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Once we wrap our minds around the metric system it makes everything easier including baking bread! You can't get too far into the world of bread baking before you run into the concept of a "Baker's Percentage". This important principle and a little hack involving the metric system combine to make the easiest way you have ever seen to make bread. It's not just a recipe, it's a master recipe, it's the only recipe you will ever need and once you learn it you will say to yourself "Damn, why does everyone make bread recipes so complicated?"

Step 1: Baker's Percentage

Baker's Percentage is an idea which comes to us from the big guys, commercial bakeries which need to be able to scale up a recipe to make a batch of dough big enough that you could hide a body in it. The idea is simple although the name is a little deceptive. A baker's percentage recipe expresses all the other ingredients as their percentage, by weight, of the flour. For instance a lean bread dough could be written as:

Flour 100%

Water 70%

Yeast 1%

Salt 2%

The astute reader will notice that this adds up to 173% but remember these are bakers, not mathematicians. We are really talking about proportions more than percentages but who wants to quibble as long as there is delicious bread. It's simple to use. You choose how much flour you want to use (whether you measure by the gram or the 40lb sack) and scale the rest of the ingredients to match.

<p>The proof of the 'math error' is the simple fact that &quot; flour&quot; being 100% of the mixture leaves NO room for any thing else!!</p><p>This leaves flour as being ONLY 100 MINUS the sum of 70% + 1% + 2 % </p><p>or flour being : only 73% of the mixture... so, flour is merely only 73% of the final mixture..</p><p>Therefore 73% + 27% flour = the 100% of the mixture.... by weight.</p><p>this yields 100%. </p>
<p>Add an egg and that's crepe batter!</p>
<p>french cr&ecirc;pe batter is 250g flour, 4 eggs, 0,5l milk, no salt, no yeast, no sugar - everything else is pancakes; </p>
<p>Well that's me told!</p>
Your error is thinking it refers to a percentage of the whole. In fact it refers to the percentage of each ingredient relative to the amount of flour. The percentages are not intended to add up to 100.
Don't go backwards. Go forwards and you can make any amount the &quot;100 percent&quot; its well explained.
<p>Hah hah hah! It's about time someone extolled the virtues of both baking bread by baker's percentages and using the metric system. This country is the only industrialized nation that still uses the king's measurement system that is so arcane and unwieldy to use. I avoid recipes that use volume measurements. Weighing ingredients, like most of the world does, is not only more precise and accurate, it easily allows making adjustments, getting consistent repeat results, simple scaling of a recipe, and sharing recipes that work for everyone. Volume measure in breadmaking is inherently inaccurate because flour densities vary widely. You never know what percentage the dough has. I'm amazed at how many bread books by alleged experts use only volume measure.<br><br>I bought a digital scale a few years ago at Costco for $15 and use it all the time, especially for bread. As you say, you don't need a recipe for bread dough. Just decide how much flour you want to use and what percentage of water and weigh away.<br><br>I bake bread and pizza in a toaster oven and I also have a 1/4&quot; piece of steel that just fits the rack. A 12&quot; pizza, loaded, bakes in 4 minutes to charred perfection.</p>
I concur whole heartedly with you on the USA not widely using the metric system. But did you know it actually IS the official measurement system in the USA, and has been since 1893?<br><br>https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendenhall_Order<br><br>Also, we actually do use metric system in the United States a lot more than most people realize. For example medications are all dispensed CCs, miligrams and milliliters. Film stock is measured in millimetres, as are some ammunition rounds. Soda and wine comes in bottles measured in liters or milliliters. Food labels utilize metric units. Look around and you'll be surprised at how common it actually is.<br><br>There was a push to move the United States into the metric system back in the 1970s, but it was killed in 1982 by President Reagan. I never understood why, but my father-in-law always felt that it was blowback from the machinist unions who had a great deal of money invested precision Tools all calibrated to imperial units.
<p>The pushback from machinists is ironic considering they measure everything in thousandths of an inch (or milli-inches as I called them during my brief internship in a machine shop). My teacher/head machinist wasn't as amused as I was. :)<br><br></p>
