Dough Doctor: Advantages to using baker’s precentage

artisan pizza

Q: What are the advantages to showing a dough recipe/formula in baker’s percent?

A: The advantages are that it allows you to determine, at a glance, if the dough is in correct balance. It also allows you to manipulate the size of a dough recipe with 100-percent certainty that all of the ingredients are used at the correct amount. Lastly, if you are managing your dough ball inventory against a fixed quantity, it means that you can easily determine exactly how much flour will be needed to make a dough batch of any specific size. Here are some examples of what I mean for each of these.

It can be difficult to determine if 3 cups of salt is the correct amount to use for a dough that is based on 25 pounds of flour weight … but if you change this to baker’s percent by dividing the ingredient weight by the total flour weight and multiply by 100, you will readily see that 3 cups of salt (28.8 ounces, or 1.8 pounds) is 7.2 percent of the total flour weight, which is way too much salt considering that the normal level of salt might be around 2 percent and the maximum around 3 percent. As for manipulating the size of a dough batch using baker’s percent, this is also very easy. For example, here is a typical pizza dough formula shown in baker’s percent:

Flour: 100 percent
Salt: 1.75 percent
Sugar: 1.5 percent
Instant dry yeast: 0.375 percent
Olive oil: 2 percent
Water: 58 percent

If you want to base the dough size on 40 pounds of flour, just plug in 40 pounds (or 640 ounces) next to the flour since the total flour weight is always equal to 100 percent. To find the amount of each ingredient needed to complete the dough, use your calculator and enter the weight of the flour, then press “x” and enter the percent of the ingredient that you want the weight for followed by the “%” key.

This is what the entries will look like. Salt: 640 x 1.75 (press the “%” key) and read 11.2 ounces in the display window.

Sugar: 640 x 1.5 (press the “%” key) and read 9.6 ounces in the display window.

Instant dry yeast: 640 x 0.375 (press the “%” key) and read 2.4 ounces in the display window.

Olive oil: 640 x 2 (press the “%” key) and read 12.8 ounces in the display window.

Water: 25 x 58 (press the “%” key) and read 14.5 pounds in the display window.

Your total dough weight, based on 40 pounds of flour will be 65.45 pounds.

Note: For most of the smaller ingredients it will be easier to show the flour weight in ounces, while larger ingredients, like the water, are best am manufacturing calculated with the flour weight shown in pounds. Remember, the calculated weight of the ingredient will always be in the same weight unit that the flour is shown in.

Baker’s percent can also be used to help manage your dough ball inventory. This is done either through dough ball projections or a fixed dough ball inventory that you will need to rebuild daily. In either case you will need to calculate how much dough will be needed to make a specific number of dough balls.

As an example, let’s say you need to make 55 dough balls at 17 ounces each and 107 dough balls at 14 ounces each. To make these, you will need a total of (55 x 17 + 107 x 14 = 2,433 ounces — or 152 pounds –– of dough). If you take the sum of the baker’s percent in your dough formula and divide it by 100, you will have a factor that you can use to determine how much flour you will need to use to make this number of dough balls. Using the above sample dough formula, the sum of the baker’s percent is 163.625. When divided by 100 it becomes 1.63625. All we need to do now is to divide the total dough weight by 1.63625 and we get 92.895 pounds of flour that will be needed to make the dough balls. Now all you need to do is to divide 92.895 by the pounds of flour you use to make a dough and you will know how many doughs you will need to make.

Using our above example dough formula, let’s say you use 40 pounds of flour to make your doughs: 92.895 divided by 40 = 2.32 batches of dough needed to make this number of dough balls. Here is where the real fun begins. So we don’t have any surplus of dough balls beyond what we need to rebuild the inventory, we can make two full size batches and one that is 3/10ths of our regular size. Here is how we make that 3/10ths size dough:

Multiply the full size dough weight by 0.3 to find the new dough weight (0.3 x 65.45 = 19.635 pounds of dough). Remember, by dividing the dough weight by the total baker’s percent divided by 100 we can find the flour weight needed to make this dough (begin by rounding the dough weight off to the next nearest pound — 20 pounds). 20 pounds divided by 1.63625 = 12.22 pounds of flour will be needed to make the dough.

It is suggested that the flour weight be rounded to the next nearest pound to allow for any dough loss resulting from scaling error when portioning the dough for the dough balls. With a flour weight of 13-pounds, again using the above dough formula the amounts of ingredients needed to make the dough will be as follows:

Flour: 100 percent = 13 pounds/208 ounces.

Salt: 1.75 percent = (208 ounces x 1.75 press the “%” key) and read 3.64-ounces.

Sugar: 1.5 percent = (208 ounces x 1.5 press the “%” key) and read 3.12 ounces.

Instant dry yeast: 0.375 percent (208 ounces x 0.375 press the “%” key) and read 0.78 ounce.

Olive oil: 2 percent (208 ounces x 2 press the “%” key) and read 4.16 ounces.

Water: 58 percent (13 pounds x 58 press the “%” key) and read 7.54 pounds

Adding up the weights of the ingredients we get a total calculated dough weight of 21.27 pounds (very close to our targeted 20 pounds). Ain’t math great?

Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.