After a lot of reflection I've decided to put all my formulas (bakery slang for recipes) up on the website. I think many parts of the food industry benefit from the obfuscation of what goes into food, not because they're afraid of someone copying their product, but because they're afraid that the consumer might lose their appetite. I want to distinguish myself from that kind of system. I think my customers are the kind of people who appreciate knowing more about what they're eating.
You might be concerned that revealing my formulas will be detrimental to my business, but the truth is that the formulas are only a small part of making good bread. The magic really happens in the process; in the fermentation, in the care and attention that I give each loaf, in my refusal to compromise quality for convenience. Good bread isn't just about good ingredients, it's also about the way those ingredients are transformed. These sorts of loaves are demanding to make. I'm not worried about finding knock-offs down at the Safeway anytime soon.
Before I can present you with my formulas I have to give you the tools to understanding them. Essentially all bakers use a kind of short hand called the baker's percentage. This method of recording and scaling recipes is based on mass, not volume (time to start thinking in grams and kilos, let those measuring spoons and cups get dusty). Measuring ingredients in mass is faster, far more accurate, makes it easier to change batch sizes, and it gives the baker tremendous insight into a dough at a single glance. The total weight of the flour in a recipe is our baseline measurement, and we measure all other ingredients as a ratio of this baseline. For an example formula let's look at the Country Sourdough:
Say I wanted one large loaf, which I scale at 1.2 kilograms. I divide 1.2kg by 181%, or 1.81, and I get 0.663 kilograms, or 663 grams. That's the total amount of flour in my recipe. Using this number and some simple algebra I can quickly determine the mass of the other ingredients. For one large loaf of this particular dough I need:
497g White Flour
106g Whole Wheat Flour
60g Whole Rye Flour
When I say "Wild Sourdough Culture, Wheat (18% of Flour)" I mean that 18% of the flour, and a corresponding portion of water, comes from my wheat sourdough starter. In this instance that means of the 663g of flour in this loaf 119g comes from my starter, or levain. This portion of the flour is what leavans the greater portion.
You might need to dust off your algebra textbooks, but with a little practice these sorts of calculations become second nature. Also, any worthwhile bread book will give a more thorough primer on this system. My recommendation, as always, is Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish (Library, Amazon). If you can't fork over a few bucks for a kitchen scale the folks at King Arthur Flour have a handy mass-volume conversion cheat sheet for you to use (and good luck converting 497g of flour to cups and teaspoons).
There are countless ways to go about turning a dough with those ingredients into a bread. Playing with different methods to make a bread suited to your taste is the fun and challenging part of baking. I'll leave that pleasure for you to discover.
I'll be uploading my formulas to the bread page over the next few weeks. I'm also adding a new bread and shuffling the baking schedule a bit. Check back for ongoing changes.