Dough Doctor
BY TOM LEHMANN
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN

Why are pizza dough recipes/formulas expressed in percentages rather than in amounts?

The easiest way to express a dough formula is in what is referred to as baker’s percent. The amount of each ingredient is expressed as a percent of the total flour weight used in the dough formulation. This allows for easy checking to make sure all ingredients are in correct balance regardless of batch size, and it also allows you to adjust the batch/dough size up or down while keeping all ingredients in correct balance. To find the correct weight for each ingredient you must first decide how much flour you want to use. The total flour weight is always equal to 100 percent. Here is a typical dough formula in baker’s percent:

Flour: 100 percent
Salt: 1.75 percent
Sugar: 1.5 percent
Instant Dry Yeast: 0.375 percent
Oil: 2 percent Water: 58 percent

Let’s say we want to use 35 pounds of flour. To find the amount of each ingredient, using your handy calculator enter the flour weight X the ingredient percent and press the “%” key, then read the ingredient weight in the display window. Remember, the ingredient weight will be in the same weight units that the flour weight is expressed in. To manipulate the size of your dough, simply plug in the new flour weight and repeat the above calculator entries. It really is that easy.

If you already know the ingredient weights and you want to put the formula into baker’s percent, start out by putting 100 percent next to the flour weight. Flour is always equal to 100 percent. Then divide each ingredient weight by the flour weight and multiply by 100 to get the baker’s percent for each of the ingredients.

Here are a couple of neat things that you can use baker’s percent for:

If you add up all of the percentages, in the example formula above, we get 163.625 percent. Divide this by 100 and you get 1.63625 (call it 1.63). How much dough will this formula make? To answer that question just multiply the flour weight by 1.63. If we are using 35 pounds of flour we will get 1.63 x 35 = 57.05 (call it 57 pounds) of dough. If I were to increase the dough weight to 40 pounds we would get 1.63 x 40 = 65.2 (call it 65 pounds) of dough. u If you have an order for 30 large pizzas tomorrow, and your dough weight for each large pizza is 17½ ounces, how much dough would you need to make just for this order? Here is how you do it:
30 x 17.5-ounces = 525-ounces of dough will be needed. Divide the total dough weight (525 ounces) by 1.63 to find the total flour weight needed to make a dough weighing 525-ounces. 525 divided by 1.63 = 322.08 (call it 321ounces/20 pounds) of flour would be needed to make the dough for this order.

As you can see, baker’s percent can be a pretty handy tool to work with.

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

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