Baker’s percentage and pizza dough

Ooni Fyra

What is baker’s percentage?

Baker’s percentage, or baker’s percent, is a method of measuring the quantity of ingredients in a dough, relative to the amount of flour in the dough.

I know this sounds confusing but bear with me, it’s not too bad really.

Baker's percent and flour
All dough starts with flour!

All the ingredients are measured as a percentage of the total flour. This is done because the flour is the most important and most abundant ingredient in dough. Other ingredients vary but the flour is always there in relatively large amounts.

Why use baker’s percentage for pizza dough?

The beauty is that once you have a baker’s percentage recipe, it instantly scales up or down to whatever amount of dough you want to make.

What’s more, understanding baker’s percentage will allow you to recognise the dough characteristics of any recipe before you even make it. You will also be able to form your own recipes and adjust quantities with ease.

Baker’s percentage and hydration

You may have heard the term hydration used when referring to pizza dough. The hydration is basically the amount of water that is used in a dough recipe. It is always expressed as a baker’s percentage.

Water is a key part of the baker's percentages
Hydration is typically expressed as a baker’s percentage

The hydration is generally the most important part of any recipe. Learning baker’s percentage will drastically improve your understanding of hydration and dough.

For more information on pizza dough hydration, click here.

Baker’s percentage and salt

The amount of salt in pretty much any bread dough will always be around 2-3%. Understanding baker’s percentage allows you to instantly get the correct amount of salt you should use in any pizza recipe (or bread recipe).

Salt is generally 2% as a baker's percentage
Salt in any dough is typically around 2%

Some recipes will call for more or less salt than this but personally, I never stray from between 2 – 2.5%. Any less than 2% and the pizza becomes bland. Any more than 2.5% and the pizza becomes salty (and the quality of the dough is affected).

I would be wary of any pizza recipe that is outside the 2% – 2.5% salt range.

Baker’s percentage and yeast

The amount of yeast we use will directly impact the length of fermentation (proving time). For example, 2% yeast (dried yeast) will prove roughly twice as quickly as 1% yeast. Understanding this allows us to adjust the yeast depending on our desired length of fermentation.

Yeast is generally best expressed as baker's percent
Small amounts of yeast make a huge difference

Generally, lower amounts of yeast produce a better dough. A longer fermentation improves the flavour and texture of the pizza crust.

However, using baker’s percentage for yeast allows to estimate and adjust the fermentation time in order to fit the dough making around our daily routine.

How does baker’s percentage work?

Let’s assume that we’re using 500g of flour in our recipe. We’re making traditional Neapolitan (Italian) pizza dough so there’s only 4 ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. (Yes that’s right! No oil, sugar, or milk, or anything else.)

This is the recipe that we have (with each ingredient expressed as a baker’s percentage):

– 100% 00 flour
– 60% water
– 2% salt
– 1% yeast

(The quantities add up to more than 100% because we are comparing them to the weight of flour not the overall weight of dough)

This is a fairly typical recipe so let’s see how it works with our 500g of flour:

– 100% of 500g = 500g flour
– 60% of 500g = 300g water
– 2% of 500g = 10g salt
– 1% of 500g = 5g yeast

(In case you’re unsure, I’ll come back to how to calculate these percentages later.)

So now we have our ingredients in grams. Pretty straight forward, right?

Mixing from baker's percentages
Let’s get mixing!

Now we can just put a bowl on our scales, tare the scales, and add the ingredients.

Why does the recipe include 100% flour?

You may be asking “why is 100% flour included in the recipe? Of course, 100% of the flour is 100%!”.

This may seem confusing, but it is useful to include in a recipe because it tells us the type of flour the recipe requires.

Also, some recipes call for a combination of different flours. Often, semolina flour is also added to pizza dough as well as 00 flour.

This is a little more advanced, so we’ll leave that for now. However, because the ideal hydration (amount of water) will vary between types of flour, it’s still useful to include the type of flour the recipe uses.

