My son (who is a professional brewer) has been using the excellent Beersmith shareware program to design and manage his recipes for brewing beer at home. It has some marvellous features for managing the complexity of ingredients, especially when trying to achieve a specific style of beer.
I always thought it would be great to have a similar program for baking bread, as the ingredients are similar (grain and yeast) even though the outcomes are different (bakers don't really care about retaining fermentation alcohol).
I had thought of managing recipes in a spreadsheet, as bread baking is mainly maintaining a target hydration based on weight of the ingredients. Also how to calculate other ingredients (like salt) as a percentage of flour weight should be fairly easy in a simple spreadsheet.
For fun I googled "bread baking calculator" and found an interesting program that has Beersmith-like features (not quite as advanced) called Tad's Baker's Calculator. And best of all, its free!
One of the great features of a calculator like this is the ability to scale the recipe based on a finished product weight, and get all of your ingredients lined up. For example, if you want to make four 340 g. baguettes, you have to figure in baking loss, then work backwards to figure out how much flour, water, salt (etc.) will be required to complete the recipe. This calculator allows you to put in your basic recipe, then scale it to whatever your needs are.
I'm running it through its paces with the included pizza dough recipe. If this works out OK, I will experiment with my own 3 stage preferment sourdough, to see if I can get better consistency.
Stay tuned for a full report!
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