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Feb 11, 2007 09:17 AM

Does this exist? A scale that reads in Baker's Percentages...

I am relatively new to baking, and have so far gotten by just using volumetric measurements. It's worked so far, but perhaps more due to not baking often enough where I may notice slight differences between the balance of ingredients, and that I keep things fairly simple. (All my baking sofar is directed towards making rustic thin-crust pizzas...)

But having read Peter Reinhart's books wherein he introduces baker's percentages, it immediately appealed to me fo it's conceptual ease by which a recipe can be both documented as well as executed. It's a simple matter of soime mental or calculator math to convert baker's percentages into actual quantities one may use.

However it occurred to me that it could be made even easier if scales had in addition to a "tare" funciton, they also posessed a "100% BP (baker's percentage)" button. The conventional "metric/English units" button would be replaced by a "metric/English/Baker's Percent" button.

Think of how easy it would be to use. One first just starts with their "100%" ingredient, which would be the flour in Reinhart's recipes, and press the "100% BP" button. The use of this button should automatically shift the "metric/English/Baker's Percent" mode to a "Baker's Percent" mode and the readout will read 100%.

(How the user portions out this initial "100%" ingredient can either be by "feel" or alternatively by weight. Either way there is no awkwardness by not using a round numbered weight as all the calculations would be done by the scale to measure out the baker's percentage of the other ingredients.)

The tare function will work the same as before, so one can immedidately tare-out the read-out to measure the other ingredients directly in baker's percent.

I was convinced that such a scale should be readily available, but was not able to find any. Am I looking in the wrong places or am I missing a key search term? As a programmer, I know that this is a very easy function to implement, and useable by anyone who fully understands baker's percentages.

The nice part of such a feature is that one does not need to feel compelled to use a "round weight" for their 100% ingredient, encouraging a very casual, wing-it kind of approach, while alternately supporting a more measured approach as well. One always can read-out in baker's percentages and read direct from the recipe without any calculation in between.

Where can I find such a scale?

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  1. While not perfect, would the iweigh work for your purposes?

    3 Replies
    1. Thanks! That's a pretty good all-around scale at a good price.

      Well it's too late for me, but perhaps this information can help someone else.

      (I use the counting function on my scale to "count" fractional baker's percentages...)

        1. re: cgfan

          Yep and for $6.00 more you can get the scale that weighs in percentages

          (and it counts)

      1. hilltowner: Thanks for the info. Unfortunately it doesn't quite do what I need. The item counter feature of the iBalance 5000 conceptually comes close to Baker's Percentages, but still not close enough. (To measure in Baker's Percentages would be the equivalent of having an item counter that has a readout in fractional items, preferably in fractions of a percent.)

        Now perhaps a user hack can make it work, by placing the 100% ingredient on the scale and setting the count to, say, 10000. This would be the equivalent to setting the display units to a 0.01% Baker's Percent scale. So for instance, a reading of 127 indicates 1.27% in Baker's Percent. (The ease which this can be done wouild now become important, as one wouldn't want to increment 1 by 1 all the way to 10000...)

        Hmmmmm, perhaps this could work quite well afterall... It's definitely gotten me to think of other alternatives with regards to the feature set to look for!

        Thanks hilltowner!

        1. cgfan, I have seen JS versions of this:

          Never seen an actual scale though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pablo

            Thanks for the link, Pablo!

            I'm beginning to think that such a scale is not available. Right now I'm assuming that the answer would be found in a siutably featured counting scale per the ideas in my previous post. If I could find a reasonable one that can be trained on a batch count of 10,000, then that will get me readouts in units of 0.01% in Baker's Percent. Though from the look of it, these counting scales are not cheap!

            1. re: cgfan

              Just recently renewed my search for a scale, and I'm leaning towards a counting scale approach. However the ones with a reasonably useful range (1.2 kg x 0.1 g = 2.65 lbs x 0.0035 oz.) are calibrated in counts of 100, and tops out at "weighing" 5000 counts.