In this recipe we’re using 00 flour, which is generally the best type of flour for Neoplitan style pizzas.

How do you calculate the percentages?

If you’re not friendly with mathematics, then the easiest way is to use the % button on your calculator or smart phone like this:

For 60% of 500 you would type 60%500

Calculating baker's percentages

This should equal 300

Alternatively, for those of you that are more mathematically minded, you can do 0.6 x 500

Calculating baker's percentage

For 2% of 500 you would type 2%500

Calculating baker's percent

This should equal 10

If you’re using the other method, this would be 0.02 x 500 (don’t forget the extra 0 after the decimal – 0.2 x 500 would give us 20% not 2%!)

Calculating the baker's percentages

Use whichever method works best for you.

The best method for making exactly the right amount of dough for your pizzas

Rather than guessing the quantities before making several pizzas, I use this method which guarantees the perfect amount of dough. It also produces no waste at all.

It does take a bit of maths though so bear with me. If you don’t like the maths then feel free to skip over this bit, it’s not necessary. I’ll be bringing out recipes and guides for various pizza sizes and quantities in the near future.

Get your calculator/smart phone ready and here goes:

Let’s say we want to make 4 pizzas, each weighing 180g. The total amount of dough we need is:

180 x 4 = 720g of dough

Working backwards from this figure, we can now use the bakers percentages from the recipe we used earlier to calculate how much flour, water, salt, and yeast we need.

To get the amount of flour we need we can do the following calculation:

720/1.60 = 450g flour

Calculating total dough using baker's percentages

The 1.60 refers to our 60% hydration. If we’re using 58% hydration we would use 1.58.

Now we have our flour, we can simply follow the recipe in the same way we did earlier:

100% of 450g = 450g 00 flour
60% of 450g = 270g of water
2% of 450g = 9g of salt
1% of 450g = 4.5g of yeast

To quickly check that you’ve done it correctly you can add the flour and water together which should equal the initial dough weight that we were shooting for:

450g + 270g = 720g

Perfect!

The Eagle eyed amongst you will be saying “ah, but we’ve actually got more dough than we need because we didn’t allow for the salt and yeast”. Whilst this is true, the amounts are so small that it isn’t worth calculating and some dough is always lost in mixing anyway.

I love this method, it allows you to quickly calculate the quantities for any number of pizzas of any size.

Pizza App for baker’s percentage and hydration

There’s an app that I have found incredibly useful for calculating recipes. It’s called PizzApp+ and I’ve provided the links for it below:

For Android: PizzApp+ on Google Play Store

For iOS (Apple): PizzApp+ on the App Store

Using this app, you will never have to actually calculate the recipes yourself. It really is a great app! However, I still think it’s important that you understand baker’s percentage. This way you will know what to change each time you tweak the recipe.

A quick mention

I have to quickly mention weekendbakery.com which has a great article on poolish here.

Weekend Bakery is not a pizza website, it’s really about bread and cakes. However, some of the articles are great, especially the poolish article.

I actually learnt a lot of what I know about poolish from that article. I actually used to make bread before I started making pizza . And I started experimenting with poolish after reading their article. So thanks Weekend Bakery!

Final thoughts on baker’s percentage and pizza dough…

Hopefully, now you have a grasp of baker’s percentage, or baker’s percent. It will probably take a little while to get your head around it but once you do, everything will fit into place.

Before I understood baker’s percentages, every recipe seemed like magic. I had no idea why the quantities were how they were. I yo-yoed from recipe to recipe, never really understanding why each dough turned out differently.

Once you understand baker’s percent, every recipe will make sense. You will be able to predict dough characteristics from the recipe alone, and spot inconsistencies in recipes. What’s more, you will be able to write your own recipes and adjust recipes to suit yourself.

A perfect pizza, made by a baker's percentage recipe
The perfect pizza is that much closer!

