Bread Formula Construction

There has been a great deal of progress in the methods used to construct bread formulas. Many years ago bread formulas were expressed in Pail, Bucket or Gallon. Today, formulas are expressed in percentages and is referred to as Baker’s Percentage Method…the formula is then converted to pounds and ounces.

When expressing formulas in the percentage system, 100 pounds of flour always represents 100 percent. Percentages of all other ingredients are based on the flour. Although, this may seem confusing, it is a very accurate method which you can see using this method below.

The amount of ingredient necessary to produce a given amount of bread can be calculated right down to pounds and fractions of ounces. The following is an example of a white bread formula using the Baker’s Percentage Method.

Construction of a bread formula to determine pounds and ounces of each ingredient to use, to produce 500 pounds of bread.

Note: Dough loses weight by giving off gasses and moisture and by a small amount of dough that sticks to the mixer. This amount of loss averages about 2 percent. Dough also loses weight during the proofing, baking and cooling. This loss usually averages about 11 percent. These losses must be taken into consideration when constructing a bread formula — the total percentage loss equals13 percent.

The following example explains how to take the above losses into consideration when determining the exact weight of each ingredient to use in the formula to produce a certain amount of bread:

  1. Pounds of bread required =500 pounds.
  2. 100% = ( Total percentage of ingredients to use to produce500 pounds of bread ).
  3. Total loss = 13 %.
    1. 100% - 13% = 87% after loss. This is the net percentage of bread ( 500 ) that can be produced from 100% of ingredients.
    2. To find how much 100% ingredients equals, it is necessary to divide 500 pounds of baked bread by 87%. This is referred to as the amount of dough required to produce 500 pounds of bread.

Note: Remember that when using percentages, you must move the decimal point two points to the left.


  • 500 pounds of bread required divided by .87 = 574.71 pounds of ingredients to use in the formula.
  • 574.71 pounds of ingredients divided by the total formula percent ( 180% ) = 319.28 pounds of flour to use.

Since all ingredients in the formula are based on the flour, the percent of each ingredient is multiplied times the pounds of flour in the formula.
Converting the straight dough formula to a sponge-and-dough formula.

First the baker must decide what percentage of the flour in the straight dough formula will go into the sponge dough formula. This varies with the strength of the flour and with a flour having a relatively high protein content. Also if the protein is of very good quality, 75% of the formula flour would go into the sponge, and 25% would go into the dough. The amount varies depending on several factors, and through experience, the baker can determine what percentages produce the best results. Other percentage ratios can be used such as 60/40,70/30, etc. The baker’s percentage system of formula computation applies as well to the sponge and dough method as it does to the straight dough method.

Note: At this time it is a good idea to mention why water is always listed as variable in bread formulas. That is because no two flour’s have the same absorption quality — only experience will determine this. This usually changes each time a new shipment of flour is received.

Mixing the sponge.

Prepare the ingredients for the sponge in accordance with information contained in Part Two, Principles of Bread Production.

  1. Temper the water.
  2. Mix the sponge only about 3 or 4 minutes because full gluten development is not required at this time.
  3. Have the sponge come out of the mixer at 76 degrees F. rather than 80 degrees F for the dough. Sponges ferment for several hours, therefore the temperature rise during fermentation will remain in the alcoholic fermentation range.

Note: When the sponge is returned to the mixer after it has gone through the fermentation stage. To be remixed with the dough ingredients, the dough must be mixed until the gluten has been fully developed (as explained in Part Two, Principles of Bread Production). The dough temperature should be about 80 degrees F when it comes out of the mixer.

This completes part three on Bread Formulas and Bread Formula Construction. Today people are demanding a variety in foods, part four- Variety Breads will help you to meet this demand.

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