How-to use Baker's Percentage

Baker’s Percentage

What is baker’s percentage? How exactly can this help you in you the kitchen?

Have you ever tried to scale a recipe up or down, with terrible results? Most recipes can’t be just doubled or tripled or cut in half, etc... you need to make sure that when you change an ingredient, all of them are changed to be the correct balance as the original recipe. 

There are two types of percentages. Total percentage and Baker’s Percentage.

Total percentage is calculated based on the total weight of all the ingredients in the recipe or formula.  When added together, the total weight is 100%.

Baker’s percentage is when the quantity of each ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the total amount of the flour used in the formula. The flour in the formula is always 100%. You will usually use this method for cakes, cookies and breads. Generally, baker’s percentage is used when the primary ingredient is flour.

For an example, I will use this Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Please note: switching your recipes to either grams or ounces will work best.

Yields: 24 cookies – 29 grams ea
75 gr sugar     37.5%
100 gr brown sugar    50%
100 gr butter     50%
3 gr salt     1.5%
50 gr eggs     25%
200 gr flour     100% - In a bakers percentage, we know that the flour is 100%
3 gr baking soda    1.5%
170 grams chocolate chips   85%
Total weight: 701 Grams  Total Percentage: 350.5%

Sugar, 75 grams 37.5%
Brown sugar, 100 grams 50%
Butter, 100 grams 50%
Salt, 3 grams 1.5%
Eggs, 50 grams 25%
Flour, 200 grams 100% (in baker's percentage, we know that flour is 100%)
Baking Soda, 3 grams 1.5%
Chocolate chips, 170 grams 85%
Total weight: 701 grams Total Percentage: 350.5%

Now that I have probably confused you, let me break it down. The reason that baker's percentage is an important tool to any baker is that, it allows us at a glance, to know some things about the result of the baked item. For example, a cookie that is high in fat in relation to the flour content, will have a more crumbly pastry than one that is lower. Breads made with flour, water, salt and yeast will have a more crispy crust. When even a small amount of fat is added, the loaf will be more tender and have less crisp to the crust. Once you get used to writing your recipes like this, it is very easy to adjust them. Meaning increase or decrease the recipe/formula. Using the percentage gives you more precise measurements, thus ensuring that our finished baked product will be just as good whether you scaled down or up the recipe/formula.  

Let’s take a look at our cookie recipe again.

I want to make this recipe bigger. Let’s say, I need to make 72 cookies.

Step 1 - Determine the new yield needed. Converting the recipe in to ounces or grams will ensure accuracy
Step 2- Divide the total baker's percentage from your original recipe by 100 to get the baker's percentage conversion factor for your formula.
Total baker's percentage /100 = B.P. conversion Factor
Step 3 -  Divide the new formula yield by the B.P. conversion factor.
New formula Yield/B.P. Conversion Factor= Quantity for new formula.
Step 4- Calculate the quantity of the other ingredients required by multiplying the baker's percentage for each ingredient by the new flour weight.

72 x 29 grams = 2088 grams                                                                                         
350.5 / 100 = 3.5 (this is the B.P. conversion factor) 
2088 /3.5 = 596.5 (round up to 597 grams) flour  

Here is the new recipe.

Sugar 597 x 37.55 223.875 (224 grams)
Brown Sugar 597 x 50 298.5 (299 grams)
Butter 597 x 50 298.5 (299 grams)
Salt 597 x 1.5 9 grams
Eggs 597 x 25 149.25 (149 grams)
Flour 2088/3.5 597 grams
Baking Soda 597 x 1.5 9 grams
Chocolate Chips  597 x 85 507.45 (508 grams)

You can use the same formula to decrease or scale down a recipe as well. Let’s again use this same cookie recipe to determine how much I need to make 12 cookies.

Yield: 12 cookies – 29 grams each

29 x 12 = 348 grams
350.5/100 =  3.5 grams
348/3.5 = 99.42 grams flour. You can round up to 100 grams

Here is the new recipe.

Sugar 37.5 x 100 37.5 (38 grams)
Brown Sugar 50 x 100 50 grams
Butter 50 x 100 50 grams
Salt 1.5 x 100 1.5 grams
Eggs 25 x 100 25 grams
Flour 100 grams   100 grams
Baking Soda 1.5 x 100 1.5 grams
Chocolate Chips 100 x85 85 grams
    Total Grams: 350 grams

Hopefully, you can see that by using the baker's percentage, you can achieve a more accurate recipe that will ensure you the same results each time. If you have many old family recipes on hand, you may want to take some time to convert them to ounces or grams. This will allow you to increase or decrease the size or your batches efficiently. Once you play with this a little, you will see how easy it can become. Being able to glance at a recipe and know what the texture and finish will be can greatly help you in becoming a more confident baker.

If you are an at home baker, that sells your products, this can be the best tool in guaranteeing the consistency of your products. This is vital when selling items. Customers will return over and over again, they are unhappy when your items are not consistent. To keep customers, family and friends happy, you need a method of ensuring that you will have the same product each and every time. That is where the baker’s percentage will become your new best friend.