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Bakers Percentages

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I am currently in culinary arts taking baking this month. My 7th month in school. Gets harder the longer you're in doesn't it. Well, I will admit that I was not really paying attention 36 years ago when I barely made it through Algebra class. Now I wish I had done all that was expected of me and committed it to memory. Fractions~~ they are going to kill me! And where are they getting the numbers they get in the examples in the book? The book is Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen. If I don't figure out bakers percentages and yields soon I think I am going to have a stroke. There must be an easy way to figure this stuff out. I will ask the Chef tomorrow to give me a one on one lesson in the mathematics of it all, but am afraid I'm not going to get it. Now how embarrassing is that going to be when you consider the Chef is a year younger than my own son. I'm probably making this harder than it really is, aren't I?

post #2 of 5
Take a deep breath, open your book and look in appendix 3 for the Decimal Equivalents to Common Fractions. That should solve most of your problems, and without a calculator.

The way to convert a decimal equivalent to a percentage is as follows: 0.XY = XY% for instance, 0.375 = 37.5%. The reverse is also true: 37.5% = 0.375. This makes more sense still if you remember (or find in the appendix) that 0.375 = 3/8.

Here's an (over-simplified) example. "Basic French bread requires 25% to 33% water, by weight, depending on humidity. How much water for 1doz standard loaves?" Start with making percentages fractions. Between 1/4 (25%) and (1/3) of the total weight of the unbaked dough will be water.

Cool. Let's wrestle it to the floor. Start with your conversion constants: A pint's a pound, the world around and a standard loaf is 1.5 (1-1/2) lbs. 12 standard loaves x 1-1/2 = 12 lbs + 6 lbs = 18 lbs.


Now, 1/4 of 18 = 4-1/2. And, 1/3 of 18 = 6.

So you need between 4-1/2 pints (2 qts plus 1 cup water) and 6 pints (3 qts) water. You can subtract the water weights from 18 lb total to determine the flour weight at between 13-1/2 and 12 pounds, since the weight of the other ingredients (yeast and salt) is negligible.

Metric conversions are easier. Forget everything you know about cups, pints, pounds, etc., and trust your measuring cups. 0.5 L will always be 500 mL. And in water will weigh 500 gm which will always be 1/2 Kg. 25% of a liter is 0.35 L is 350 mL


If you have some specific example with which you'd like help, be more than happy to oblige.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Wow. I think I need to wrap my head around all that for a 1/2 day or so. I'm sitting here with my book open in front of me looking at appendix 3. That definitely helps, doesn't it. Thanks tons. I will surely holler if I need any further instructions. Boy it's tough teaching this old overused brain. I did my own business taxes for 23 years. You'd think I could get this quicker.
post #4 of 5
Yeah I really think your looking into it to much. Whatever ingred. is the most in the formula will be 100%. Be it flour, sugar, or whatever. Then everything else will be a percentage of that. This will be a real simple example, but. If you have two #s of flour, and the formula calls for 50% sugar that means one #. Yes, like I said that is a very simple example. That's all there is to %s though.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
The lightbulb finally came on at about 11:30 last night and I can't believe how thick my head was!! Embarassing for someone my age. Thanks for all the help. So easy. Geeze.
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