Excuse me -May I borrow a cup of experience?


Joined Jun 3, 2001
Hi everyone!
I’m now one step away from owning the bakery (see “Mind if I crash?” in Beginner’s Forum), and I have the old recipes in hand. But I’m seeking advise from you experienced bakers. I’d like to try out the large recipes on a smaller basis before I commit lots of materials, but I’m not sure how to scale them down. I think the yeast/flour/water ratios wouldn’t be a problem. But I’ve heard other things can’t be added/subtracted in equal percentages like baking soda and vanilla, etc. Does anyone have a list of rules or a conversion chart? None of these recipes are in baker’s percentage, but are a combination of weights and measures. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that in the near future I’ll need to scale even these recipes up ;)

I also have the opposite question: how can I increase my home recipes for bakery volume? I have the same dilemma about increasing the measure of salt, spices, leavening and flavorings, etc. According to Zachary Schat in The Baker's Trade, to scale a recipe up 10x and try to increase vanilla by the same percentage is “like adding tankards of it, and that’s all you taste.” :eek:

P.S. Anyone know the weight or measure of a “good handful of corn syrup?” I met the original baker years ago, and his hands were a lot bigger than mine.


[ July 22, 2001: Message edited by: CJ ]
Joined Feb 21, 2001
Wow. One step away from what? I would start by taking my home recipes and pretending to make them with the measuring cups and so on, weighing everything on a good electronic scale, writing it down, doing it ten times, and averaging to come up with a scalable formula. That seems like the easy part, even I've done that.
Everything in a formula based on percentages is tied to the weight of the flour. You're probably right that some ingredients can't be multiplied out, but knowing the percentage of an ingredient would be a starting point. 3% salt is still 3% salt no matter if you're making 10 loaves of bread or 100. You may have to commit to using some ingredients to finesse this part of your project. What kinds of products and in what quantities are we talking about here?
And with the corn syrup, the best thing is to weight it. Put plastic wrap on the scale scoop, pour in the corn syrup and just wrap it up. When you need to add it to a mix, hold it over the bowl and puncture it. Nothing to wash.
Just remember the two cheapest ingredients you can use are air and water.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
You will find formulas in Professional Baking, Trade, 3rd edition

Click here for more information.


and welcome to the Baker's club! :D

You might want to check Garde Manger : The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen. It's not a bread book but may be a great source of inspiration depending of what kind of items you wish to sell in your bakery. Great for large volumes. You might want to
click here for more or visit your book store.

There's also another thread in this very forum right here for thebighat's response

[ July 23, 2001: Message edited by: Kimmie ]


Joined Jun 3, 2001
Sorry, TBH, I should have been more informative; I’m in the process of buying a bakery. The SBA has approved the loan, provided I meet certain requirements. “One step away” just means that I’ve got one last requirement to meet, then the bank pays the current owners for the equipment & I have a new life. In this case, the last requirement is a contract being written up by the bank’s attorney for the landlord to sign, so I’m trying to make use of my waiting time. Until the bank pays out, I can’t get in to the shop. Hence scaling things down to try out at home.

Thank you so much for the tips! Do you think it would work on a regular balance scale as opposed to a digital? If so, I’ll probably wait until I get into the shop. If not, I might be able to measure things out, then take to a friend’s pizza shop to weigh. Sounds like it’s time to break out the ol’ math skills -that’ll be a good project to sink my teeth into during the wait. Thanks too for the idea to put the corn syrup in plastic. I was just concerned that being a short female (with proportionate hands), that my handfuls wouldn’t be equal to the baker’s who developed the recipes.

Zowie Kimmie! Thanks for the bakers’ club welcome! :D I’ve got a confession – with 4 people clamoring to use 1 computer, I’ve only had 10-15 min. online here or there. Not enough time to log on & write, but enough time to cruise & lurk. I just received “Professional Baking” thanks to your advice & site link. From other recommendations through ChefTalk I also ordered “Crust & Crumb,” “The Bread Builders,” “Artisan Baking,” and “Bread Alone.” Whew! Like a kid in a candy store – they’re all wonderful & I can’t make up my mind where to start. Had to cut myself off before I got “Garde Manager,” but it’s on my Amazon wish list in case anybody’s interested. After all, Christmas is only 4 months away…. Hint, hint. ;)

Well, I’m off to study – Thanks again!
Joined Feb 21, 2001
You could use a baker's balance, but I would clean it, oil it, and very carefully make sure that it is level with the tare weight on the right and the scoop on the left. I have to tape matchbooks under the right side of mine to level it.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
CJ I'm always the desenting vote.....unforunately I don't take the time other do to break down my recipes into weights and percentages (But ideally I should, and will when I do get the time they are totally correct in doing that), BUT, BUT the truth is you can do anything as is, if need be and it WILL WORK FINE!

