Author Topic: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool  (Read 19187 times)

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Offline Boy Hits Car

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Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« on: April 10, 2007, 09:49:36 AM »
I am pleased to introduce the latest dough calculating tool—the Preferment Dough Calculating Tool. This tool, which is available at http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_tools.html, was designed primarily for use with natural preferments. Natural preferments are those consisting of only flour, water and natural (wild) yeast. Although many members use natural preferments all by themselves, other members prefer to supplement them with commercial yeast. The new tool allows one to have that option if desired. The term “preferment” as used with the new tool is intended to be broad enough to cover its use purely as a leavening agent, as is sometimes done for Neapolitan-style doughs and where typically the amount of the preferment is very small.

For best results, the Preferment tool should be used with proven dough formulations where there is a known set of workable baker’s percents. Beyond that, one is free to create new dough formulations, but with the caution that entering a given set of data into the tool does not guarantee a workable dough formulation. But, within the parameters of the tool, there should be many opportunities to devise new and creative dough formulations.

The following are the key features of the new tool:

Thickness Factor and Dough Weight Options. Like the earlier tools (Lehmann and Deep-Dish), the Preferment tool gives users two options by which the ingredients and their quantities can be specified—the Thickness Factor option and the Dough Weight option. To use the Thickness Factor option, the user enters a known thickness factor (TF), a set of workable baker’s percents, the pizza size, and the desired number of pizzas. The user can also specify the desired shape of the pizza—either round or rectangular (which includes square). The latter feature should be especially useful to those who wish to make Sicilian or similar-style pizzas. In selecting this feature, the tool prompts the user to specify the dimensions (length and width) of the pizza (or of the particular pan to be used).

For those who are interested, for a round pizza with a radius R, the TF equals the weight of the desired dough ball divided by Pi (3.14159) x R2; for a rectangular/square pizza with length and width dimensions L x W, the TF equals the weight of the dough ball divided by L x W.

The Dough Weight option is especially useful to those who already have a dough weight in mind to begin with. To use this option, the user enters that dough weight along with a known set of baker’s percents and the number of dough balls desired. The dough ball weight can be specified in either grams or ounces. There is no need to enter a thickness factor with this option.

In each of the above scenarios, the Preferment tool will produce a set of data (ingredients and quantities) corresponding to the data entered into the tool.

Preferment. The Preferment tool allows users to specify the amount of preferment in any one of three different ways: 1) as a percent of total formula flour, 2) as a percent of total formula water, or 3) as a percent of total dough weight. Often, the particular method used by a given dough recipe is specified, or it can be calculated from the ingredients and their quantities as specified in the recipe. In addition to specifying the particular preferment method, the user is required to specify the percent of water used in the preferment. This is not the same as the “hydration” of the preferment (defined as the weight of water divided by the weight of flour, and expressed as a percent), but rather the ratio of water, by weight, to the total weight of the preferment. This method was intentionally selected since it appears to be the more common method among many of our members who regularly work with natural preferments.

Preferment/Commercial Yeast Combination. As indicated above, users can supplement a natural preferment with commercial yeast. The supplementation takes place as part of the final mix when the preferment is combined with all of the remaining ingredients, including the commercial yeast, to prepare the final dough. The commercial yeast can be active dry yeast (ADY), instant dry yeast (IDY) or cake yeast, as desired.

Salt Options, and Oil and Sugar. Along with the standard salt choices, the Preferment tool also allows one to select the Diamond Crystal brand of Kosher salt, which some members prefer over the Morton’s brand or is the only Kosher salt brand available to them where they shop. Also, users can elect to use oil and/or sugar as part of the dough formulation. The oil and sugar choices should be especially useful to those who use a preferment to make Neapolitan style pizzas in standard (unmodified) home ovens.

Bowl Residue. To compensate for minor losses of dough that can occur during preparation (due to flour, water and dough sticking to bowls, implements, fingers, work surfaces, etc.), the tool allows users to increase the quantities of ingredients to compensate for such losses by specifying a percent increase. That percent will vary from case to case, but unless one is making a very wet and sticky dough it will usually be less than 4%. It is anticipated that users will determine the best percent to use in any given situation based on experience. If the finished dough exceeds the desired final dough weight, those with scales can trim the final finished dough of the excess.

