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.