Farming sourdough starters to bake excellent homemade bread


Baker’s Percentage explained

The bread recipe you saw online looks delicious and we’d like to make it. It has quite a few percentage numbers though, and we find them difficult to understand. Does this sound familiar? Most likely we are reading baker’s percentage numbers.

What is Baker’s Percent?

A bakers percent is a mathematical method widely used in baking to determine the ingredients necessary for a dough. It’s based on the total weight of flour a formula contains. Instead of dividing each ingredient’s weight by the total formula weight, bakers divide each ingredient by the weight of flour. Therefore flour is always 100%.

Why are Baker’s Percentages important?

Knowing baker’s percentages allows you to scale the final product to your desired size.  Some recipes would produce a 1.5kg loaf bread whereas others might produce a 500g loaf bread. For many of us, 1.5 Kg might be a lot of bread and 500g too little. With percentages you can just adjust the size of your final bread by increasing or reducing the amount of flour, fluid and starter, while keeping the same consistency of the formula.

Another reason why baker’s percentage are important is that allows refinenment and improvement. The percentage of starter used has an impact on the fermentation time, the higher the percentage the faster will increase the size of the dough. However this will also have an impact on the flavour. Slow fermentations add extra flavour to bread that is why your homemade bread will taste three times better than commercial bread. The percentage of fluid will have an impact on the kind crumb. Higher percentages will give more open crumb whereas lower percentages will give a more even crumb result. For sourdough breads you would likely prefer a higher percentage of fluid but this also complicates things a little bit. Working on high hydration dough is not an easy task, but you will learn along the way as you refine your formulas.


Bread calculator

Our recommendation is to use  a “bread calculator” to help us to create or modify recipes. There are a good number of tools out there that could be used but here is a simple one

All you will have to do is modify the amount of flour and fluid used until you obtain the desired final dough size. At the botton of the calculator your will see the final size andthe hydration assuming a 100% starter, this is when your stater has been fed with equal amounts of water and flour.

Most commonly percentages used in sourdough bread include 2% for salt and 20% for starter. Depeding on your taste you should increase or decrease the amount of salt.  The amount of starter can be adjusted depending on your ambient temperature. For instance, your might want to increase to 22% in the winter time, and reduce to 18% on the summer time. If you live in a warm country such as Spain or Italy, most likely you will need to reduce the percentage even further in the summer time as the fermentation can quickly gets out of control.


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The Sourdough Farm

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We are farmers of sourdough starters. We experiment with new and old sourdough starters from around the world. We show you the best recipes so you can enjoy them at home.

The Sourdough Farm

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