This form allows you to calculate the amount of flour and water needed to make bread doughs at various percentages you choose. Please refer to the bread math post for a detailed discussion of why and how I got here.
If you are planning to use a starter, for Starter Mass enter the amount of starter you want to use and for Starter % the percentage of water (refer to Bread Math for explanation of baker’s percentage). If you aren’t planning to use starter, leave Starter Mass blank or enter 0. The final dough mass is the amount of bread you want to have; most loaves of bread I have seen seem to fall between 1 and 2 pounds. Dough % is the percentage of hydration of the final dough. This is where the fun comes in! Try playing with various amounts and see what a huge difference it makes on the crumb of your bread. Remember, there is no magic bread ratio but rather the ratio is the key to determining the kind of bread.
Example: Here’s my standard loaf of bread, and how I used these calculations to arrive at it. Because of the size of my oven and my household’s bread needs, I know I want to bake three 1.5# loaves of bread. This means I will need 4.5# of Final Dough Mass, which is 72 oz (16oz/lb * 4.5lb = 72 oz). I also make bread with a natural yeast starter. Whenever I refresh my starter, I add equal masses of water and flour, so I know my starter’s percentage is 100%. The Starter Mass I use varies depending on how much starter I have around, but I usually pick 8 oz. I have yet to determine the effects of drastic variations in starter use. With my Starter Mass, Starter % and Final Dough Mass decided, it’s just a matter of deciding on the Dough %. Although I continue to tweak this, I have had a lot of success with dough at 68% hydration, so I’ll enter that and hit calculate. The calculator tells me that my final dough will require 38.86 oz of flour and 25.14 oz of water. My scale’s smallest unit is 1/8 oz so we’ll call that 38 7/8 oz and 25 1/8 oz. So, in the kitchen, I measure my starter into the bowl, then cover it with 39 oz of flour and 25 oz of water. I also add salt. Salt can be factored into this calculation as a percentage of flour (bakers do this) but my scale is not accurate enough to measure this little salt so I always just wing it. I usually add about a Tablespoon to 4.5# of dough. With the salt added, you’re ready to mix, knead and otherwise proceed as normal.
Note that this form is unit agnostic, you can use grams or ounces or metric tons. Percentages should be in the 0-100 format, although you can go above 100%. Don’t type in any units or symbols, it will confuse the calculator!
Have fun! Bake bread!