads to an airy and irregular crumb such as in Italian Ciabatta bread while 60% hydration (6 parts water to 10 parts flour) yields denser and closed crumb similar to American-style bread. More accurate predictions can be made when hydration numbers are combined with information on type of flour used.
There are many advantages to using baker’s percent as opposed to other forms of measurement. Baker’s percent leads to greater consistency in recipes because it is always based on weight (pounds or kilograms). Advantages of applying the baker’s percent approach include:2
- Ease and simplicity of scaling up or down formulas to meet higher or lower demands
- Consistency of results
- Quickness to correct defects in the formula (it is easier to tell if one recipe is drier, sweeter or saltier than another recipe)
- Ability to check if a formula is well-balanced
- Precision of measurement and eliminating/fixing scale errors
- Common language among bakers when comparing formulas
- Consistency in production
- Ease of calculating the water absorption or hydration of the flour
- Ease in predicting how the final product will look like
- Scaling/metering equipment used in automated production lines can be designed and configured to work with set points based on baker’s % or true %. The chosen method in this case could be a function of precise control on the exact water absorption value of flour, as other ingredients (e.g., sweetener syrups, molasses, cream yeast, eggs) also contribute with some water to the final dough.
- When multiple flours such as whole wheat, rye, cornmeal, or wheat patent are used in a formula as in the case of multigrain and high-fiber breads, the total weight of all flour- and grain-type ingredients is usually assigned to be 100%. All other ingredients in the formula are calculated as a percentage of the total of these ingredients.3,4