The Fresh Loaf

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poolish or preferment math.

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bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

poolish or preferment math.

hi everyone. i'm new to this site and new to baking and have what is probably a very stupid question. although i'm pretty good in art, my math is very crummy. (and that's not a good kind of crumb!)

so i'm making a preferment today and trying to use my scale. as i understand it, a preferment is 1:1 water to flour and 1/4tsp yeast. the question arises when i try to figure baker's percentages. in baker's percents a preferment would be 100% flour and 100% water  by weight and 1/4 tsp yeast.

obviously flour and water are not the same weight. and if you figure the weight of the flour as the 100% measure and the water as a percentage of that...then you have the baker's percentages. well here's what happened today when measuring:

1 cup of flour (houston, humid, sea level) weighed .29 lbs or 4.64 oz. (sorry don't know how to change my scale to grams).

1 cup water by measure weighed .52lbs or 9.88oz.

so if i'm making a 100% to 100% preferment that is 1:1 by weight. then it's about 1/2 as much water to the flour by measure. right? it means that i weigh out .29lb or 4.64 oz of water and add to the poolish, right?

my technique for measuring the flour is to spoon in flour to my measure scoop. then leveled with a knife, and measure.

if this is the case then adding 1 cup of flour and 1cup of water by measure is waaaaayyyyyyyyyy wrong! because it means that the water is too much volume for the amount of flour, right?

 

tia!

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== if this is the case then adding 1 cup of flour and 1cup of water by measure is waaaaayyyyyyyyyy wrong! because it means that the water is too much volume for the amount of flour, right?===

Around 1936, the Polish Government obtained a German Enigma coding machine via a spy. However, the head of the Polish Intelligence Division did not tell his mathematicians that he had the machine in hand; he forced them to break the code from scratch - probably the hardest feat of applied mathematics in the history of the world to that date. The methods and machines were later turned over to the British who used them as part of their famous Bletchley Park effort. The Poles do all the work, the English get all the glorious movies made about them. No wonder calculating poolishes is so hard!

 

Sorry for that digression ;-). Your observation is correct. In the recipe that came with my King Arthur artisan bread video the poolish is made with 1 cup water, 1-3/4 cup flour, and 1/8 tsp or less yeast. In my experience (depending on the humidity) that works out to about a 1:1 ratio by weight, and produces a fairly stiff poolish.

The legendary Floyd's daily bread recipe calls for 1 cup flour and 1 cup of water in the poolish, which is much soupier. I have never calculated it out but that must be about 130% of water by weight.

The great thing about the scale though is you don't have to worry too much about it. Put your mixing bowl on the scale, zero it, throw in about 1-3/4 cups flour by eye, note the weight, then add water until you are double that weight. Off you go.

I would suggest looking up the setting for grams though. I use lbs and oz in daily life but measuring, convererting, percentages, etc are much easier in grams.

sPh

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

thanks for the chuckle and the info sPh! u got a "rise" outta me! bwahahahaha.

i'm going to blog in this thread as i make this recipe today. hope you don't mind. maybe it will give complete novices like me a bit of a reassurance that things work out as planned. the only bad thing is that our camera is less than perfect, but i will attempt to take a photo of the bread at the end. this will be only the 2nd time i've attempted kneaded bread per se. and when i say "kneaded" bread, this is going to actually be more of a no knead bread, but it still involves yeast which is the critter that scares me worse than a home permanent kit. i've tried pizza dough's with horrible results. but i do ok with blinis and angel biscuits. :D the first ciabatta turned out poorly. last week's pizza experiment gave promising results but still fell far from the perfect 10 mark. hopefully this bread will do better!

so i'm using floyd's "my daily bread" recipe. and even though i worked out the theoretical math on this i went ahead and used the recipe as written, since let's face it...he makes gorgeous stuff and following a recipe is based on trust. i trust that he knows what he's doing and i trust that i know NOTHING about bread baking beyond what i've come into contact with in cooking (which is precious little) and the amounts of information i've absorbed since becoming obsessed with mastering baking (which is equally precious little in the big scope of things)!

