Learning to calculate individual ingredients for a certain dough mass will make you fit the loaf in the tin every time. It will take out the guess work when making a certain number of breads of certain weight. Be it loaves or rolls, you will always know the exact amount of each ingredient needed.
Loaf tins come in standard sizes for the most part. Usually in 0.5lb (225g) increments. I own tins that are 2lb (900g), 1.5lb (680g), 1lb (450g), and 0.5lb (225g).
Saying that, the suggested weight will not always be a rule to follow. If you are making a lean dough that is not meant to be very light and fluffy, then you should make it according to the suggested weight of the tin. But if you are making an enriched loaf which will be rising high, then you should aim for a lower dough mass as it may climb out of the tin too much and not look very appealing.
Rarely, would there be a case for using more dough than suggested on the tin. Perhaps if making a rye bread which can be quite dense.
This formula is not only useful for making the loaf for the tin. When it comes to making several individual rolls or loaves, then these calculations will come in handy too.
It all comes down to Baker’s Percentage
You must understand baker’s math to be able to calculate any ingredient for breadmaking. I have made a full video covering this topic and you can find it in the Principles of Baking playlist on my channel.
Baker’s percentage is a way of calculating the amount of any ingredient in relation to the total amount of flour in the recipe. No matter how much flour is being used, be it 250g or 250kg, the flour will always be 100%.
All other ingredients are a calculated as a percentage in relation to the flour.
Water can range from around 50% up to and over 100%. Yeast can be as little as 0.1% and up to 1.4% and more. Salt can be 0% in some cases and up to around 2.5%.
Example of calculating ingredients in relation to flour
Making a dough with 500g flour that has a 60% hydration, 1.2% yeast, and 2% salt.
60% of 500g = 300g. Or (500 x 0.6) = 300. That gives the amount of water.
1.2% of 500g = 6g. Or (500 x 0.012) = 6. This is how much yeast is needed.
2% of 500g = 10g. Or (500 x 0.02) = 10. That’s the salt.
This is a quick and easy way of writing a recipe. But it only allows us to choose a certain amount of flour and then calculate the other ingredients. If we want to find out the exact ingredient weights in a set dough mass, then we need some additional formulas.
Calculating individual ingredients from total dough mass
Let’s say you want to make a dough to for your 2lb (900g) loaf tin. It is a lean dough with relatively low hydration, so you will make the whole 900g.
The flour in the dough is 100%. The hydration is 60%, yeast is 1.2%, and salt is 2%. Same as the dough we calculated above.
We must add up all the percentage numbers of this dough.
(100 + 60 + 1.2 + 2) = 163.2. This is the total number of percent.
Now we must find out how many grams 1% of this dough weighs. To find this number we must divide the total dough mass with the total number of percent.
(900 : 163.2) = 5.51. So, 1% of this dough weighs 5.51g. I have rounded this down slightly to only have two decimal numbers to make the following calculations less messy.
From here we only need to find out the amount of flour and then we can use baker’s math to calculate the other ingredients.
We know that the flour is always 100%. So, (100 x 5.51) = 551g. The rest of the ingredients are a percentage in relation to this number.
And that’s how simple it is. To make a recipe neater, I would round that flour number down to 550g and then calculate the other ingredients from there. All the numbers can be rounded just a bit to not have decimals. A fraction of a gram will not make a huge difference.
More advanced recipes
No matter how many ingredients there are, the principle stays the same. Let’s make an enriched dough with butter, eggs, and sugar. It will be light and rise high because of these ingredients, so we will make a smaller dough for our 2lb (900g) tin. It will weigh 800g.
Flour – 100%; Water – 47%; Yeast – 1.5%; Salt 2%; Sugar – 4%; Butter – 9%; Egg – 10%.
Total number of percent – (100 + 47 + 1.5 + 2 + 4 + 9 + 10) = 173.5.
1% weight – (800 : 173.5) = 4.61g.
Flour – (100 x 4.61) = 461g. This is the only number you need to know. The other ingredients are just a percentage of it.
Making several rolls or loaves
Let’s say you want to make 10 burger buns which will weigh 125g each.
Total dough mass – (10 x 125) = 1250g. From here the calculations are the same as above. All you need to know are the percentages, which are up to you.
Figuring out percentages of ingredients in any recipe.
If you want to adjust the size of a dough from a set recipe you will need to know the percentages of ingredients. The easiest way to do this is by dividing any ingredient with the flour.
So, for example a recipe with 500g flour and 300g water. 300 : 500 = 0.6. This means that the water (hydration) is 60%. The same goes for all other ingredients.
If you would like to learn more principles of baking and how ingredients affect the dough you are making, then head over to the Principles of Baking playlist.
Watch the video down below for more info.
Watch the video here