<p>That's very interesting. I did not know that. Yes, I am aware that a very few products are sold in metric quantities but I'm talking about universal adoption. And I have heard the machinists argument. But that's no excuse IMO. Using base 10 instead of base 2 measurements highly simplifies mental arithmetic. A perfect example&mdash;the other day I was in Costco and I was considering two different options for the same product. One was like 3 x 1lb 12oz packages for $x.xx, the other was, say, 2 x 2lb 10oz for $y.yy. How the hell do you determine the price per oz in your head so you can decide which is the better buy? And they do that on purpose. If it were metric it would be easy. The so-called imperial system is antiquated and based on some English or Scottish king's thumb (or other organ LOL!) size. Even the UK switched over to metric decades ago. I order things all the time on eBay that are metric so this further complicates things. I cannot find a metric drill bit set at Home Depot, Lowes, or Harbor Freight. I'll have to order one from China on eBay. Yet these companies do sell metric fasteners.</p>
I concur wholeheartedly. Imperial units suck. So much easier and more practical to use base 10. Our country needs to get its cranium out of its posterior and get on the same page as the rest of the world. Alas... We Americans FEAR CHANGE. :/
<p>Weighing isn't necessarily &quot;exact&quot; either. Packing density affects flour quantity measured by volume, flour initial water content affects quantity when weighed. Damp flour has less flour per unit weight then dry flour!</p><p>As for salt, are you trying to kill everyone consuming the bread? I make bread without salt all the time. 20g of salt is way too much sodium! Why is salt needed in a pizza where salt-laden sauce, cheese, pepperoni, etc. are added on top? Entrees made from multiple ingredients should have salt in ONE ingredient. I am not interested in gorging water for the next 2 hours after eating the bread of pizza!</p>
<p>That's the beauty of baking you own bread, you can make it however you like it.</p>
550f is not metric. 288&deg;C is that in the metric system. My Ofen just goes to 230&deg;C. <br>And about the errors you are wrong. If you measure 10 Cups which are wrong by 5% or 1 Cup which is wrong by 5% you will be in any case wrong by 5%. If the Cup is not wrong, but your method of using it is 5% inaccurate, then 1 cup is 5% wrong, but for 10 cups your errors will partly cancel each other out and you will be much more accurate and just in the worst possible case you will still be 5% wrong. The expected error for 10 cups is according to Gauss square root of (10*5*5)/1000 and that is about 1.5%.
<p>There are reports on yutube of an interesting solution to the problem of obtaining the very high temp;s of Roman pizza ovens: ie, a fellow disengaged the safety device of his 'self-cleeaning oven , to obtain 600+ degrees of cooking temperature.</p><p>He reported that only on a small number of occasions did the local fire department respond to the production of large quantities of smoke coming from his kitchen.</p><p>I am NOT endorsing this illogical approach to the issue, tho he did manage to cook a frozen pizza in as little as 45 seconds using this approach.</p>
<p>I see no reason to bypass any safety elements built into an appliance. </p><p>If your stove is limited then there are always work arounds. </p><p>If you can't build a pizza oven in your backyard, you can practice baking bread in a backyard grill, but I would use wood charcoal, not briquets or propane.</p>
<p>Sounds adventurous! I used to warm my lunch sandwich in a forge furnace at the blacksmith shop where I worked. We shut off the gas at lunch so the furnace cooled down a bit. It was only about 1800F. If I wrapped a sandwich completely in aluminum foil and stuck it in for about 10 seconds it came out nice and melty, but if there were any gaps in the foil it would incinerate. There is such a thing as too much heat.</p>
<p>U.S. ovens don't do metric so we are stuck with Fahrenheit. </p><p>One trick you can try is if your oven won't go hot enough, you can turn on the broiler. This does depend on your oven. I have a gas oven with the broiler in a drawer under the oven. While my oven theoretically goes up to 550 I haven't taken the temperature of how high it would go if I put it on broil and left it for 30 min. </p><p>So you might want to see if you can get your oven over 230c. by using the broiler. </p>
<p>While you're correct, it is important to note that this advice could potentially be, and likely is, a very dangerous fire hazard.</p>
<p>I have used the broiler for extra heat but mine shuts itself off after a few minutes so it makes the whole thing rather in predictable.</p>
<p>The downside of modern appliances. </p><p>I have a vintage O'Keefe and Merritt gas stove. No automatic anything. The pilot light is always on so the oven box is a toasty 100 degrees even when the oven is off. Perfect for everything bread from activating the yeast to rising to baking.</p><p>I love this stove so much I may have them bury me with it.</p>
<p>I bet you make wicked meringues with an oven like that</p>
<p>Also delicious doggy cookies. </p>
<p>There really is no need to be a troll, The author stated (if you were able to read) that they're Bakers, not mathematicians. as a fan of baking this instructable is superb , kudos to the author</p>
<p>Thank you very much</p>
We bake at ,450 and it works fine
<p>Love the info on the baker's ratios- I think I will make some bread this weekend.</p>