As well adjusting recipes to your taste, you will be able to tweak them for the type of flour you are using, the length of fermentation you want, and the oven you are using.

Trust me, learning baker’s percentage will transform your pizza making game!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a portable pizza oven made by Ooni.

Feel free to click here to check out the Ooni US Site or click here to check out the Ooni UK Site.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

Pizza cooked in Ooni pizza oven

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

Comments
  1. Avatar for MIKE LITTWIN MIKE LITTWIN says:

    No sugar for the yeast to eat ??
    Is this to leven more slowly?

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Mike

      Yes that’s correct. Sugar would speed up the leavening (proving) process and result in a sweeter dough. Neapolitan dough should only have a hint of sweetness to it from the natural sugars. And it should have a hint of sourness from the long fermentation.

      In addition, adding sugar will brown the crust more when cooking. If you are using a very low powered oven this could help. But for Neapolitan pizza, cooked at very high temperature, the introduction of sugar would likely lead to burning.

      Thanks for the comment

  2. Avatar for Douglas Gourlay Douglas Gourlay says:

    The information about Baker’s Percentages is invaluable!

    Thanks for sharing this. In keeping with my wife’s request for thin crust pizza, I’m going to limit the second proofing.

    I suspect that this will make pizza dough and bread dough’s in general, much easier, and with much more logic to it!

    Thanks again,
    Doug

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Thank you Doug! It can seem very confusing but once you get your head around it you will be able to adjust any recipe to your liking.

      And yes, it will help with all types of bread dough!

      I’ll look into doing a recipe for thin crust pizza. I would recommend using a rolling pin rather than limiting the proofing. This way you should still be able to retain some nice texture in the dough.

      Good luck!

  3. Avatar for Meg Meg says:

    Why is it impossible to get the recipe in cups or teaspoons?

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Meg. Cups and teaspoons are a very inaccurate way of measuring ingredients. Cups and teaspoons all vary in size, as well as how much you fill them. Usually they are fine for normal cooking but when it comes to baking, tiny discrepancies in ingredients lead to huge differences in outcomes.

      When it comes to pizza dough, a 4% difference in hydration, for example, is huge. It’s the difference between a dry dough and a wet dough. When making 2 pizzas, 4% equates to about 10g of water. Unless your ingredients are weighed, obtaining an accuracy within 10g is actually almost impossible to achieve.

      In addition, when weighing out yeast, quantities of as little as 0.4g are required for a long prove. This accuracy is just not possible to achieve in teaspoons. Even a good guess could be out by 100% or more.

      Until you have made hundreds of pizzas, I recommend that everyone weighs their ingredients with digital scales to be as accurate as possible. This will get you the best results in the shortest amount of time. If you make a good dough, you will be able to replicate it exactly next time. If you make a bad batch, you will know what to change for next time.

      I highly recommend giving grams a go! It’s super easy!

  4. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    SO how would you calculate the percentage of Poolish in this calculation? If guess if I used all the water in the poolish with the same amount of dough, I wouldnt have any water to add, once the poolish proved?

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Mike, you could use all the water in the poolish but then it technically wouldn’t be a poolish as a poolish is 50% water and 50% flour. Also, you would still need to add the remaining flour. So I think it’s just as easy to add the water and flour together once the poolish has proved.

      The percentage of poolish is calculated by comparing the weight of flour in the poolish to the weight of flour in the final dough. Typically, 50% of total flour in poolish is a good amount. For example, if your recipe calls for 600g flour total, your poolish would be 300g flour (50% of total flour) and 300g water (100% poolish hydration). Once this has proved you would then subtract the water and flour in your poolish (300g & 300g) from the final recipe in order to determine the weight of additional ingredients.

      I hope this makes sense. I assume you’ve check out my poolish article here?

