Angel 7

Baking to me was always something I did reluctantly.  I'm a cook.  Cooks and bakers are distinctly different creatures.  Cooks are the jazz musicians, bakers and pastry chefs are the classical pianists. I never had much confidence when flour, eggs and a 350 degree oven were involved. Until, that is, I began to study the proportions of the fundamental ingredients in order to arrive at baseline ratios for basic flour-liquid-fat-egg preparations and I saw how interrelated these preparations are, that there was scarcely a difference between a pound cake, a sponge cake, a pancake, a muffin and a crepe, that a biscuit dough was simply a pie dough with more liquid and rolled thicker, that an angel food cake (above) was simply meringue with flour folded in.  Here was my "eureka" moment.  (If you have Ratio I describe it on page 55, the moment when it all became clear and, through batter ratios, I learned not to fear death.)

In fact, I became kind of obsessed with them and, always fascinated by visual displays of quantitative information, began making graphs and charts. I love the current cover of Ratio for it's circular take on what I had only envisioned squarely—and its mandala-like design elegantly described my newfound appreciation for the unity of the dough-batter continuum.

But the circle doesn't allow room for notes on some finesse elements for these preparations, such as mixing method, how much salt, what kind of leavening, possible variations.

So I returned to the grid for it's utility.  Donna became fascinated as well, and, in response to strong interest last week from commenters here, she spent several days photoshopping my hand-drawn grid and notes.  And we are now excited to be able to offer here.  I see it as practical art.  I just like to look at it. It is not a poster but a photograph, an 11-by-14-inch chart on glossy photographic paper and due to what we expect to be a low print run, a little pricey.  We need to charge $20 even to cover postage, sleeves, envelopes, sales tax, and paypal's cut.  I think it's worth it as something to hang in the kitchen or post on an inside cupboard door.  But: for those who are strapped right now, as I know so many are, we will eventually offer a PDF if you simply want the info and are fine with a copy from of your printer.

Orders are now closed, thanks for your interest, PDF will be up soon!

For all those who expressed interest, though, here it is.  This is such a spontaneous act, I don't even have a page for it on my site, so here are the instructions: go to paypal, click "send money" and send $20 to michael@ruhlman.com. The concluding paypal page of the order will ask you if you want to include a message on the email i'll get: write "chart please!" and any signing instructions if that's something you would like.  I'm gratified by the interest many people have shown and very pleased and proud to offer it. This is what it looks like:

Ratio 3rd try for blog

Now, time to go make more quickbreads!

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44 Wonderful responses to “Dough and Batter Ratios (the chart!)”

  • luis

    Scott, you make no sense at all. The whole issue of understanding the ratios that make bread or pasta or fritters… have nothing to do with your own personal creative juices. Are you suggesting you will use a bread ratio to make a pasta???????
    RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!

  • Richard

    Michael, how would you adjust the bread ratio to make a sweeter dough for cinnamon rolls? I’d imagine you’d want to increase the sugar slightly, and increase the salt slightly to keep the yeast from eating all the sugar, but I don’t know how much.

  • tammy

    I think it’s grossly unethical that you requested on Twitter that people post positive reveiws on Amazon to counter a negative one. Have you no ethics?

  • luis

    Thank you Donna for the poster. It comes encased in plastic with a hard back on it. I could mat it and find a fancy frame for it… but I may just find a way to hang it as it is with the new attaching technologies available. I love my Tiny Taylor scale but its not nearly as impressive as the digital KD7000 scale… anyway This is how I cook from now on. RATIO is a very inspiring spirit lifting concept and puts the emphasis on creating FLAVOR not batters and doughs…and recipes.
    Great Job all…

  • luis

    This is a beautiful poster so I will look to frame it… I don’t think it needs matting but…if the frame and the matt come together… who knows… As long as it doesnt’t detract from my very own autographed copy… is no biggy…

  • Nathan

    I am interested in the poster. Have you converted it to PDF yet? Thanks for the great resource!