              So here's my idea right now in order to obtain the 0.01% baker's percent resolution. If I weigh out a 1% portion of my total flour weight on such a scale, then I can "train" it for 100 counts. Thereafter while in counting mode it should "count out" units of 0.01% at a time, in Baker's Percentages. Thus a reading of "11" would be the equivalent of reading out 0.11% Baker's Percent.

              This would limit the max. Baker's Percent reading to "5000 counts", or 50%, which should handle most breads except for some pre-ferments and/or some very "eggy" doughs. (And in any case any recipe which calls for more than a 50% Baker's Percent can be split-up into two separate weighings.

              For the many times that a 0.1% Baker's Percentage would do, then weighing out a 10% total flour weight and calibrating it to 100 counts would obtain a reading of 0.1% Baker's Percent per count, with a maximum of 5000 counts or 500% Baker's Percent. In fact this may be the most useful mode for most needs, as it will also cover pre-ferments and very "eggy" doughs where the liquid ingredients sometimes exceeds or at least is a substantial percentage of the flour weight.

          2. The thing with the Baker's % is that you can adjust it to your needs and the different breads you want to make. i.e. the percentage of eggs will vary from bread/dough to each other.

            Although it does sounds like a good idea, it takes away from making a variety of breads if people just stick to one basic %.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cheftamara

              Actually learning and using baker's percentages increases the flexibility of dough formulas. However, for mathematically impaired persons such as me, it's a bit tricky to work with. The best thing you can do is work in metric weights, never in volumes nor English measurements. Then baker's percent becomes relatively easy.
              Where it gets tricky is when you use sponges, starters or levains, and are trying to maintain a specific hydration, based on total flour weight.
              (Don't ask me how, please; and I took a course in this.)

            2. I stumbled upon your question and while i won't check back here too often i believe that the scale you are looking for is an ohaus, ( ). their EB series has a function key that allows you to work in bakers percentages. I hope that this helps (even if it is late October to February) =:)

              4 Replies
              1. re: chef instructor

                Also - for the original poster. For home baking (like I do) baker's percent is critically important for flour and water proportions and you can be looser with others. For example my usual home bread uses 500 g flour. I weigh the water depending on what I want and if I have some added ingredients I'll weigh them. I've found that 1 tsp salt is just right for my taste and 1/4 tsp yeast gives me a long - all day 1st fermentation (rise). no need to get fancier. I will generally use 360-370 gms H2O for most white breads.

                1. re: stpaulbreadman

                  Sorry for the late reply, but for some reason recent posts on this thread does not seem to trickle it up to the top of the "My Posts" view. (Anyone else noticed this same behavior?)

                  In any case, here's are some pictures of the scale that I ended up with, an I-Weigh i2600, which can measure as accurately as 1 part in 2600, (though like most things in life, this is the theoretical maximum...). This sequence shows how I'm using the counting mode to do Baker's Percent, in this particular case in the feeding of a sourdough culture...

                  1) Weigh out the original culture -
                  2) Set this to 100 units in counting mode to give 1% increments; likewise 1000 units would yield 0.1% increments -
                  3) Tare, and add 50 units of flour, then 50 units of water -

                  Although this simple example of feeding a culture certainly does not need much precision nor the extra steps of using the counting mode, it certainly becomes more useful when applied towards the measuring of ingredients for bread. And if desired, more precision can be had by establishing a 1000 count reference on a sample, say, of 1/10th of the reference volume. This would result in each unit representing 1/10,000, or 0.01%.

                  1. re: cgfan

                    Sorry cgfan, but you cannot trick a scale into being more precise or accurate by changing the units. Accuracy and capacity are built into the unit. The accuracy of the i2600 is 0.1 gram (or however many ounces that is), not 1 part in 2600, and not 0.01% (which would mean accuracy depends on how heavy the item you are weighing is). 2600 refers to that scale's capacity in grams. For that particular scale, if you specify 1000 units and weigh less than 100 grams of culture in counting mode, the scale will always give you a number for subsequent weights, but it will round off the count based on 0.1 g (because that is as fine as it can measure), and you won't know if it's rounding up or down.

