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Offline gcpizza

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My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« on: October 04, 2022, 09:03:01 PM »
Let me start by saying that I debated about whether or not I should write a post explaining Baker's Math and how to go from a dough formula to a dough ball that one can use to make a pizza. I debated whether there was a need for it. There are many others both here and elsewhere that have written about it. OTRChef was the latest here to do so. In the end I decided that because different people learn in different ways it's valuable to have multiple explanations of a concept. My hope is that my explanation will help someone to understand this concept when maybe they couldn't understand when reading other explanations. This post is long, but I hope that some will find it of value.

All of the information contained in this post is also somewhere else on this forum, scattered about in many different posts by many different people. There are many sites on the Internet that also explain Baker's Math. I am not under any illusion that my explanation here will be better or more clear than anyone else's explanation. Just different and hopefully comprehensive. If there is something written here that isn't clear, please let me know. I will do my best to make it clear or maybe another member will chime in with clarification. Obviously this is written for those just starting out in this obsession of making pizza and is not for the many here that are intermediate to advanced pizza chefs.

With all that being said, let's see how this all works.

Often times a member will post their formula and the amount of dough they used to make their pizza in a manner something like:

Flour 100%
Water 58%
Yeast 0.375%
Salt 2%
Sugar 2%
Oil 1%

and state they are using a dough ball weight of 625 g.

So, what does all this mean? How do we get from this information to a dough ball that we can use to make a pizza? As OTRChef alluded in his recent post, it's just some simple math. Once one understands how it works they'll be able to easily use the formulas that others provide to make the dough or scale the dough for different size pans.

Historically, baking has been known to be a process of mixing some ingredients together and cooking the mixture in an oven with the primary ingredient being wheat flour. At some point it was discovered that an easy way to record baking recipes was taking the weight of flour being used and determining the mathematical relationship of the other ingredients in the recipe to it. This relationship is called a ratio and recipes using ratios are formulas. These formulas provide an advantage over traditional recipes. They allow the baker or another baker to easily see the make up of a dough and it allows the recipe to be easily scaled to other amounts.

A dough formula expressed in Baker's Percentage is just a different way of expressing these ratios.  The secondary ingredients are presented as a percentage of the main ingredient, flour.

Let's look at another common baking product's dough configuration as an example. Biscuits are made up of several ingredients with the primary ingredient being flour. The other ingredients are fat and a liquid. The relationship between these ingredients typically are:

3 parts flour : 1 part fat : 2 parts liquid

This formula consists of 6 equal parts of different ingredients.

So the amounts of the components making up our biscuits might be (Let's use self-rising flour for this example so we're not worried about things like salt and baking powder):

240 g flour
80 g butter
160 g milk

1 part is 80 g, 2 parts is 160 g and 3 parts is 240 g.

We can make any amount of biscuits by keeping the relationship of the ingredients to each other the same.

Our biscuit formula that is expressed as a ratio can also be expressed in Baker's Percent:

Flour 100%
Fat 33.33%
Liquid 66.67%

Let's now move from making biscuits to making pizza. We'll use the dough formula example above to make our dough. With that we are provided a formula and an amount of dough to make.

The above pizza dough formula expressed in Baker's Percent can also be expressed as a ratio:

1 part flour : 0.58 part water : 0.00375 part yeast : 0.02 part salt : 0.02 part sugar : 0.01 part oil

With the biscuit dough we had 6 equal whole parts. With our pizza dough we have 1 whole part and 5 fractional parts.

So let's determine how many parts we have in total:

1 + 0.58 + 0.00375 + 0.02 + 0.02 + 0.01 = 1.63375

So there are 1.63375 parts of different ingredients that make up our dough. This is equivalent to adding up all the percentages in our Baker's Percent formula. By definition percent means how many parts out of 100 parts. If there are 100 pieces out of 100 total pieces then there is 1 whole part. Our formula above presented as a ratio is how many parts out of 1 part. To figure this out as a percentage each part in the above is multiplied by 100 and you have your Baker's Percent formula:

100% + 58% + 0.375% + 2% + 2% + 1% = 163.375%

Hopefully that was clear. Now we need to use our dough formula written in Baker's Percent to make a dough ball that we can use to make a pizza.

