How to Understand Baker’s Percentages (or Baker’s Math) – A Guide.

Last updated on April 2nd, 2024 at 04:22 pm

Learn and understand the basics of baker’s percentages to easily scale up or down your recipes, add ingredients and better understand your baking with incredible accuracy. Use the baker’s percentages calculator in this guide as a tool to find your recipe formula and the dough’s final hydration.

Floured hands

Baker’s percentages or baker’s math (also sometimes called formula percentage) are a universal baker’s language mainly used to easily calculate, scale and adjust bread baking formulas. By understanding baker’s percentages, you will easily be able to make small changes that you can track to help you improve your baking. You can also use fundamental rules to help you diversify your baking and adapt your standard recipe.

baker's percentages

Watch this Video to Learn More about Baker’s Percentages:

Key Reasons for Using Baker’s Percentages:

  • Allows you to work with more precision
  • Simplifies scaling formulas up and down
  • Allows you to share a common baker’s language. The ability to share a common language helps us communicate with other bakers easily and helps us quickly troubleshoot a formula by seeing the percentage breakdown. In this guide you will learn how to quickly and accurately calculate baker’s percentage.

When to Use Baker’s Percentages:

While baker’s percentages are most commonly used in bread baking formulas, they can also be used in many other types of baking. Understanding your ingredient ratios in relation to the total flour tells us a lot about cookies, cakes, brownies and many other types of baking.

In hot weather months, bakers may want to decrease the percentage of levain to help slow down the bulk fermentation. Likewise in cooler months, they may want to use more.

Sourdough Bread

Calculating Baker’s Percentages

While percentages normally represent a fraction of a whole, baker’s percentages are a representation of the ingredient only in direct relation to the total amount of flour in the recipe, with the total flour in the recipe always worth 100%. So each ingredient is given a percentage based on the total flour being 100%. For example:

If you have 20g of flour in your recipe and 10g of water, the flour is 100% and the water is equal to 50%. Further, if that flour was broken down into 10g whole wheat flour and 10g bread flour, each would represent 50% of the total flour, and water would still be 50%. Once again, always remember that the flour is always equal to 100%, and the other ingredients are measured in relation to the flour.

A good starting point for a simple country sourdough loaf would be something similar to this:

  • 80% bread flour
  • 20% whole wheat
  • 80% hydration
  • 20% levain
  • 2% salt

As you can see the total of BOTH flours is equal to 100%

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough

Baker’s Percentage Formula:

Baker's Percentage Banner_V1C

How to Use The Baker’s Percentage Calculator:

Understanding baker’s percentages are one of the keys to creating your own formulas. To help simplify the math I have added a calculator that will do the math for you. To calculate your baker’s percentage:

  1. Enter the total flour in your formula..
  2. Enter the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Find your baker’s percentages.

Note: The weights are calculated in grams and displayed as (g) but you can use any unit of measure.

Baker’s Percentage Calculator:

Oat Porridge Bread

How to Calculate the Doughs Weight From the Baker’s Percentage

Whether I am developing recipes or updating classics I almost always start with the baker’s percentage. With a bit of practice, the baker’s percentage can help you visualize the final product. What type of loaf, what are the inclusions, hydration and salt. Without even seeing the bread you can often get a sense of what type of bread it is based on the baker’s percentages.

To calculate the reverse baker’s percentage, begin with the total amount of flour you want to start with. For example, if you were looking to make one loaf of sourdough bread you would likely use approximately 500 grams of flour.

Reverse Baker’s Percentage Formula:

Reverse Baker’s Percentage Calculator:

To help simplify the process I have added this reverse baker’s Percentage Calculator.

  1. Enter the total flour percentage in your formula.
  2. Enter the rest of your baker’s percentages.
  3. Find your weights.

Simplifying Sourdough Digital Course

If you found this post helpful and want to learn more check out my fully digital course Simplifying Sourdough. It is my first of several courses to come and it gives in-depth explanations to help you develop a strong foundation for your baking.

Beginner Sourdough

Additional Sourdough Guides

Check out our other sourdough baking guides on milling your own fresh flour, creating a new sourdough starter and how to store your sourdough.

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