For instance I take a recipes and mulitply them all the time with a calulator. Take a recipes for brownies that you like. If the orginal recipes bakes in a 9"x13" pan to bake it in a full sheet pan size you would multiply it 3 times (maybe 4x if you want a thicker brownie).

So you go like this:

original recipe..............x3

1 c. flour....................3 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar..................2 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla................1 tbsp. vanilla
12 oz. chocolate.............36 oz. chocolate


In time you can tweek recipes, but I promise you it will be EXTREMELY EXTREMELY rare that you'll ever have a failure or even notice anything needs adjustment if you do your math and proceedures correctly.

To scale down your recipes just divide the quanitiies. Unforunately you must have some experience to know what size pan you've now scaled down or up to so your product will bake correctly. The wrong pan size will do you in, not multiping using cup measurements.

To scale down you would do this:

regular recipe...............divided by 4

1 lb. flour.................4 oz. flour
28 oz. sugar................7 oz. sugar
25 oz. butter...............6.25 oz. butter

You don't have to use professional recipes to make great products. Use the best recipes you know of and scale them up and down according to your needs. There are many professional recipes that PALE in comparison to homemakers recipes.

Yes, get a great scale it's worth the investment! Yes, convert and simplify your recipes into weights and percentages! But don't be scared to try what you have first as is, scaling it up or down and then IF YOU LIKE THE RECIPE turn it into a usable professional recipe by converting it to weight. Otherwise you might be wasting your time working out recipes that you might not like.

You can always come here and ask for help.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
I do agree with you, W. A lot of my cookie and bar recipes were derived that way from regular cookbooks or even magazines. Except all my recipes are in percentages and weights, which help very much in spotting potentinal problems and differences if ever you are trying a new recipe and also help standardize a recipe if say you want a 10 sheets of brownies at 10#/sheet.
May good fortune await you, CJ, with your new bakery.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
O.k. I have to ask you a dumb question Angry....I understand how looking at a recipes percentages helps you intrepet it, but I don't understand how you work it literally?

You can't just pick a random number and scale out your percentages that way with-out having some major problems along the way, as far as I can figure??????

Could you give me a walk through of how you work a recipe that's written with percentages? Then when you scale up or down it's not the same simple math process, is it? If you get the chance could you show me how you scale up or down from percentage?

Last of all I don't understand how the percentages can total more then 100%? How can you have more than 100% of anything? Sorry, I suppose that sounds silly but I don't get percentages at all. :confused:


Joined Apr 4, 2000
The mystery of baker's percentage.

The flour is always 100%, if you use two kind of flour, their total weight is 100%. Baker’s percentage express the amount of each ingredient used as a percentage of the amount of flour used.

The percentage of each ingredients is its total weight divided by the weight of the flour, multiplied by 100% or:

This is used to express ingredient proportions so the total will always be greater then 100%.

Total weight of ingredient
_____________________ X 100% = % of ingredient
Total weight of flour

A recipe calls for 20% sugar and you are using 10 pounds of flour.


10lb X .20= 2lb sugar

Determine 50% of 1 LB 8 oz.

1 LB 8 oz. = 24 oz.
.50 x 24oz = 12 oz

A recipe calls for 20% sugar and you are using 5kg of flour or 5 000 gr. How much sugar will you need?

20% = .20
5000g x .20 = 1000 g sugar

This method can be used only when the flour is a major ingredient as in bread, cakes and cookies. To use it with other recipe you will have to select a major ingredient other than flour.

In the case of a Frangipane, the total weight of the almond paste will be 100%. Sugar which is use in the same amount will also be 100%. The recipe would read as follow:

Almond paste 100%
Sugar 100%
Butter 50%
Flour 25%
Egg 25%

Now let’s say you want to change the number of serving a recipe yield

1 - Change the total percentage to decimal by moving a decimal point two places to the left.