It will be noted that when the Thickness Factor method is used, the “final” thickness factor reflecting the bowl residue amount will appear in the data section, and also in a printout of the results produced by the Deep-Dish tool. To preserve all of the data, including the initial thickness factor before compensation, it is strongly recommended that users print out a copy of the completed page, using the “Print” button provided for this purpose.

Presentation of Data. The Preferment tool was designed to conform to the way that preferment-based dough formulations are typically constructed and displayed, but using a text format rather than charts and graphs. There are three parts to the textual data presentation: Total Formula, Preferment, and Final Dough. The Total Formula section represents the total dough formulation and displays all of the underlying baker’s percents, but for the Preferment itself. A part of the flour and water used in the Total Formula represents the Preferment itself, which is shown separately below the Total Formula data. The last section, the Final Dough section, provides all of the remaining ingredients and their quantities that are combined, along with the Preferment, to prepare the final dough. For most users, the Final Dough section will be sufficient by itself. However, the totality of data may be useful to those who wish to copy and paste all of the data in posts on the forum.

Expanded Data Fields. Like the other dough calculating tools, the Preferment tool has been designed to have expanded data fields for several of the boxes into which values are entered so that users can enter numbers with several decimal places. This should allow for increased precision and fine-tuning of the results produced by the tool, particularly for those who convert existing recipes to baker’s percents and calculate thickness factors and the like and end up with numbers with several decimal places. It will be noted that if a user fails to enter a number into a box as required, that is, the entry box is left completely blank, the failure to enter a number (even a 0) will cause the error expression “NaN” to appear in the data section.

Copy Feature. A Copy “button” is included in the Preferment tool to allow users to copy information from the textual data sections into posts or some other document, such as a Word document that might be used to compose replies to be posted on the forum. The information copied can be entered directly into the posts or other documents, by using a menu “paste” command or a “Control + V” keyboard command. Using the Copy button ensures that all of the data line up, thereby eliminating the need to do corrective “realignment” work when previewing replies to be posted on the forum.

“Stealth” Lehmann-like Tool. A clever and useful feature of the new tool is that if no preferment inputs are entered into the tool, the tool will behave just like the recently updated Lehmann tool but without recommended baker’s percents. The only section of the data displayed will be the Total Formula data field.

Baker's Percents Usage.This tool is intended to work with normal baker's percents, and entries should be made as such in the tool. There should be no leading 0s. For example, if the hydration percent is 62%, it should be entered into the applicable field in the tool as the number 62, not 062. Otherwise, the results will be incorrect.

Many of the features described above will become more readily apparent from using the tool or by simply playing around with the tool by entering different sets of values. I am sure that Pete-zza, who worked with me on the tool, will have additional helpful comments and observations.

- Mike
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 03:06:47 PM by Pete-zza »


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2007, 11:09:40 AM »
Incredible job, Mike. This tool will surely prove to be one of the most valuable features of this great site.

Bill/SFNM

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2007, 12:37:34 PM »
Having been involved with Mike in the design process of the Preferment tool, I would like to offer a few comments. But before presenting them, I’d like to first thank Mike (Boy Hits Car) for all his hard work in programming the new tool. This tool was a lot tougher and took a lot longer to produce than the Lehmann and Deep-Dish tools. A lot of possible designs were considered based on the large number of preferment types that exist in the baking universe but after going down a few dead ends we decided that the most useful preferment tool would be one that was limited to natural preferments. In the process, we added a lot of bells and whistles that came out of the experience with the Lehmann and Deep-Dish tools.

I’d also like to thank Bill/SFNM and scott r, who were kind enough to “beta test” the new tool by using it in their actual dough making. They also offered up several suggestions, all of which were incorporated in the new tool. Along with some backtesting using some of my prior dough formulations, I also used one of Bill’s basic dough formulations to test the tool. I converted his formulation to the three different ways of expressing the preferment and got the same output data, which told me that the programming of the math was correct.

In my view, the most difficult part of the new tool from the user’s standpoint is the preferment portion. Preferments can be expressed in so many different ways. But there were three ways that seemed to be the most common from our research, and we limited the tool to those three. But, even within each approach, there can be many variations. And the best I can offer here are some rough guidelines.

