Baker’s Percentage your secret to better & more consistent homemade pizza

Before we explain the secret of Baker’s Percentage and our simple easy to use  baker’s percentage calculator, here are a few questions to help you understand why this simple technique will make your pizza and bread dough incredibly better:

Have you ever wondered if your measuring cup size is the same size cup your recipe asks for?

Have you ever wished there was an easy way to scale up your recipe to make a bigger batch of dough, or have the right dough ball to fit your pizza stone?

Have you ever wondered how professionals make pizza dough of a consistently great quality, time after time?

The answer to all those questions and more lies with Baker’s Percentage, a little-known dough-making secret.

Professional bakers do not use “recipes”.  They use “formulas”.   Formulas show basic proportions of ingredients, calculated and expressed as percentages.  It looks tricky, but is really very easy to learn and use.

For years, I measured my pizza dough ingredients in measuring cups, tablespoons and teaspoons. I was unaware that they can be very inaccurate depending on the method of adding the ingredient to the cup that I used to measure. Also, I used both liquid and dry measuring cups, but I’ve come to realize by talking to friends that some of them don’t own both types of cups and some don’t know that two types of measuring cups exist.

Flour measurements can be one of the biggest variables when it comes to the finished dough. Flour packs, and scooping the ingredient with your measuring cup will cause packing, which can add up quickly especially when your recipe calls for multiple cups.

In attempt to get more consistent results when measuring my flour, I tried the following method.  I kept my flour in a big plastic container and used a spoon to fluff it up within the container. Then, I used a spoon to scoop the flour into my measuring cup, together with a knife to level the flour across the measuring cup. Despite all that trouble, I knew my measurements were not accurate at all.

Then, one day, AImlessRyan a fellow member on pizzamaking forum introduced me to the Bakers’ Percentage which required a scale to weigh my ingredients. I hated the idea at first. It sounded complicated. Why did I need a formula to figure out my pizza dough?

In the end, I looked into it, bought a $28 kitchen scale (with 0.1g resolution) from Amazon and never looked back. Learning Bakers’ Percentage has made preparing great pizza dough so much easier and more enjoyable.

Give me 5 minutes and I’ll teach you to use Bakers’ Percentage. It’s easy when you know how, and just involves simple multiplication you can do in your head or on your phone’s calculator.

Understand Baker’s Percentage in 5 minutes

When you’re making pizza dough (or bread for that matter), it’s not quite the amounts of ingredients that give you good or bad results, but having the right ratio of flour to water, to yeast and so on. Bakers’ Percentage is all about ratios of ingredients by weight not volume (including the liquid!).

The weight of flour you need is considered to be 100%, and all the other ingredients are expressed as a percentage of that. (If you are mixing different kinds of flour, add up all the flour weights and use that as your 100%)  Of course, your total ingredients will add up to more than 100% (unlike regular percentages). Just don’t worry about that.

I like using the metric system weight measurement for this purpose.  It is more precise and less confusing than the weight and measurement system we ordinarily use in the United States.   In the metric system, units of weight and measure are based in increments of 10.

So if your recipe calls for 50% water (what bakers call 50% hydration), that just means you use half as much water as flour. Starting with 200 grams of flour, for example, you then add 100 grams of water, meaning 100 ml (One milliliter of water weights one gram). So far, so good.

Now what if you need to add 3% salt? How much is that. If 100% = 200 grams, 3% = how much?

Here’s the easy way to do it: Figure out what is 1% of your flour weight, and just multiply by the percentages for all the other ingredients.

In our example,

1% of 200 grams = 200/100 = 2 grams.

3% salt is then: 2 x 3 = 6 grams, of salt.

2% yeast means 2 x 2 = 4 grams, of yeast.

Do the same for your other ingredients, weigh them up on a scale and mix as instructed. Congratulations! You’ve just mastered Bakers’ Percentage, and the secret to precise and consistent pizza dough is yours.

Note: I like to have a 260 g dough ball to fit on MPS 14” pizza stone. I like my pies thin, for a thicker dough I use 275 dough ball. You can adjust your dough ball weight depending on the size of your pizza stone, and on how thick you want your pizza to be.

It is also very easy to prepare a certain weight of pizza dough from a recipe expressed in Bakers’ Percentage. Say you want 260 g of pizza dough ball and 3 dough balls which is a total of 780 g.

Based on the following recipe.

Ingredient

Baker’s Percent Formula
Flour 100%
Water 62%
Yeast 0.5%
Salt 3%
Oil 2%
Sugar 0%

You first add up all the percentages: 100 + 2 +3 + 0 + 0.5 + 62 = 167.5

Then you divide your desired dough weight by the total (167.5), to find the weight of 1%.

1% = 780/167.5 = 4.67 g. (remember this is 1% of the weight flour you need, not of the total weight)

Now just multiply the percentages for each ingredient by 4.67 and round to the nearest 0.01 of a gram, and you will get the precise weight of each ingredient you need to use, as in the following table.

Ingredient

Baker’s Percent Formula
Flour 465.67 g
Water 288.72 g
Yeast 2.33 g
Salt 13.97 g
Oil 9.31 g
Sugar 0 g

Simply weigh your ingredients, mix as instructed, and you’ll get your 780g of pizza dough, following the recipe exactly.

Instead of doing your claculation by hand, use our online baker’s percentage calculator  to figure out how much of each ingredient you need, based on the number dough balls that you want to make and the weight of each dough ball. Plus our online claculator predict amount of yeast you need based on your desired fermentation time and temperature.

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