2 - Divide the desired yield by this decimal to get the weight of flour needed

3 - If necessary, round off this number to the next highest figure. This will allow for lost in mixing, makeup and panning and it will make calculation easier.

4 - Use the weight of flour and remaining ingredients percentage to calculate the weights of the other ingredients.

In the following cake recipe, how much flour is needed if you require 6 pounds or 3 000 grams of cake batter?

Cake flour 5lb 2 500g 100%
Sugar 5lb 2500g 100%
Baking powder 4 oz 125g 5%
Salt 2oz 63g 2.5%
Emulsified shortening 2lb 8oz 1250g 50%
Skim milk 3lb 1 500g 60%
Egg whites 3lb 1 500g 60%
Total 18lb 14oz 9438g 377.5 %

3777.5% = 3.775
6lb = 96oz
96oz/3.775 = 25.43oz or rounded off 26oz, 1lb 10oz
3000g/3.775 = 794.7g or rounded off 800g

The information is from Professional Baking.

[ August 11, 2001: Message edited by: Iza ]
Joined Jan 15, 2001
Thanks Iza! Saved me tons of typing!
W., I know you just got Pro. Baking. That's exactly how I learned how to do this. For example; the brownie recipe that I use I came across a Chocolatier magazine. It was a recipe for an 8x8 pan and I always bake in full sheets. I also have to cost out the recipe, so the first step(after trying out a small batch) is to change to weights. Then percentages if the recipe is a baked good(just like Iza said; breads,cakes, cookies, bars,etc.)I just do this automatically even though sometimes I may never use this info.(depending on the recipe)For the brownie recipe, I use the percentages to arrive at a new yield. Like from experience I know that my brownie sheets weigh about 10# per full sheet, so from there I do the math with the little recipe and arrive at a formula that is quantified for a full sheet. I could have also multiplied the 8"pan recipe by 6 times or 8 times depending on how high I wanted the brownies, but it just seems easier to me doing it the other way. Hope I'm not confusing you. :confused:


Joined Apr 4, 2000
And we all wondered in school why we had to learn all this useless stuff. Now we know maths are useful. ;)
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Wow, I haven't slept much lately but I followed you on the almond paste example totally, but then I can't begin to tell you the answer to your last question. I'll have to re read another day when I can focus. I'm sorry I did get professional baking but I haven't really really looked at it yet. At the end of my current job I wasn't cracking any books....

I'm thinking I should get this down pat and do some work in my file while I'm off.

So in general the last example aza wrote where your wrote out the weight in lbs., grams and percentages per ingredient is how you write out your recipes? Hum...makes sense, invloves more work up front though but I see the need. I haven't ever seen anyone list all three in any of the probooks (actually I never seen anyone pubishing in percentages). Why do you think that is?

Now I'll have to learn my weights of items (like 10 lbs is average for a sheet pan of brownies). I've needed that knowledge when working thru Hermes and other pro books because they don't list yeild. Is there any reference where I could get a head start to learning average yeild weights of standard bakery items? I bet your going to tell me to open that new book up.....?

P.S. Thanks for helping me, I don't totally grasp this so I hope you'll teach me more?


Joined Apr 4, 2000

In Professional Baking all the recipes, or formulas as he calls them, are given in ounces, grams and baker’s percentages. Angrychef mentioned that you have this book, check out pages 10-11. Artisan Baking also has good explanations on this topic and the recipes are given in volume weight and baker’s percentage.

At first I found it hard to understand the logic of it when I read the text. Doing the math is how I finally understood it. To start with use a recipe for which you have the weight in grams/kilo. It’s a lot easier to work with.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
My recipe format consists of a minimum of 3 columns(ingredients, recipe in weights, percentages) and sometimes goes up to 6 columns(ingredients, base recipe,base recipe x2, x4, %). It would be a good practice to write the recipe in grams/kilos, but I don't do it since our kitchen deals with pounds and ounces.
About the average yield weights, I only knew about the brownies through trial and error(and the deadline for recipe costing). I think in Pro. Baking there is a page that lists suggested weights for hi-ratio and sponge cakes, sheetcakes, etc.
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