The easiest way to start the process of determining the ingredient amounts needed to make a specific amount of dough is to figure out how much one part is. Once we know that, the amounts of the other ingredients can be determined by using the ratios or percentages in the formula. We'll work with percentages as this post is about Baker's Percent formulas. Since in all Baker's Percent formulas flour is always 1 part or 100 percent we'll first figure out how much flour is needed. We do that by determining from the total dough mass what percentage of that mass consists of flour. We know that the entire dough mass is made up of 1.63375 parts (163.375%) and flour is 1 part (100%). To find out what percentage that that 1 part is out of the total 1.63375 parts we divide 1 by 1.63375:

1 / 1.63375 = 0.61209

Or if we're working with percentages instead of parts:

100 / 163.375 = 0.61209

So, 61.209% of our 625 g dough ball is flour. To find out how much flour we need is just simple math:

625 * 0.61209 = 382.55625 g of flour.

The rest is easy. The amount of water we need is 58% of the amount of flour:

382.55625 * 0.58 = 221.88263 g of water.

Continue with the rest of the ingredients:

382.55625 * 0.00375 = 1.43459 g yeast
382.55625 0.02 = 7.65113 g salt
382.55625 0.02 = 7.65113 g sugar
382.55625 0.01 = 3.82556 g oil

Add up the weights of all the ingredients to check our math:

382.55625 + 221.88263 + 1.43459 + 7.65113 + 7.65113 + 3.82556 = 625.00129

Round to 625 g

We now know how much of each ingredient we need to make a 625 g dough ball using the supplied formula.

As part of this post, I was also going to cover dough loading (Thickness Factor) and using that to scale a dough formula to a specific size pan. This post turned out to be longer than I expected, so I'll leave that to another post if anyone is interested.

Hopefully what's written above helps someone understand the concept of dough formulas using Baker's Percent. Once you understand how to do these calculations by hand you can just use the forum's dough calculator for day-to-day dough calculations with an understanding of what you are doing. It's a really good and easy to use tool and I use it frequently for my pizza experiments.

Offline HansB

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2022, 09:27:48 PM »
The above looks to me to be very complicated.

An easier way:

Formula

100% Flour
62%  H2O
2% Salt
1% Sugar
.5% IDY

Total is 165.5%

Move the decimal point two places. You have 1.655

If you want to make a 275g dough ball divide 275 by 1.655 = 166g.  That is your flour, multiply the remainder of the ingredients by the %. So water is 166 X .62 = 130g and so on.
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Offline gcpizza

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2022, 10:20:11 PM »
The above looks to me to be very complicated.

An easier way:

Formula

100% Flour
62%  H2O
2% Salt
1% Sugar
.5% IDY

Total is 165.5%

Move the decimal point two places. You have 1.655

If you want to make a 275g dough ball divide 275 by 1.655 = 166g.  That is your flour, multiply the remainder of the ingredients by the %. So water is 166 X .62 = 130g and so on.

I get your point. The problem is that there are many examples of the way you illustrated scattered across this forum and for some it is difficult to understand the concept. One could also not move the decimal point and just take the desired dough amount and divide it by the total percentage and take the result and multiple each of the formula's percentages by it. This is the way I do it when doing it by hand. This way you can just keep the "conversation factor" in the calculator's memory and use it to find the ingredient amounts without moving decimal points. Quick and easy.

625 / 163.375 = 3.82555

Flour - 100% * 3.82555 = 382.55547 g
Water - 58%  * 3.82555 = 221.88217 g
Yeast - 0.375% * 3.82555 = 1.43458 g

Etc, etc.