9:00am - so i made a 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1/4tsp yeast poolish yesterday at about 12:00pm(noon). i covered it and let it sit out overnight. when i woke this morning there was liquor on top of it (watery liquid smelling of yeasty alcohol) and it had receded. i've read about this happening with sourdough's so think it's nbd. and it will be ok after the flour has been added. i weighed out 1 lb of flour and added the poolish to the flour along with 12oz - 1 tbsp of water (i held the 1 tbsp to combine my active dry yeast with later). i mixed this by hand with a spatula and mixed to incorporate only. it still has quite a lot of lumps and resembles a lumpy batter like a bisquick batter that isn't quite mixed enough. so i've set it aside to autolyse. and when that is done, i will add the salt and the remaining yeast.

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

9:50am - i used the 1 tbsp of water left and combined it with the 1 tsp of active dry yeast (the kind in the packages because it's what i had). also, the only flour i have is ap (all purpose). so, i'm using the most basic elements the average newcomer has on hand at the moment.

10:00am - added the yeast slurry with a spatula. and used the spatula to incorporate into the dough mixture which is quite viscous and fluid. it is not liquid. it is not batter. it is a very wet fluid mass of dough that adheres together and moves as a mass. i stirred the yeast into the mixture for about a minute total. scraping the sides and mixing/folding/agitating. in other words, i did not "beat the crap" outta it and did not break a sweat in the stirring. i then added the 2 tsp of salt. for this test, i also used the elements most novices have in their kitchens. iodized salt in the blue paper cylinder. i mixed the dough batter again for maybe 30-45 seconds until i was sure the salt was incorporated. i took the temperature for grins with my instant read digital thermometer and the dough read 75degrees. i think from reading the optimal temp is somewhere between 70-75 degree window if memory serves me (and please know the memory often refuses service at the door to me due to an improper dress code or some other imagined slight). the bowl is covered and set aside to rise for the next 1 hour. at 11:00am i will give the dough it's first fold. exciting isn't? (kinda like watching bread rise!) :D

note: the look of this dough is very different after the 1 hour autolyse period. it went from looking rather like dull, glumpy, wall paper paste or rabid oatmeal to a relatively smooth-ish or -er, silky, fluid body. i could still see small lumps occasionally (pea size or less) but again, am not going to worry with this. the texture is really great. very wet.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

A couple of hints on turning. Floyd's daily bread recipe has a high hydration factor and is a bit of mess to deal with the first few times you make it. Don't worry though - no matter how messy I have always ended up with something at least edible.

Hint 1: about 20 minutes before you are ready to turn, use a flour wand, your fist, or a sifter with a very light touch to dust flour over the surface of the dough in the bowl (this surface will eventually become the crust). This will absorb some of the excess moisture from the surface and make it easier to work with when you turn the dough upside-down onto the work surface.

Hint 2 (from the KA video): use a spoon to spoon a small amount of flour all the way around the edge where the dough meets the bowl. Then use a plastic dough scraper or flexible spatula to work that flour down the side of the bowl. It will act as a release agent when you pull the dough up.

Note: when you pull the dough out of the bowl to turn it the first time, it will act like very soft taffy or melted mozerella cheese: it will strrrrrrrretch way out. Be mentally prepared for this. Your goal is to get the top surface of the dough in the bowl turned upside down onto your floured work surface; I try to do this in one big dig, stretch, and flip motion with my hand under the dough scraper under the dough.

And looking ahead (since I will be leaving for the drive to the family castle soon), be aware that after final shaping Floyd's recipe is often still pretty liquidy and floppy. In fact it might expand outward more than it rises upward. Don't worry about this either: when you get it onto the baking surface and give it the first burst of heat it usually springs up into a nice football shape.

