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Ratio vs. Percentage

Nov 12, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

Bake Bread Instead!

i was browsing the internet yesterday and came across a lively discussion/dispute as to whether the "dough percentage" in my book was a percentage or a ratio.

technically, a percentage is based on the total, for example if the total weight of the dough were 100 grams and water used to make it were 40 grams the water would be 40% of the total. but NOT with the traditional baker's percentage in which the percentage of the water (or any other ingredient) is based on the flour whose value is given as 100%. this makes it easier for bakers to scale the ingredients up and down and to create new formulas (recipes).

so in this bread which weighs 100 grams (for clarity let's leave out the small weight of yeast and salt) if the water weighs 40 grams and the flour 60 grams, to get the baker's % you divide the weight of the water by the flour and get 66.6%

in my listing of the percentage of water i also included residual water, for ex. if i added banana or honey i included the amount of water contained in this ingredient. this information is not necessary to the success of the recipe. it is there to give a sense of what to expect from the texture of the bread. a bread of 66% hydration is average. 72% hydration will have a crumb with larger more open holes, etc. etc.

NOW: enough of this nonsense and BAKE THE ___BREAD!!!



Both baker's and Rose's dough percentages keep flour at 100%. Other ingredients are calculated as a percent of the flour. The distinction between the two is that a baker's percentage lists every single ingredient as a ratio to the flour, whereas in a dough percentage, the ingredients are grouped into categories, such as water, fat, etc. As you noticed, an ingredient might contribute in part to more than one category.

Also, the purposes are different. The baker's percentage is primarily for scaling whereas the dough percentage is primarily for understanding at a glance the water and fat content, etc. of the dough.

That being said, the dough percentage is practical in nature, and not an exacting nutritional measurement of the dough composition. For instance, all flour contains some moisture, but for ease in calculating, the flour is kept at 100% and the moisture it contains is not listed under water. If you want to know more about the exact content of each ingredient, you can consult USDA National Nutrient Database online.

For me, the easiest way to scale is just to multiply all the ingredient weights up or down by the same factor.


Oops, my question actually has nothing to do with "ratio vs. percentage" even though that's the topic here. I posted my question here even though it's "off topic" simply because I couldn't find any better place.

My continuing confusion seems to stem from the same term "dough percentages" being used to refer to two rather different things:

One thing is similar to "bakers percentages", except the 100% is the weight of the entire dough rather than just the flour.

The other thing "characterizes" a dough, listing bits like "fat" and "sweetening" that often don't exactly correspond to a single ingredient.

Can somebody enlighten me further?


there are only two different types of % i know: the one i described where you treat flour as 100% and divide each ingredient by it or the % where you total all the ingredients and then each ingredient is a % of the total. just for a wild ex: if you have 50% flour and 40% water and 10% other ingredients that =s 100%.


chuck, you just divide the weight of each ingredient by the weight of the flour and that gives you the % of each.

to scale up and down you just keep the same ratio of ingredients and multiply each one.


Sorry for asking a dumb question the answer to which is most likely already available somewhere that I just haven't found yet...

Your "Dough percentages" are great for characterizing different doughs, for showing which doughs are most similar. How can I calculate "dough percentages" myself for additional recipes that don't come with them?

(Also, do I assume correctly that unlike the similarly named "bakers percentages", dough percentages are not useful for scaling a recipe up or down?)


I found some interesting questions about ration vs percentage on http://www.answeraddict.com/faq/baking-questions


Hi Rose,
I just bought Harvest King flour and saw your Hearth bread recipe....congrats..
I'm going to adapt it to my Dak bread machine..((*))?((*))....
the olives in in should be delish.....
Andi in Vegas....


if you bake it a little longer it won't deflate after removing it from the oven.


hi Rose, I bake alot of bread mostly crusty european bread and noticed that when i remove the bread from the oven and hear the crackling sound which is wonderful but a few minute later the beautiful golden crust starts to crack alll over.How do i avoid this problem?


frazer this is so much fun--everyone around the world making this bread and commenting. i'm so glad i got on the bandwagon. glad you sent the photo bc i can see that you added a good bit of whole wheat flour which as i'm sure you know provides little to no gluten so between the gentle rising technique and the high % of ww---big craters.

i intend to try my pugliese and new steamer with the gentle stirring and long rising and see what happens. it does have other flours but not a high %. actually it's on the cover of the bread bible so you can see what a nice open structure it normally has anyway. it will provide a good basis for comparison. will probably have to wait til next week. i'll post the findings when i'm done playing with this!


