Baker's Percentages

leonfurze's picture

Hi all Just wondering what everyone's thoughts are about baker's percentages? I don't include the starter flour in the total flour weight, mainly because I use the same type of starter in all my recipes (1:1 rye) so I can represent my starter as a percentage of the flour in the final build. Do others break it down and include the starter flour weight in the total flour weight? I've got a baking blog and have written a post about it if anyone would like more info:

414 users have voted.


raymontigus 2015 August 18


Interesting question. I've wondered myself. I read just the other day and can't remember where, that there are two systems in use: those that include the starter and those that don't. If you're changing a recipe, you really need to know what system the  baker has used.  One baker recently said, they calculate the percentage of flour in the stater and add that to the added flour, and treat the liquid the same way. 

Modifying many recipes as I am at the moment, maybe this accounts for why some are very successful and others aren't. 

Let's see what others think.


farinam's picture
farinam 2015 August 18

Hi guys,

The real use of baker's percentages is in scaling recipes up or down as in whether you want you make dough with 500g of flour or 100kg.  Which is why bakers started using this method so that the recipe was effectively independent of the size of the bakery or the batch that was required.  So normally the starter would be specified both in terms of its hydration and bakers percentage eg starter  - 65% hydration, bakers percentage 18%.

Hydration is the one over which there is some differences  (and I think this might be what raymontigus might have been talking about) where some don't include the flour and water in the starter in the hydration calculation.  It sort of doesn't matter in the scheme of things as long as the starter hydration is clearly specified so that adjustments can be made if a different starter hydration or amount is being used for some reason.

Good luck with your projects.


leonfurze's picture
leonfurze 2015 August 18

Thanks for your input guys,

I think that the whole percentages idea is more specialised to commercial baking than home baking, but that it is a useful thing to know especially when troubleshooting recipes. From now on I'll be including the flour weight from the starter in the total flour weight as that gives a more accurate total hydration

farinam's picture
farinam 2015 August 18

Hello leonfurze,

Hydration, in terms of the dough characteristics, is not only the water component so in your beetroot bread recipe there will be liquid (water) that is contributed from that wet component but that is indeterminate by and large though it can be estimated and so it is not possible to say 'exactly' what the 'hydration' is.  Based on the water addition the hydration could be thought of as on the mid/low range but if the beetroot water is taken into account the hydration could equate with the dough being soft and 'wet'.

I don't think that the idea of the baker's percentage as a scaling tool, even if it is a water/flour only based recipe is for the bakers percentage of water and the hydration to be necessarily the same number.  And in fact, in terms of the scalability of the recipe including the flour and water from the starter in their respective components means that they are being counted twice.  If there are other liquid components in the recipe such as milk, yogurt, honey, or even beetroot etc then the effective hydration of the dough will be markedly different to the baker's percentage of water.

In my view, if you are quoting a recipe as baker's percentage it has to be based on the dry flour component because everything that bakers did was based on so many pounds/bags/truckloads of flour and everything else is related to that.  But, if a starter/poolish/biga is used, then the hydration of that has to be specified either in the declaration of the ingredient or in a previous stage of the recipe.

If you want to nominate a hydration for the finished dough then that should be done as a separate calculation that includes the liquids and flour included in the leavening component as well as any other liquids in the recipe.

Goos luck with your projects.


Staff 2015 August 20



That was a confusing forum! I use bakers % for baking- weigh the flour and then use that as my base for everything else. Starter cultures do confuse things a a bit but just flex a bit either up or down with the percentages. great for salt and yeast calcs though.




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