For example, when a preferment is expressed as a percentage of total formula flour, a range of 15-20% appears to be common (it’s the one I have used on many occasions based on the recommendation of member bakerboy). But, in the bread world, I have seen 30-40% and higher. At the higher levels, a dough is likely to result in a crust with breadlike qualities and texture and other attributes that come with using a large volume of preferment.

When a preferment is expressed as a percentage of total water, as is commonly done when using a natural preferment as a leavening agent in Neapolitan style doughs, such as discussed on the forum by pizzanapoletana (Marco), 1-5% of total water is a common range. However, the actual amount will depend on the nature of the starter itself, its virility, the degree of “wetness” or “stiffness”, its readiness for use, and possibly other factors. I have tended to stick to the higher end of the 1-5% range when expressing the preferment as a percentage of the formula water. With a highly active, properly maintained starter, one might be able to operate at the lower end of that range. It should be noted that when the preferment is expressed as a percent of formula water, the remaining ingredients used with the tool are with respect to flour, not water.

For a preferment expressed as a percentage of total dough weight, which is the approach that Bill/SFNM, Tonymark, Jeff V. and other members have used, the preferment amount can be 9-10% or more. Again, large values are likely to produce finished crusts with breadlike qualities and attributes associated with using a large amount of preferment.

There are no hard and fast rules on these matters and one should feel free to experiment using different values but recognize that just because the tool will give output numbers is no assurance of a successful outcome. In this respect, it will be helpful to be able to convert proven dough recipes to baker’s percents format, and especially the preferment as a percentage of flour, water or total dough weight.

It will also be noted that the tool requires users to enter the percent of water used in the preferment. As noted in Mike’s introductory post, this is not the same as the hydration of the preferment. My observation from reading posts on the forum is that many members use volume measurements of the flour and water when preparing and refreshing their preferments. As an example, the refreshment might be a half a cup of water and a half a cup of flour. Some may think of that as being a 50/50 mix. It is by volume, but because water weighs quite a bit more than flour, the percent of water in the mix by weight is actually around 64%. The actual hydration (the weight of water divided by the weight of flour) is an even higher number, at around 174%. For the tool, it is the 64% number we are after. My best advice on this point is to weigh the amounts of water and flour used to refresh the preferments, preferably over several feedings, and calculate the percent of water. That should produce more accurate results when using the tool and reduce the need to make adjustments in the water and/or flour in the bowl to achieve the desired final dough condition. I think one of the nice features of the tool is to be able to enter a desired value for the formula hydration. Coupling this with accurate values for the preferment quantity and preferment water percent should help produce more uniform and consistent results.

Users of the thickness factor approach in the tool and the bowl residue feature will note that the stated thickness factor in the data section reflects the increase due to the bowl residue. I found it to be a good idea to print out the page to have both the “before” and “after” thickness factor numbers. To see the differences between the weights of ingredients, it is also possible to “toggle” the bowl residue feature (switch between 0 and a value). That might help in the selection of the most appropriate bowl residue value. As an interesting twist, the bowl residue feature can also be used to make extra dough that might be used as “old dough” to be used in making the next batch of dough. For example, if one wanted to make an extra 20% dough for such a purpose, the bowl residue factor could be set at 20% (or a few percent more to compensate for bowl losses).

A final interesting observation—one that just struck me recently—is that the new tool can also be used to calculate ingredient amounts to make bread dough. To do this, one would need a starting dough ball weight and a set of baker’s percents. There is no reason that I can see why the tool can’t be used to make a natural preferment version of the Jim Lahey No Knead bread dough that has become popular on this forum and many other places, especially now that the volume measurements have been converted to weights. If a commercial yeast is to be used with such a dough, I would consider putting it in the dough up front along with the natural preferment and the rest of the ingredients. The total ingredients listing, including the preferment, will show up in the Final Dough section of the data presentation.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 04:11:26 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Bryan S

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2007, 07:14:01 PM »
A Biga Thank You goes out to Mike, Peter, Bill/SFNM, and scott r. 8) :pizza:
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline Steve

