Most home bakers use a recipe to make bread which is made up of cups, tablespoons and other measurements. Most serious baker use a formula all of the ingredients are in one type of measurement like grams. There is a difference between a recipe and a formula; a recipe can be doubled without affecting the end product. You can not take a recipe for a loaf of bread and expand it to make 50 loafs the proportions will not work, but with a formula you can.
Before we go into the formula, lets talk a little about the important basic guidelines for using the baker's percentage.
1. All ingredients are measured by weight, including liquids; they should be measured using a consistent unit of measure, for example grams. You do need a scale, once you have one you will wonder why you didn't buy one sooner. The time savings alone is worth the cost of the scale which is about $20.00.
2. The main ingredient in the recipe (formula) is flour....it's always considered 100%. When two or more types of flours are used in the formula, their combined total is considered 100%.
3. The weights of all other ingredients are expressed as a percentage of the total flour weight.
Real life you are making your favorite loaf of bread and it always seems to be so sticky, and you have a problem with it falling when baked. Could it be the recipe? Is there to much water in the recipe? How can I tell?
Bread Recipe (example only)
Flour 511 g (if using 2 types of flour add together for total flour)
salt 4 g
yeast 6 g
milk + water = 400 g (if using 2 types of liquid add together for total liquid like this example)
honey 42 g (even though this is liquid it's not enough to be added to the liquid total)
butter 28 g (melted butter is not enough to be added to the liquid total)
The only numbers we are concerned about are the flour (511 g) and the liquid (400 g) to find the hydration of the recipe.
Formula = Liquid will give you the ratio of fluid to flour in the recipe
Recipe Liquid 400 g = .78 .78 x 100% = 78% hydration
Flour 511 g
So what does this mean that my bread has 78% hydration?
Every type of bread is best at a certain percentage; this recipe is at 78%, which is too wet if you are making loaf bread.
Loaf Bread should be 68 - 72% hydration
Artisan Bread has 75 -80% hydration, much more liquid, this causes the open holes in the finished bread.
The recipe needs adjusting but how much liquid do I decrease in the recipe to get to 72% hydration? Instead of guessing lets use math and get it correct the first time.
What do you know?
You want the bread to be 75% hydration ...we know that
You know the amount of flour in the recipe is 511 g
What you want to figure out is how much water do I need to add to the recipe?
75% (correct hydration) 75 g or expressed as .75
511 g flour x .75 =383.25 g water (is desired total water for recipe)
Therefore; in above recipe:
Replace milk + water = 400 g to: milk + water = 383 g
You can reduce the water only, milk only or a combination, as long as the total amount of liquid is no more than 383 g. This should correct your problem when making your bread. Go ahead and give it a try, adjust again if needed using the same formula.