  • Lisa

    Aaawww. Orders are closed and I just discovered this. Hope the PDF’s up soon. Pretty please and thank you.

  • 19thandfolsom

    Jazz musicians have all the notes in the world. Good jazz comes from how the notes are combined. The classical cellist only has the notes on the pages, but the great performance comes from interpretation and technique. Both require an intimate understanding, passion, and a certain touch.

    Whoa, that’s a lovely metaphor, j!

  • Scott

    I just got the book and was bummed. I was hoping for charts like this I could use on a cork board. I’m intensely curious about this launching a whole new way of thinking about cooking.

    I just spent the weekend making 6 batches of biscuits for Easter breakfast. The whole time anticipating receiving this book and wishing my recipes were in weights and not volumetric measures. I noticed how a wetter batch ended up more dense than a drier batch that rose more and was more flaky.

    My dough had sugar in it, and the sweetness was nice. It looks like Ruhlman’s does not. So now I’m thinking I don’t want Ruhlman charts at all. I want a blank page. I want my own chart. These ratios are a springboard from which so much understanding can be realized through experimentation. The end result is real knowledge and a recipe that’s decidedly all your own. This is really exciting stuff

  • Debbie Fox

    I just got my signed copy of “Ratio”, thank you very much. I just love it, thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this book. You have given real “power” to the home cook. I am especially grateful for the chapters on stock.

  • Spencer Kormos

    I bought “Ratio” yesterday, and my very analytical mind is turning over the possibilities the more I get through it. It’s an excellent work, and too long in arriving! Great job.

  • Offalboy

    Hmm guess like i messed up my comment and it didn’t stick.

    Anyways, would you send it to Sweden for some extra $?

    /Patrik

  • j

    Sean and Ruhlman:

    I’m subbing classical cellist for classical pianist.

    As a professional baker, I’m glad to be compared to a classical concert pianist. Too many times has my profession been compared to science, making it sound like it’s strict and by the numbers, which isn’t true of baking or science.

    The culinary chef is much like a jazz musician. Take chicken soup. What defines chicken soup? Chicken and some liquid. It can be cream, broth, water, wine, vinegar, etc… The chicken can be cubed, shredded, chunked. Hundreds of vegetable and seasoning combinations. Heck, I’m sure some molecular-gastro chef has taken the essence of chicken soup, gelatinized it, cubed it, put it in a ravioli, and called it inside out chicken noodle soup.

    As a baker though, my ingredients are water, flour, yeast, salt. A cellist has four strings and a bow. What I do is defined by understanding, treatment, and technique, much like a classical cellist. We are both restricted. He can’t play Bartok like Glass. I can’t make a baguette like brioche. Take Yo Yo Ma’s Bach’s Suites (I know, they’re almost cliche) – his performance can move people, all with four strings and a bow. He’s not just reading notes off a page, he’s adding his own interpretation. It’s not rote. He adds depth and character. Now take a classic baguette formula. Give it to two baker’s. You’ll get different loaves because of different interpretations. But! Unlike two chefs’ chicken soups, the two baguettes will look like a baguette, have a thin, crisp crusty, and an nice open crumb.

    Jazz musicians have all the notes in the world. Good jazz comes from how the notes are combined. The classical cellist only has the notes on the pages, but the great performance comes from interpretation and technique. Both require an intimate understanding, passion, and a certain touch. And I don’t think anyone would argue that Wynton Marsalis is a better musician than Yo Yo Ma, nor vice versa.

  • sean

    i’ve read this baker/cook breakdown before and i categorically disagree with it.

    i actually find it frustrating that someone of your caliber would reduce it to this pejorative dichotomy of “jazz musician” vs. “classical concert pianist”, as if the two were mutually exclusive.

    there are rote aspects of both types of cooking. there can be enjoyment taken from the precision of cooking (as you do mention in your writing), but there is always room for improvisation. the same thing goes for cooking.

