Baker's percentage is one of the most powerful tools bakers have in their arsenal to help them understand how dough works.
In bakers percentages all the flour in a formula, or recipe, is arbitrarily defined as being 100%, and all the other ingredients are expressed as a percentage of that.
For example, if there are 1,000 grams of flour in a batch of bread and 650 grams of water, we say there is 100% flour and 65% water.
This immediately seems wrong to many people as, by usual usage, 100% is everything. All of it. And we haven't looked at the salt, riser and other ingredients yet.
Perhaps it should have been called baker's ratios. Still, it is what it is. There are two points worth making here.
- The percentage of water and oils are referred to as "dough hydration", which bakers pay a lot of attention to. German bakers refer to the amount of water as "dough yield" and their texts make it plain that "dough yield" is where their profit margin lies. Water is, after all, cheaper than flour.
- For most breads in the United States, the percentage of salt is about 2%. If you use much more, the salt taste is too obvious. If you use much less and the bread will be too bland for most tastes and yeast will tend to over rise. Some countries are more concerned with sodium in the diet and the customary amounts of salt range from 1 to 1.4%