These methods are how these calculations are generally done and for many this is enough information. Some people can understand the concept by looking at what you wrote or what I wrote above. Some people don't want or need to know why something is. They just want to do it. For others,  though, they need to know the "why" in order to understand and remember the concept. My post was written for those people. Like I mentioned in my post - People learn things in different ways.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2022, 10:21:46 PM by gcpizza »

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2022, 12:24:31 AM »
Sadly the math is beyond understanding by a large amount of our fellow citizens. Most people would do best using a preprinted recipe or calling for delivery. :-\

Offline wotavidone

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2022, 03:47:40 AM »
Sadly the math is beyond understanding by a large amount of our fellow citizens. Most people would do best using a preprinted recipe or calling for delivery. :-\
The bit I struggle to understand is why so many people can't grasp it.
It just is not that difficult.
Then there are those who say, "I don't do math," as if it is some sort of badge of honour. ???
If they have trouble working out what 5 or 10% is of some number, they must get an awful lot of sales tax shocks at the checkout.
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Offline kori

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2022, 08:44:17 PM »
Let me start by saying that I debated about...

Nicely written up Jerry, definetly lengthy but will give some members a different understanding and way of looking at baker's percent and possibly some new forumulas.

I'm only a home pizza/bread baker, I've never had a reason to figure out the amount (weight) of ingredients for a particular size dough ball, I'm not sure why I would ever need to. For pizzas I decide how many I'm gonna make, size, T.F. and use the Dough Calculator provided on the forum.

Thanks for the write up.
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Offline PizzaPassion

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2022, 05:27:16 PM »
Hold the bus there people. Lot's of us pizza makers have been pretty successful elsewhere and math, with it's  formulas that may be so simple for you, might not be so simple for others. So when I read comments about "sadly" and sales tax surprises I find some of those comments condescending.
And yes I do use bakers percentages in everything I do that is pizza related. If my dough ball using 300 grams of flour is too large next week I'll use 275 grams of flour and scale all other ingredients back accordingly. I don't sit there and say I want my total dough amount to be X and proportion of flour is Y and water is Z and so forth. For me that is work and making pizza is about having fun. Might be simple for you but not for me but I'm just a simple guy in a not so simple world.

Online kbrede

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2022, 08:05:04 PM »
Thanks for posting this Kori. I found it helpful. You mentioned "dough loading." I for one would like to see you write on that as well.  :)
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Offline kori

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2022, 06:27:29 PM »
Thanks for posting this Kori. I found it helpful. You mentioned "dough loading." I for one would like to see you write on that as well.  :)
Well you thanked the wrong person  :-D :P the credit goes to gcpizza (Jerry).

If you would like to use the dough calculator on the forum but are not sure about thickness factors (dough loading factor) then these threads will help you out as a guidline.

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=12243.0
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=40354.0

For a further explanation I'll leave that to gcpizza if he so chooses.
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Offline jma6610

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2022, 05:56:22 PM »
Let me start by saying that I debated about whether or not I should write a post explaining Baker's Math and how to go from a dough formula to a dough ball that one can use to make a pizza. I debated whether there was a need for it.

As someone who teaches math, I'm unsure whether I want to scream or applaud. It really should be as simple as saying that when using baker's percentages, the stated % is simply based off the weight of the flour since doing so has advantages when scaling a recipe. This allows someone making 5,000 loaves of bread to use the same recipe as someone making 1 and permits both to communicate with others about the recipe in a better way. I'm afraid that when you make an explanation too long, especially when you carry out calculations to 5 decimal points, that you're going to have the opposite effect on those who are math phobic - many will take one look at the length at give up and many more will take a look at  382.55547 and that will exhaust their attention span. Perhaps longer explanations work for some folks - if so, great. I suspect that with the majority, however, the shorter and simpler, the more you'll hold their attention and increase their motivation to learn.

