Friday, September 9, 2011

Baker's math

 So here's the rub...  Say you find a good recipe but it uses enough flour to feed a third world nation.  What to do?  It's easy... just scale it back :)

I bought a cheap digital kitchen scale a couple of weeks ago and now do all of my measuring by weight.  I don't really think this is absolutely necessary but it does make scaling recipes easier.  There's nothing worse than trying to re-calculate cups, tablespoons or teaspoons (these are ridiculous units of measure :) ).   In my "formulas" or recipes, all of the weights of ingredients are in % of the total flour used (flour being 100%).   This  "baker's math" sounds like it will be complicated at first but it's actually very easy.

Example:  A Sourdough Pizza recipe (I'll try this next week with the SD starter I'm in the process  making).  As you can see, this uses a lot of flour; something like 5 or 6 cups I think.  Way too much...

           Ingredient                  Amount            Baker's %

  • Filtered water:               550 g               65.5%
  • Unbleached AP flour:    850 g             100.0%
  • Sea salt:                           30 g                 3.5%
  • Dry yeast:                        2.5 g                 .25%
  • Sourdough starter:          60 g                 9.0%

Look at the Baker's % column.   I want to make one pie and I'm thinking 150 grams of flour (about a cup) should do it.  To calculate the amounts of the other ingredients needed, I simply do the math based on the baker's % shown above:

Flour: 100% = 150 g
Water: 65.5% = 98.25 g (this is the hydration level)
Salt: 3.5% = 5.2 g
Starter: 9% = 13.5 g
Yeast: .25% = .375 g

The result is a smaller batch but one where each "ingredient to flour ratio" is identical to the original formula.  

If you remember the ratios, all of the amounts of ingredients can be calculated based on how much flour you are calling for.  So, if you're down to your last bit of flour and want to use it all up, doing so is a snap using Baker's Math. :)



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