<p>I did not understand one bit of this, and that is ok. There is a reason I &quot;lift things up, and put things down&quot; and I am an equipment operator, not a baker. That being said, I bet in the right hands, this is an amazing instructable. Can I call it &quot;amazing&quot; and not understand it? I just did, so there.</p>
Too much salt
<p>Of course feel free to adjust it to your liking. </p>
<p>&quot;The Batter Zone&quot; will be the title of my next short story. :)</p>
<p>Great article! This makes bread-making so much more simple. One question though... most of the recipies I've tried use sugar, but there's no mention of it in this article. Where does sugar sit in the ratio?</p>
<p>You don't need sugar in bread because there is a natural enzyme in wheat and thus in flour, called diastase that, in the presence of water, converts the starch in flour to sugar for the yeast to work on. You also don't need to proof the yeast unless you are using fresh yeast that has been sitting around in your fridge for a few weeks. Fresh yeast is a damp putty-like crumbly solid (a bit like crumbly cheese) that has a shelf life of about two weeks. If it is older than two weeks, checking it by proofing it in a little water with some sugar will satisfy you that the yeast hasn't died of old age. I always use fast acting dehydrated yeast and just add it in with the flour, and between batches I store it in the freezer as the author recommends.</p>
<p>Right you are. Proofing yeast is a thing of the past for me. I'd put it down with sifting flour on my list of quaint things you see in old cookbooks.</p>
<p>Well I still sift flour for sponges and that type of baking, if only to get the lumps out before folding in.</p>
<p>I remember as a child (in the 60's) my mother would get yeast from the local supermarket (UK - in the North West) for free. This was in the days before supermarkets had in store bakeries so what the yeast was for and why it was free I don't know. But she always proved it with lukewarm water and sugar and Mum made bread was the best. The majority of the bread we ate was bought from the bakers at the end of the street, who also gave yeast away, probably safe in the knowledge that the local Mums in the area had to work and had no time for baking bread as a rule.</p>
<p>There is an amazing hippie bakery not far from my house in California which will gladly give you some of their starter. They know anyone who is interested enough to want their starter is likely going to buy a lot of their bread as well.</p>
<p>Interesting, thanks Beekeeper! I really need to take that bread class on here.</p>
1 teaspoon for each pound of flour.... talking metric, i traspoon each 500gram (or half kilo) of flour.
<p>I totally concur on using a digital scale for making bread as it makes everything repeatable. Everything but pizza - I having been making pizza for such a long time and it is such a small amount of dough, I just do it by feel. </p>
Or... just make 2 or 3 times the dough, and freeze it! ;)
It would take me longer to defrost it then it would to make it. I take bread flour, instant yeast, garlic powder, salt, olive oil, hot water, mix, knead, rise, form, rest, dress, bake.
<p>so a crouton would be a few milliiloaves, and a slice of bread would be several centiloaves?</p>
<p>So I guess crumbs would be nanoloaves. I love it!</p>
<p>love the autocorrect in there ... 'dump everything in the bowel...' hehehe. </p><p>Nice Instructable though. Easy to follow.</p>
<p>Ooops! Well I suppose that is technically correct but it skips a few steps, like chew the bread and swallow ;-) Thanks for catching it. I fixed it lest someone get confused.</p>
<p>sweet!</p>
I consider my daughter the best cook in the family; we all enjoy it--most of the guys cook for their wives, which adds one point right there! to our husband-score (speaking of metric system, there's also a universal husband-score, but that is my next instructable).<br>My daughter once had a job during college where she arose at 4 am to make 2,000 croissants, each day. She's a bad-ass, indeed.<br>Her pizza is the best; she uses Mario Battaglia's half pizza recipe (I think his would make four of daughter's thin crust, and she only serves two per dinner).<br>But I love what you've done here, and I'm sharing it with my daughter. Being nearly perfect, she's also humble (aw, thanks Dad, I'm glad you liked the pizza!), and she likes to try new things. With this dough knowledge and theory, she can go nuts, and conquer earth.<br>I vote for you, sir! Thank you for this public service!
<p>Your daughter is indeed a bad-ass baker. You won't find me writing a croissant instructable any time soon!</p>
<p>This is great! Volumetric measurements in US recipes is a bugbear of mine. However, I just have to point out a small error: &quot;There can be small differences because of different moisture levels and different densities of different flours&quot; The different moisture levels might make a difference when weighing flour but the density will not - that's why we weigh and don't use cups!</p>

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Bio: I make custom copper signs, metalwork and prototypes. I am one of the hosts of the "3d Printing Today Podcast", available on iTunes.
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