This is how mine turned out--a little flat, with a big crater towards the top. (You can see a photo on my blog: http://brooklynsod.blogspot.com ) I used some whole wheat bread flour, which he says in the recipe is fine. I made two batches; the first had a slightly "cheesy" taste to it that I didn't love, so I added 1 tbl. malt powder to the second batch which ended up with a more appealingly balanced, sort of "nutty" flavor. The first batch I measured loosely, the second I weighed (about 77% h2o,) but the feel and end result was almost the same--good, but not amazing. I have to say, I much prefer your focaccia from "The Bread Bible."


some one just kindly sent me the link to the ny times no knead bread video: http://video.on.nytimes.com/ifr_main.jsp?nsid=b77bd3890:10eccb5a131:ce5&fr_story=35eac03d90314ffed6a0c0ae143ab87b1474fb89&st=1163078924013&mp=FLV&cpf=false&fvn=9&fr=110906_082844_77bd3890x10eccb5a131xce6&rdm=159662.30211779475

i watched the video and he only used 1 1/2 cups of water not 1 5/8 cups as was listed in the ny times. this is an extra 2 tablespoons and using the amount originally intended would indeed make the dough much more manageable..

the 1 5/8 cups water gave it the hydration of 82%, the 1 1/2 cups water 75.6%! i thought 1 5/8 cup an unusual amount to see in a recipe published in the new york times!


o.k. phase one--i added the water to the flour mixture and perfecto--just as they described--shaggy, sticky--but not soupy. i'm wondering ted if you were using more water than called for or else a lower protein flour. i used the newly available and wonderful harvest king. stay tuned--by tomorrow night i'll have the results. right now we're stuck with the fabulous sicilian pistachio i just retested for the upcoming book. i used bright green iranian pistachios brought back from france ALMOST SIX YEARS AGO!!! i vacuum packed them and froze them and the flavor is still fantastic. amazing.


ted--i have the flour, yeast, and salt mixed and am waiting til 5 to add the water so when i return at 2 pm tomorrow it will be ready to shape.

here is the weight i extrapolated: (as a admittedly nasty comment i find that when people offer volume it is as if to say "look how easy it is" when all they're guaranteeing is inconsistent results and possible failure.--i'm sorry guys but it is so frustrating and so very easy when you weigh)

468 grams flour (16.4 oz.)
384 grams water (13.5 oz)
1/4 teaspoons yeast 0.8 grams on a scale designed to weigh such small amounts otherwise measuring spoon is just fine here
1 3/4 teaspoons salt/10.5 grams

this works out to be baker's % 82%
my ciabatta is 83.9% so if you judge from that you will know that you need to add LOTS of flour for the shaping.

still i doubt that the bread--which should be wonderful--will look like the photo in the ny times. i think that will require a hydration more like 80% (the pugliese) but shouldn't be that far off.

i'm going to post a little chart of how much yeast for how much flour/water depending on temperature and time though of course it's somewhere in that bread bible! just not right now....but i think it will be valuable for people to plan their timing.

re your question--i'm not sure yet if you used the same weight of ingredients i did. if you did, then maybe some kneading is indNEAD required! i'm curious to find out first hand.

p.s. i think the ny times has a video of the sullivan street bread being made in which it shows the baker dipping the cup into the bin and shaking off the excess flour so it probably really is only 3 cups of flour. if you used a measuring cup for the water it could be off and adding more than the 1 5/8 cups (22 tablespoons/11 fluid ounces) that were probably intended. by the way, the yeast os 0.17% and the salt the standard 2.2%


thank you so much for your prompt reply about the NYTimes/Bittman recipe. i have long made your hearth bread, or various versions of it (in the 90s i was using recipes from Bread Alone by Daniel Leader). i've found that autolyse is a great recent revelation, as you describe in the bible. so i'd been wondering if the Bittman recipe might represent a short-cut, less-kneading, with no need to get out the KitchenAid mixer. well, i just tried to turn his no-knead soup into something resembling a loose ball. no luck, not even close! i had to add a solid cup of flour (to his 3 cups) just to make it something other than a puddle on my work surface. major frustration! are his proportions off? i know that a wet dough renders good results, but this seems far too wet. i also can't imagine it's good to add so much flour at such a late point. all of this is to say--i'm headed right back to your hearth loaf. any thoughts about why the Bittman recipe didn't pan out? i'm guessing you'd say that some kneading is better than no kneading?



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