I don’t know about you, but I am always looking up standard equivalents up on the internet as I switch between recipes from many different places. Different standards are used – particularly between the US and those other societies that employ metric measurements. Historical recipes can also throw a spanner in the works with odd drams, pinches, tea cups (sometimes called gills), smidgens and scruples – non-standard, informal measures. I do have handy conversion apps on my phone, on my computer, and even on my iPad for conventional measurement conversions. Plus, I’ve bookmarked any number of specialist websites – for specific ingredient conversions, descriptions of informal measures and their approximations to conventional ones, and also sites for substituting ingredients. Sometimes it is hard work looking up sites and calculating measures when I want to make something.
I’d like to make a note of the following information that I commonly use. It comes from multiple sources, so it is handy to have all in one place.
How to Convert a Yeast Bread Recipe to Sourdough
Bread recipes will have yeast, flour and water as the basic ingredients. Of course, it is possible that milk or other liquids can be used instead of water. These are the ones affected. Other ingredients such as salt, butter, oil, egg, sugar, etc. (if they are used) in the original yeast bread recipe will remain the same.
Before we get into maths and numbers, there is one thing to bear in mind: there are no exact measurements in making bread, only guidelines. It requires knowledge of ingredients and experience with the texture of your dough. The following numbers are approximates. Despite this inexactness, I find It useful to have a template – a recipe – to understand the balance of ingredients.
For this exercise in sourdough maths, start with the yeast. You will need to convert the measurements for yeast by type. There are two basic varieties of yeast (other than your sourdough starter). These are packets of dry yeast and cakes of fresh yeast.
|1 packet dry yeast||2 1/4 (2.25)||1/4 (0.25)||7|
|1 cake fresh yeast||–||1/2 (0.5)||14|
For each basic unit of yeast, there is one addition (+) and two subtractions (–) to the original yeast bread recipe.
|+||Sourdough Starter||1||8||225||Weight conversions will vary with the starter because of the CO2 activity. In other words, if very bubbly, it will be lighter. These weight conversions are basic ones for 100% hydration starter.|
|–||Water (or other liquid)||1/2 (0.5)||4||118||Other common liquids include milk, and fruit or vegetable juices that replace all or part of the water.|
|–||Flour||3/4 (0.75)||3 1/3 (3.33)||94||Weights may vary according to the type of flour used – plain (all-purpose), strong (bread flour), whole wheat, rye, etc.|
= One loaf of sourdough bread.
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Another Note: Bread making – particularly sourdough bread making is an art as well as a science. Three years ago, I wrote a post on Variables of a Sourdough Kind which laid out the diversity of sourdough creations based on variables in the basic ingredients. Bread making is an exercise in experimentation – usually all edible.