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Offline HansB

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2022, 06:11:30 PM »
As someone who teaches math, I'm unsure whether I want to scream or applaud. It really should be as simple as saying that when using baker's percentages, the stated % is simply based off the weight of the flour since doing so has advantages when scaling a recipe. This allows someone making 5,000 loaves of bread to use the same recipe as someone making 1 and permits both to communicate with others about the recipe in a better way. I'm afraid that when you make an explanation too long, especially when you carry out calculations to 5 decimal points, that you're going to have the opposite effect on those who are math phobic - many will take one look at the length at give up and many more will take a look at  382.55547 and that will exhaust their attention span. Perhaps longer explanations work for some folks - if so, great. I suspect that with the majority, however, the shorter and simpler, the more you'll hold their attention and increase their motivation to learn.

I agree, my eyes glazed over trying to read that...
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"The most important element of pizza is the dough. Pizza is bread after all. Bread with toppings." -Brian Spangler

"Ultimately, pizza is a variety of condiments on top of bread. If I wanted to evolve, I figured out that I had to understand bread and first make the best bread I possibly could. Only then could my pizza evolve as well." Dan Richer

Offline wotavidone

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2022, 07:33:44 PM »
So when I read comments about "sadly" and sales tax surprises I find some of those comments condescending.
The sales tax comment was mine. I was drawing the parallel that in much of the US you need to apply percentages every day, just so you know what the bill is going to be at the checkout.
Hence I fail to understand what the fuss is about.
Especially since, strictly speaking, isn't calculating percentages simple primary school (grade school?) arithmetic rather than complicated mathematics?

The "I don't do math" thing? That was a dig.

A little context here: I didn't finish high school. I've been treated to both impatience and infinite patience by my betters.
I've been asked for help and told to ef off by people whose maths skills weren't up to even my rather basic levels.
The ones who tick me off? The ones who are proud of not being able to do the most basic of calculations.

How do you get through life not doing math?
« Last Edit: October 11, 2022, 07:44:25 PM by wotavidone »
Mick

Offline foreplease

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2022, 08:36:32 PM »
Good post jma. I do appreciate the effort gcpizza made in his OP but I think it got away from him.


My post is mainly to say: this would be a good time to point out that recipes and formulas are just part of the baking equation (sorry  :-D  ). Itís both a place to begin and a point to fall back on. What happens between weighing ingredients and eating is the important, sometimes difficult to repeat, information.
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Offline jma6610

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2022, 08:46:20 PM »
The sales tax comment was mine. I was drawing the parallel that in much of the US you need to apply percentages every day, just so you know what the bill is going to be at the checkout.

That's a good point. In the US, you need to think about sales tax added at the end of a sale. You also need to be concerned with the tips paid to waitstaff at a restaurant. In Australia (and I suspect many other countries), sales tax is included in the price around 99% of the time and there are no tips as a routine at restaurants and when they occur, they aren't based upon a percentage of the bill - you simply add 1, 2, 5 dollars as a round number. In Australian grocery stores, the price per kilogram for near everything is provided in small print at the bottom of the price tag - I haven't seen that often in the US. I find that in comparison to folks in the US, the average Aussie doesn't understand percentages in a functional way - and before anyone says anything, I'm a dual-citizen so am fully able to understand both countries well. I guess one gets more practice in the US - but I've also seen plenty in the US who can't (or don't want to) do this either.

Offline gcpizza

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2022, 09:46:45 PM »
Oh Jeeze. I never would have imagined that a post on Baker's Percent would have turned into such a contentious discussion.

No disrespect to you and your profession jma, but as an educator you should know better than most that not everyone learns the same. Not everyone will fully understand every topic. One of my biggest problems in learning math was that often times teachers would "dumb it down" with a simple explanation without really explaining the "why". I needed the "why" to understand. For some all they need is a simple explanation and a formula and they got it for life. Some are content by memorizing a formula and plugging in the numbers to get the desired result. For myself I need to know where the formula comes from. I learn concepts and memorize very little. If I know the concept, I can always figure it out.

Again, my original post wasn't written for those that already understand Baker's Percent. It wasn't written for those that only need a simple explanation and example to understand. I was written for those needing the "why".

