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Bakers percentage/hydration
simple percentage
volumetric equivalence chart

Many beginning bakers, and more than a few experienced ones, are confused as they read different cookbooks. Some talk about bakers percentage or hydration, some talk about percent water and flour, and others just tell you how many cups to measure.

Most commercial bakers use the bakers percentage or percent hydration. Simply stated, the bakers percentage assumes that flour represents 100%, and the water in the dough is a percentage of that number. Or, if you have 100 pounds of flour, and put in 60 pounds of water, you have 60% hydration. If you have 10 grams of flour, put in 6 grams of water, and you have 60% hydration.

The beauty of this is how well it scales, and how universal it is. If someone tells you to use 70% hydration, you can do that whether you are measuring in US Standard measurements, Imperial measurements, or metric. It works in ounces as well as pounds, in grams as well as kilograms.

Some books, notably Ed Wood's books, use a percentage flour and water. So, 100% hydration would be 50% flour and 50% water. It's not a hard system either, but if you are exposed to both, converting between them, or keeping things straight in your mind can be a little daunting to the math impaired.

The final wrinkle is those people who measure by volume instead of by weight. We talk about how to measure solids elsewhere. One issue is that a cup of flour is not a constant amount by weight. So, if you want to create a recipe that has 70% hydration, or is 59% flour and 41% water, you may not be sure how many cups that is. In the end, it's not that important, as most home bakers have trouble keeping the rest of their process consistent enough for it to matter whether you are at 65 or 75% hydration. What's important is how the bread comes out, and with experience you can tell that by the feel of the dough.

Still, feeling some people might like a cross reference chart, we created the chart below. It assumes that cup of water is 8 ounces by weight, and that a cup of flour is 5 ounces by weight. We played with the number of cups of flour so that the cups of water would be a reasonable measurement.

We hope you find the chart helpful.

Baker's Percentage/ Hydration Percent
Flour
Percent
water
Cups
Flour
Cups
Water
140% 42% 58% 2 1.75
135% 43% 57% 8 6.75
130% 43% 57% 4 3.25
125% 44% 56% 8 6.25
120% 45% 55% 3 2.25
115% 47% 53% 8 5.75
110% 48% 52% 4 2.75
105% 49% 51% 8 5.25
100% 50% 50% 4 2.50
95% 51% 49% 8 4.75
90% 53% 47% 4 2.25
85% 54% 46% 8 4.25
80% 56% 44% 1 0.50
75% 57% 43% 8 3.75
70% 59% 41% 4 1.75
65% 61% 39% 8 3.25
60% 63% 38% 4 1.50
55% 65% 35% 8 2.75
50% 67% 33% 4 1.25
45% 69% 31% 8 2.25
40% 71% 29% 4 1.00