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2007, 07:55:39 AM »
Thanks, Mike!!  :chef:
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Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2007, 09:58:55 AM »
Hey  there folks.  thanks for this tool , I had been wondering if something like this was going to happen, and leave it up to you guys and it did.  It works perfectly and saves a lot of time over my old backwards "calculations". I do have just a couple comments on the tool.  I think it might be nice of you could list the actual name of say the flour, starter, type of sugar or oil and also a spot to comment on your intended mixing/fermentation regimen.  Not that that would affect the formulas at all, but would provide a perfect printable recipe without notes in pen and whatnot.  Also I prepped a recipe last night fed my starter, and made dough this morning,  while I'm sure it was because i hadn't finished my coffee yet, I followed the upper set of numbers, instead of the lower, and ended up with my starter weight in excess dough.  Maybe the actual additions could print out in bold or a larger font,  and the ingredient totals can be there for reference.  I wouldn't have mentioned this second comment unless I thought I could make the same mistake again.  Otherwise this is an extremely helpful and versatile tool.  Thanks for all the effort that went into it! :chef:

-marc

Offline Boy Hits Car

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2007, 10:41:49 AM »
Marc,

Thanks for your comments; they are both great ideas.  I can see how you got confused and I will attempt to make it more obvious that you need to follow the lower set of numbers.  As for the idea of being able to write notes, comments, etc.  The very first tool Peter and I came up with had a "notes" box where you could type in...well..notes.  For some reason, and I don't remember off hand, we decided to get rid of it.  That can be something we explore.  Maybe if we get enough members requesting an area for notes; then we can add it back.  I use the Lehmann tool all the time and find myself writing notes that come to mind after I print.  I think the main reason we got rid of the note box was to make room for all the new options we added to the original tool, like bowl residue and dough weight.  We try to keep the tool as small as possible to limit the amount of scrolling one has to do.

Mike

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2007, 11:35:54 AM »
Marc,

Like Mike, I write all of my specialized information, like type of flour, water temperatures, finished dough temperature, actual finished dough weight, type of sugar, type of oil, etc., on a printout of the formula page. Mike can comment further on this, if appropriate, but my recollection is that there is a limit as to the number of lines that can be printed on a single page, and putting too many choices at the top of the page might limit what can be printed below on the page.

When we worked on the deep-dish tool, we specifically identified different types of oil, like olive oil, canola oil and corn oil, because they are the most common ones used by the folks who make the deep-dish style and we thought it would be useful to have the type(s) of oils used appear in the printout for convenience, especially since some members used more than one type of oil. To the tool, it didn't make a difference from a conversion data standpoint since we used a single conversion factor. I believe it was an average of several different types of oils and oil blends.

Mike and I grappled almost daily during the development of the different tools on how to handle the large number of flours, sugars and oils in the tools. All of the tools have always been transparent to the types of flours. There are so many flours that I don't know that there would have been enough space programming-wise to list them all and have the selected one appear in the printout. We also struggled how to do the conversions for the different types of oils and sugars, especially since these ingredients came in so many different forms. I examined websites like nutrition-data to determine the best conversion data and, in some cases, I weighed ingredients on my small digital scale that can handle small amounts of lightweight ingredients. I even went to a local supermarket that carriess just about every type of oil and sugar known to man and examined the labels for about 100 different brands of oils, and a fairly large number of types and brands of sugar (e.g., table sugar, raw sugar, demerara, light brown, dark brown, etc.). In most cases, there were no differences in the label data that I could use for conversion purposes. Also, I tend not to trust the accuracy of label data all that much. So, for the tool purposes, we often averaged the values for several types and brands of ingredients, like oil and sugar, and/or we used the nutrition-data data if available. In a few cases, I used data from my small digital scale, especially when I had a product on hand that I could weigh. Doing these sorts of things made it unnecessary to specify particular types or forms of oils or sugars in the tools (except for the deep-dish tool as noted above).

As a practical matter, the conversion data variations for a given ingredient are often fairly small and, when weights are converted to volumes, the differences narrow because we round out values to two decimal places. Also, there will be inherent variations in the way that different people measure out volumes. We wanted the best conversion data possible under the circumstances but realized that some of the accuracy gets lost through rounding and in the way that ingredients are measured out.

There may be some ways that Mike can think of to implement some of your ideas without running into programming difficulties, like highlighting the last section of data. He's the expert on that aspect, so I will defer to him on these matters.