I'm not an educator. Could this have been done better. Sure.  Probably. I believe that, while lengthy, it's technically correct. If there are errors in what I've written,  please point them out.  I'm not perfect and I believe in teamwork. In that spirit, if you as an experienced educator knows a better way to explain the "why" for those that need it, the team would appreciate your help.

If the moderators feel that my post is inappropriate for the scope of this forum my feelings won't be hurt if they remove it.

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Offline jma6610

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2022, 12:10:35 AM »
Oh Jeeze. I never would have imagined that a post on Baker's Percent would have turned into such a contentious discussion.

No disrespect to you and your profession jma, but as an educator you should know better than most that not everyone learns the same. Not everyone will fully understand every topic. One of my biggest problems in learning math was that often times teachers would "dumb it down" with a simple explanation without really explaining the "why". I needed the "why" to understand.

It's debatable whether "everyone learns in a different way" - but let's not go there - that's completely tangential to the topic. There is an important difference between an *example*, however, and the matter of *why*.

{for example} I know that as dough ferments, it becomes more acid. I can measure that acidity change with a pH meter. I can understand that pH is a logarithmic measurement so that a drop in 1 unit of pH means 10 times more acid. I might not have enough chemistry background, however, to understand *why* in the sense of knowing that more negative hydrogen ions are formed with pH decreases (or whatever is going on). I might not have enough electrical engineering background to understand *why* pH works in the way it does. Those *why* questions are likely irrelevant to making dough.

I would argue that what you were doing, however, is simply providing an example or two and not getting into the issue of "why". I absolutely agree with you that if you're trying to explain to someone baker's percentages, than one or more examples should be provided - we are in complete agreement. What I would say, however, is that your example(s) should likely be as simple as possible under a situation like this. You can spend time in coming up with an example where the math results in round numbers without decimal points. This would greatly make the example easier to follow. The more simple the example(s) the less likely you would be to scare off the reluctant folks who resist using baker's percentages. For example, "let's say you want to make dough with 1 kilo (1000 grams) of flour - if your recipe calls for 60% water, you would simply add 600 grams of water to the flour - here's the math: 1000 * 60% = 600." "You can do that with a calculator by pushing these keys in the following order... - Alternatively you could do that by entering 1000 in the calculator and then multiplying by .60. Now, just repeat for the other ingredients in the recipe. That's it. You've mastered baker's percentages." "Now, if you want to learn even more go to this next page/site/whatever for additional details." 

...that would be my suggestion. It's more complex to come up with the exact weight of each ingredient given a dough ball weight and the baker's percentages. I would guess that most folks would never master than and even if they could, they wouldn't care since there are plenty of calculators online and as apps that will do this for them. In fact, that's what I do since it's quick and easy. I would label that as an "advanced" topic and keep it completely separate from the basics.  ...and I don't think that I would ever try to describe how to perform linear and non-linear regression methods to compute an algorithm that predicts yeast amounts given time/temperature variations. You would now lose everyone who didn't have at least a masters degree in statistics.



Offline gcpizza

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Re: My Explanation Of Using Baker's Percent Formulas
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2022, 11:43:35 AM »
It's debatable whether "everyone learns in a different way" - but let's not go there - that's completely tangential to the topic. There is an important difference between an *example*, however, and the matter of *why*.

It's not as debatable as you may think, but this is the wrong post and wrong forum for that discussion.

I don't know how this thread, that was started in an attempt to be helpful, turned into bashing those that need help and someone trying to help them. Really?

I'm not going to debate you here.

Since this post has gotten so off track and the replies have been more criticism of my original post and bashing those that I was attempting to help than expanding upon it in the spirit of helping others, I ask the moderators to delete this post if they feel that it is not helpful to those it was intended to help or at least lock it from further replies so that it doesn't further deteriorate and move further from its intended purpose.

To those that need help with this I'll be around, at least for a short time, and would be happy to help you to the best of my ability if you reach out via private message.

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