Baker’s percentage! Maths! Excel!

So baker percentage is an easy way to see your baking ratio – that is except for math illiterates like me but King Arthur flour has a good math website. The WildYeast website also has even a four-part tutorial if you want to go a bit deeper. The ratio is flour based so water, salt and starter are in percentage of flour. Which makes sense really as flour is always the main ingredient. For example –

No knead rosemary polenta bread.

percentage % grams ingredient
100 800 bread flour
41.88 335 water
15 120 starter
2.75 22 salt
22.5 180 cooked polenta
12.5 100 milk

No knead work loaf.

percentage grams ingredient
100% 450 bread flour
50% 225 water
22.22% 100 starter
2.22% 10 salt

Are baker percentage intrinsic to baking bread? No, but they are great if you want to quickly and precisely calculate batches and ingredients. There is a really long discussion with lots of comment on the fresh loaf about this (it does get wonky and even a little snippy). The weekend bakery also has a dough calculator to make it easy for you.

Another use for baker percentage is too quickly and easily compare recipes by its ingredients. For example, what is the best hydration for a plain boule to get the best crumb? I have tested 70% all the way down to 45% water to flour ratio. Ie from my excel workbook –

percentage grams ingredient
highest hydration
100 450 bread flour
65 292.5 water
25 112.5 starter
2.25 10.12 salt
medium hydration
100 450 bread flour
58 262 water
25 112.5 starter
2.25 10.12 salt
driest hydration
100 450 bread flour
55 262 water
25 247.5 starter
2.25 10.12 salt

I found that for the best hydration ration is around 50%-60%. Over 60% the boule doesn’t keep its shape is more ciabatta. Under 55% you don’t really get an\y nice bubbly holes.  It is easy too quickly draw up a table and easy to set up on an excel workbook.

Anyways you don’t have to use it but it is a helpful tool for bread making and general baking because both rely so much on precise ratios.