The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Bread Formula Illiteracy

amberwavesofgrain's picture

Bread Formula Illiteracy

Hello all! Can anyone point me in the right direction to better reading and understanding bread formulas, more specifically on this site? I understand bakers percentages (read about them on google earlier). I do not get the builds and charts as much though on this site, I have seen about 3 or 4 different charts here on The Fresh Loaf. I am very into furthering my knowledge about bread formulas to enhance my experience making bread. If anyone could provide me with some knowledge that would be awesome. Thank you! :)

largeneal's picture

Hello - I'm far from an expert, but if you gave a specific example (i.e. copy/link one of the charts you're referring to), perhaps we could walk through it.  I need a distraction from filling out this NCAA bracket :)

JacquelineColussi's picture

Hi amberwavesofgrain, I love your questions. Bread formulas are a special interest of mine, and I've spent a few years studying them. I'm a fan of the bread formula format standards developed by the Bread Bakers Guild of America. You can find an article about the BBGA standards, authored by Abram Faber, Craig Ponsford, and Jeffrey Yankellow, at

One of the reasons I like the BBGA standards are that they make available almost all--if not all--of the relevant information about a given formula. In other words, they leave little to no information out. Another reason is that by establishing a standard, it makes it possible to accurately compare one bread formula with another, which is an essential activity when broadening and deepening one's skills as a baker.

The BBGA standards article is on the long side, and I find it's helpful to read and re-read it, to sink my teeth into all of the concepts. To have a more compact reference at hand, I put together a mini "Anatomy of a Complex Bread Formula" here, to illustrate some of the same ideas:

I look forward to continuing the conversation with you. If there's a specific formula you'd like to explore (from a blog post or book, for example), it would be my pleasure to step through it with you.

Best wishes from Chicago,


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I love he idea of uniform standards and love the idea of free software to help take advantage of them!  Of course, not everybody follows the same path or has compatible hardware. 

Original Poster, what would be most helpful to you would be to find a recipe you are interested in, and post on that thread (and cross link here so we know where the question was asked and may be able to help you ) and ask the author to walk you through their formula. Whether they did it the way BBGA suggest or not, it will give you what you want for thst particular formula. Maybe Jaqueline could put it into and explain the standardized formula and educate us all in thr process. 

I too find myself somewhat bewildered when I see one of the complicated formulae, and although I have created a spreadsheet for the more complicated BBGA chart, I have never used it nor did it help me really follow what is supposed to happen when making the bread. 

David Snyder always posts a great spreadsheet formula for his breads. And he gives wonderful descriptions of the breads. I am not sure, however, if he ever walks through his charts and how they relate to the actual process.  

Here is the link to my post with the BBGA spreadsheet (google docs).