      Cheers

  5. Avatar for Ann Brown Ann Brown says:

    Hey Tom-
    We just got an Ooni and we are still learning but we seem to struggle to get the bottom crust crispy and the edges not burned. We can do great edges but then the bottom isn’t crispy enough. Tips?

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Ann, the Oonis are really designed to make Neapolitan style pizzas which don’t have a crispy base, it should be soft. It sounds like you’re doing well but just need to remove the pizza before the crusts burn.

      If you want to try more of a NY style pizza with a crispy base, you could try cooking at a lower temperature, for much longer. I haven’t really tried this with the Ooni to be honest but I probably will do at some point. I would recommend trying a temperature of around 300C/570F and see how you get on. I have made pizzas in my regular oven at a similar temperature (260C/500F) and they’ve turned out great, much crispier base.

      Good luck!

  6. Avatar for Gizem Gizem says:

    Hi Tom!

    How much time you leave the dough for proof for this recepie?
    The article was the best!

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Gizem. I recommend you check out my pizza school series here. There, I provide a detailed recipe including prove time and a video showing every step. The first part is on the mixing and then the following parts go into kneading and shaping.

      Good luck!

  7. Avatar for Stephen Cochran Stephen Cochran says:

    What about if using a sourdough starter? How will that change percentages?

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Stephen, good question but it’s complicated! I’m planning on doing a series on sourdough in the future so stay tuned for that.

      In general, the amount of starter you use is measured as a ratio of the flour in the starter to the total flour in the recipe. So if your recipe calls for 500g flour, a 20% starter would be 100g flour, 100g water.

      The percentage you choose will depend on many factors, including how active your starter is and how long you want to prove for.

      When calculating the final percentages, you will have to take into account the flour and water that is in your starter.

      I hope this helps a little but there’s only so much I can do without going into a lot of detail.

      Good luck with it!

  8. Avatar for Georgia Georgia says:

    Hello! For the percentage of yeast, do you resort to fresh or dry yeast? And how can we calculate grams? For example, do we have dry yeast or the corresponding fresh yeast?

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Georgia, good question. I tend to use dried yeast since it’s easier to get hold of and lasts longer. I do enjoy the flavour of fresh yeast more though. Feel free to check out my article on dried vs fresh yeast here.

      For converting quantities, you typically need to use twice as much fresh yeast as dried yeast. So if a recipe calls for 1g of dried yeast, you’ll need 2g of fresh yeast. And vice versa.

      Hope that answers your question. Good luck!

  9. Avatar for Bert Bert says:

    Hi Tom thanks for your excellent article and explanation for the bakers percent in laymen terms. What are your thoughts on freezing the fermented dough for re-use later? I use the Bakerstone gas pizza oven with excellent results. Regards from New Zealand

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Bert, no problem at all! I don’t freeze my dough personally as I like to make it fresh, though I think it should be fine.

      If I have some dough left over I tend to re-ball it and store it in the fridge for the next day. But feel free to experiment with freezing and let me know how you get on!

      Good luck!

  10. Avatar for Ben Black Ben Black says:

    Hi! I just downloaded the pizzapp and. I’m curious how I determine my poolish ingredient amounts? Maybe it was explained, but I guess I’m still a little confused! Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Ben, to be honest I haven’t used the pizzApp for poolish. With poolish I find it best to just use instinct. After making poolish many times, you’ll get good at knowing how to use it.

      If you haven’t already, check out my article on poolish here. That should help to get you started, there are some good rules of thumb you can use that are discussed in the article. Good luck!

  11. Avatar for Dennis Dennis says:

    Great article Tom, thanks.

    Question; so if I’m using poolish, I would deduct the weight of the poolish (50/50 flour/water) from the recipe weight percentages, then just add the difference once the poolish is ready? Thank you sir!

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Dennis, yes that’s basically correct. You have to include the water and flour in the poolish in the total ingredients to calculate the overall hydration. It is a bit tricky but gets easier with practice.

      If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my article on poolish here. Thanks Dennis!

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