Peter

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2007, 01:20:47 PM »
Marc,

I just discovered that I forgot to address your comment on the mixing/kneading regimen. The new tool was intended only to provide ingredients and quantities based on the inputted data. In practice, users will have a multitude of ways to prepare their doughs based on the preferments/starters they are using, planned fermentation times, the specific type and model of mixing equipment they are using (or kneading by hand), and personal preferences in the ways they sequence their ingredients into the dough making process, which could also include classic and modified Calvel autolyse techniques.

Peter

Offline Pizzalogist

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 07:03:31 PM »
This might be common knowledge by now, but there are some problems with the calculations if you have unnecessary leading 0s - like if you say you want 025 % preferment instead of 25 % preferment.  I think other calculators on this site may have the same issue.


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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2012, 07:37:29 PM »
This might be common knowledge by now, but there are some problems with the calculations if you have unnecessary leading 0s - like if you say you want 025 % preferment instead of 25 % preferment.  I think other calculators on this site may have the same issue.

Pizzalogist,

All of the calculators were designed to use bakers percents as normally expressed, so I don't view it as a problem that leading zeros will result in errors. But you are correct that leading zeros will produce errors. However, it is not necessary that one use a zero before a decimal point. For example, 0.25% and .25% will both work. Omitting the zero before the decimal point expands the field by one place. I sometimes omit that zero when I want a thickness factor out one more place.

Peter

Offline Pizzalogist

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 01:48:20 PM »
The reason I called it a problem wasn't that you couldn't get the calculations to come out right, but that users need to know not to have leading zeros and to take whatever extra steps are required to remove them.  When I click on a field that is pre-populated with 0, it doesn't highlight the 0.  So, rather than backspace to remove the zero, my natural tendency is just to leave the zero there, since, outside of these calculators, 025 = 25.  If I had made dough based on the results, either the dough would have been a complete disaster or, worse, my experiment would have been ruined without my knowing.

I just did some tests as examples.  When I entered 075 as the hydration, the result I got was 61% hydration.  When I changed it to 75, the result was 75%.  Changing the TF from .15 to 0.15 didn't make a difference.  Putting 025 as the preferment (% of total flour) got me 21%.  But, putting 05 as the preferment got me 5%

I'd volunteer to help fix it, but I've never done flash programming. So, I just wanted to highlight it here in the hopes that it would help someone who might make the same mistake I did.

If the text above the calculator can be changed, I would add a note about the leading zero, as well as the units for thickness factor (oz/in^2, I believe).  I'd probably also mention that hydration, salt, sugar and oil are % of total flour, and that the size of round pizzas is diameter.

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2012, 02:23:29 PM »
Pizzalogist,

Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, the member (Boy Hits Car) who did the programming left the job where he used his employer's facilities to do much of the programming work. So, we apparently have no way now to change things.

Peter

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2012, 01:08:37 PM »
In lieu of changing the actual calculator, it would be good if someone could easily change the intro text above it to include a warning.

The existing math might be intuitive to some old timey mainframe programmer.  What the calculator appears to be doing is following the old convention for treating numbers that start with 0 as whole octal numbers when possible.  So 075 = 61, but 068 = 68 and 060.5 = 60.5.  If you like hexadecimal, you could enter 75% hydration as 0x4b.

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2012, 02:15:26 PM »
Thanks Pizzalogist.  You are right.  I tried it leaving in the "0"'s that show up as a default and the results were all hosed up.  When I over write or delete the default "0", no problems.  Check your results folks! Or do it by hand. :o

Seems to be the same issue with all the Expanded Pizza Dough Calculator also.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 02:38:54 PM by parallei »

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Re: Preferment Dough Calculating Tool
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2012, 03:21:55 PM »
Pizzalogist and Paul,

Thanks, guys.

It will be up to Steve, the owner of the forum, if he wants to make the recommended changes to the preferment dough calculating tool itself, as well as to the other dough calculating tools. However, today I went back to the instructions that apply to each of the tools (reached by clicking the link click here shown on each tool page) and made changes as appropriate, including an admonition not to use leading 0s, how the TF is calculated for round and rectangular/square pizzas (but not for deep-dish pizzas), and that a round pizza has a diameter (and a radius). Normally, I would hope that users of the tools read the related instructions, since they are given in a fair amount of detail, but I know that some people ignore all instructions. They are perhaps the types who assemble their kids' birthday or Xmas gifts without ever looking at or reading the instructions at all ;D. For them, I hope the use leading 0s :-D.

Peter