                    I don't mean to be rude, but I must confess I find your desire to measure baking ingredients with such precision a little strange. All of the ingredients used in baking are natural grown products -- freshness and growing conditions will have way more effect than 0.01% effect on the quality of the end product.

                    I use an i5000 and 1 g precision is just fine by me. The only thing I can imagine measuring with greater precision is yeast for a really long rise. Yeast is water soluble, so do what they do in chemistry labs. Dissolve 1 g yeast in 100g of water. Your flour is 500 grams and you want 0.01% yeast? Tare the scale and put in 5 grams of the solution, then add more water until you have the baker's percentage your recipe calls for.

                    And they said I'd never use all that math I learned in college.

                    1. re: Zeldog

                      Zeldog, thank you for your response, but I suspect you might be in danger of jumping ahead about what I believe regarding the accuracy of the i2600. It may not seem so, but I do believe we are in synch with what the i2600 can or cannot do.

                      Yes, as I stated in my post, the i2600 is accurate to 1 part in 26000. That is because it uses a 26000 division load cell. Of course this accuracy claim only applies if the total amount one is weighing is 2600 grams. Anything more and it is beyond its capacity, and anything less delivers the user less than a 1 part in 26000 accuracy.

                      When I made my post I didn't want to weigh it down (pun intended) with parentheticals and footnotes, though I did allow myself the following in my post above:

                      "(though like most things in life, this is the theoretical maximum"

                      It was precisely your point that I was making, though to most such details would usually start eyes rolling.

                      Regarding your point about this amount of precision not being needed, that was precisely my point as well in my post above when I say:

                      :Although this simple example of feeding a culture certainly does not need much precision nor the extra steps of using the counting mode"

                      I then say in my post where I believe this is useful:

                      "it certainly becomes more useful when applied towards the measuring of ingredients for bread"

                      The precision becomes necessary when in particular it comes to the dry ingredients (salt, yeast, etc.). These are always in miniscule amounts relative to the flour or water weight.

                      And even if by using the above methods a 0.01% quantity ends up being less than 0.1 grams, the resolution of the scale, the inherent lack of resolution in the scale to measure anything less than 0.1 grams will be painfully obvious by the way in which the 0.01% units (Baker's Percent, now in counts on the scale), behaves by not incrementing by 1's but rather by some minimal increment >1.

                      This still does not remove it's usefulness as I am not saying to use this method to actually measure, say, a 0.01% Baker's Percent quantity. Rather the end user, myself in this case, should make sure that the amount actually being weighed are many multiples of the smallest apparent jump in counts when in counting mode.

                      And by no means am I imagining that the minor ingredients can be weighed out to a similar precision as that of the minor ingredient to the bulk ingredients. In fact the actual precision in weighing out these minority ingredients is far, far less.

                      For instance if in the example proposed in my post above the scale jumps by 4 counts minimally, and one needs to weight out, say, 0.24 Baker's Percent, this would imply a desired count of 24. This would mean that in terms of this minor ingredient it is being weighed with a precision of only 1 part in 6.

                      In the end, no, the i2600 cannot do any black magic, and my "counting mode hack" does not change the underlying limits of the unit itself in that it can only masure up to 2600 grams, with a precision of 0.1 grams. I am well aware that if one did the conventional math with the Baker's Percent and resulted in a gram weight of a minor ingredient, that the situation would be identical. That is, there will be no magic increase (or loss) of precision.

                      The point of my post, however, was to be able to use these scales in a way that somewhat directly reads out in units related to Baker's Percent, even in cases where the recipe has Baker's Percent units down to the 0.01% Baker's Percent. Simply choose the method you prefer; but now your scale has a Baker's Percent capability even though it was not a native feature of your scale.

                      In essence this hack allows one to use the i2600 as if it had in software a Baker's Percent mode.