  • Kim

    rather than a periodic time table, it’s so much cooler to hang your poster instead. Thanks for the great breakdown on baking.

  • Sue Crutcher

    Thank you for going to all the effort of creating this chart. It is wonderful. I enjoy baking and experimenting — this is a great help.
    Sue

  • Victoria

    I ordered your photograph pronto – now I can’t wait to receive it and get it framed. I know just where it’s going to go in my kitchen upstate. (My NYC kitchen is probably smaller than the photo.)

    I have tickets to go to a concert with a friend at the MMA on Wednesday so I can’t hear you speak about writing on Wednesday. That’s such a shame for me. Hope there’s a next time.

    Have fun in NYC this week.

  • j.o.

    Why don’t you have this printed on plastic like those sold to roll dough out on. It would keep forever and we would use it forever.

    Great job!

  • JerzeeTomato

    I am so pleased that you are sharing so valuable a genre of information usually kept behind closed kitchens, I smiled, I actually freaking smiled. This is why I we bake because we love to share. You two are great people!!!

  • CucumberPandan in Jakarta

    I love Edward Tufte’s books! (I’m a graphic designer and his stunning works influence me more than those of other ‘designers’).

    Can’t wait for the PDF version of the chart to be available because I live on the other side of the globe. And I’m still waiting for the book to be available here (*sigh*).

  • Fuzzy

    Love it! Must wait for the PDFs, but hope we can get a bigger one for all the ratios! Maybe once my friend gets his large-format letterpress machine going he’ll make some for you.

  • luis

    Itching to get my copy of Ratio and this chart…
    Today I got my tiny four inch deBuyer pan….Real Carbon steel bro…. what a performer…Also I chased down a ceramic Pinacle oven pan. I am in love with Pinacle Ceramic oven ware. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
    Next month when we go for our anual fishing trip down to the Florida Keys…I will be prepared to once again rule as the chef dujour…..

  • kevin

    Michael,
    I love Tufte’s book. My father gave me a copy for Christmas many, many years ago and it is a stunning self-reference of its topic.

    BTW, I think I sold another couple of copies of Charcuterie at Easter dinner last night. (I sauteed fiddlehead ferns with pork confit I’d made with your recipe and garlic) I should charge a commission.

  • Gabriella True

    We are gluten, casein and soy free because one of my kids has autism. So of course we use all different kinds of flour besides wheat. Do you think the same ratios hold up?

  • 19thandfolsom

    Wow, the chart looks gorgeous! Kudos to you and Donna!

    I just received my copy of Ratio today and can’t wait to get home and start reading it.

  • Kate in the NW

    This is like the Rosetta Stone of flour.

    I, also, am not a baker – but just looking at that chart, I start thinking “Hey – now THAT’s COOKING!” I can get into that!

    Infinitely better than recipes…THANK YOU. If I can get my husband to trust PayPal I’ll order one – otherwise, I’ll have to wait for the PDF. Thanks for being so generous as to do that for us! :-)

  • Stacey Ballis

    Gorgeous! Wish I could get this version, but I’ll have to wait for that PDF…in the meantime, thanks for doing the hard part so the rest of us can bake easy!

  • e

    I love that you are citing Edward Tufte. He is the master organizing information in a clear way. All of his books are wonderful. I look forward the PDF version of your chart.

  • luis

    Michael, my request is in…hope you write something cool on it..
    Thanks for putting it together for us.
    luis

  • joanne+flour bakery staff

    Thank you Michael and Donna for this! We all look forward to using this and making our baking even better.

  • carri

    Are you tired of stirring yet? All those quickbreads…so little time! Don’t forget to save some strength for all those posters you are going to have to sign. Thanks so much to you both for doing this!

  • Vivian

    Well done! I have a spot already in mind for this piece. I love the cover of Ratio but I think I like this even better. The photos are gorgeous and the layout of the chart will definitely be easily utilized in the kitchen.