Subject: Baker's Percents

In further review, I will express a note of caution about the table of baker's percents in the book.

First, the percents are, with the exception of yeast, expressed (or rounded) to the nearest whole number percent. So, no such thing as salt at 2.1% or water at 64.6%. Those would be 2 and 65, respectively.

Secondly, it is not 100% clear what the denominator is, i.e. the amount of flour. The reason this matters is that most of the recipes involve a poolish. I believe the "normal" thing to do is take express your percentages in the "Total Formula" with the total flour in the denominator. The total flour includes both the flour you put in the recipe plus the amount of flour in the poolish.

So, with an example to be clear, let's say you have 450 grams of flour in the recipe and 100 grams of poolish. If it is 100% hydration poolish, then it has 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water. So, the total flour is 500 grams and that is what is used in the Total Formula to calculate baker's percents.

I do not believe this is what Tony is doing. Most of his recipes show the starter (poolish) at 20%. It is always 20% when you divide by the flour WITHOUT including the flour in the poolish itself. If you include the flour in the poolish, the correct calculation would yield 18.8% which rounds off to 19%. But, the table shows 20%.

You cannot really tell with the other ingredients since they are already rounded off. So, if you salt is published at 2 percent, you may get 2.1 % or 1.9% ,etc and it will still round to 2%. But, as mentioned, it shows starkly in the starter percent. But the calculation is simply not discernible in the other ingredients.

Further, in many recipes you get a choice of starter of poolish (100% hydration) or "tiga" which is 71% hydration. So, that adds a bit to the ambiguity since the choice involved when adding 20% starter will yield different hydrations and total flour amounts.

So, please be warned. I would say the table has limited to no use and/or you need to be careful.

So, for me, I will go back to each recipe in the book and ignore the table. The amounts are in there with grams and I can do the math to scale or tweak hydration, etc.

Also, maybe I am too obsessive (but I am sure none of you folks are) and there really is no need to go beyond one decimal point......

The odd table does not take away any material value for me, but I can easily see some floundering or confusion with folks that are new pizza and/or baking.

Hope all this makes sense.

- Mitch