Have fun! I am making a sourdough rye to take upstate, and I am supposed to produce baguettes for Sunday morning from my sister's kitchen with none of my usual tools!

sPh

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

11:00am well i went in with hope and return in defeat (maybe)? the dough had not risen. and i am using newly purchased yeast well within the expiration date. there were small and medium size holes in the top of the batter and on the sides as viewed through the glass mixing bowl. i've made a very key discovery. there is a reason why you should do the folding on a surface other than your kitchen drainboard. i have a great island that allows me to work doughs from all sides, so i thought...hmmm no need for parchment or floured linen or cutting boards. i just spread the flour out and fearlessly tumped (that's southern for dumped/turned) my dough mass on top and then i watched in horror as the uncontrollable blob slowly spread towards one edge of the island to the other. quickly gathering my wits, i started using my dough scraper to "fold" the dough. and this is where it went horribly wrong. i probably "folded the dough" about 4 times. each time i would change directions of the dough by 90degrees. after about the 3rd time (using large amounts of flour) the dough behaved nicely and remained where it was folded without too much seeping left or right.

the nightmare of trying to put the dough back into the bowl. well let's just say, that IS the reason to use parchment, a cookie sheet, or cutting board or some other flat, portable surface. because trying to pick the folded dough up at this point is like trying to pick up mercury or jello with your fingers. it just ain't happenin folks. so i gave up and just scooped/plopped the dough back into the bowl. i have a ragged mass of dough without a domed or tighted top, with lots of flour hanging out everywhere. i've covered it and am again, going to go in for the 1 hour fold session. this time, bruised but wiser. i will use a plastic cutting board (my largest at 20x24) for this second folding adventure and see if that gives better results. i hope that i haven't fatally injured my dough but i must see this experience through to the end. it will make pictures that much more important. next update will be about an hour from now. wish me luck.

 sPh - NOW YOU TELL ME! rofl! i was "not prepared" for the return of the blob! :D i fear i have fatally wounded this blob o bread. we shall see! thanks for the tips and for popping in so to speak. hope you have a wonderful weekend and happy baking!!!

sphealey's picture
sphealey

===and this is where it went horribly wrong. i probably "folded the dough" about 4 times. each time i would change directions of the dough by 90degrees. after about the 3rd time (using large amounts of flour) the dough behaved nicely and remained where it was folded without too much seeping left or right. the nightmare of trying to put the dough back into the bowl. well let's just say, that IS the reason to use parchment, a cookie sheet, or cutting board or some other flat, portable surface. because trying to pick the folded dough up at this point is like trying to pick up mercury or jello with your fingers. it just ain't happenin folks. so i gave up and just scooped/plopped the dough back into the bowl. i have a ragged mass of dough without a domed or tighted top, with lots of flour hanging out everywhere. ===

As my English coworkers used to say, "No worries!". That is all pretty normal for the first few times you do this. The fact that it felt better after the folds is a good sign. Just give the yeast more time to work - plan on 2 hours for the next rising.

sPh

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

1:15pm - having taken sPh's advice about a 2 hour rise, i approached the folding with much less angst than the first go round. the dough is doubled in the bowl almost exactly. i decided to use a floured piece of parchment paper and baking sheet as my tools. i lightly dusted the top of the loaf and and around the sides before trying to scrape the dough and it worked very well. the dough was formed but extremely soft and very wet as i turned it out onto the floured parchment. i folded in thirds, turned 90 degrees and folded in thirds again, and seeing it was still lacking very much form, decided to turn and fold again.

so i have now exceeded the folding and turning first recommended. i'm at 7 turns/folds for this bread. i've made every effort not to squish or unduely jostle this dough and i did see quite large bubbles in the dough. it appears to still be very tender, despite the extra flour i've made liberal use of.

the procedure went much smoother. i actually (barely) picked up the dough and placed it folded side down back into the bowl. since i have nothing but time on my hands today with good friday, i am going back in for another rest period. i will only go for an hour this time and see what happens with the dough. this next time i will cut and shape the dough and set it for it's final rise.

i have surmised i will either kill us all with the bacteria i've cultured in the last 24 hours within the bread or come hell or high water we will be eating this sob tonight regardless of how it looks! :D

i do believe this will be a very good test to floyd's daily bread recipe. because if i could possibly screw this bread up i have already done or will do so in my trials today. so far i haven't felt very mystical or magical as a baker today. but i do believe that one day i will make an excellent snot wrangler. (are we allowed to say that word on here?) more later...

i've also decided that i will make 1 loaf of bread and use the other half to make pizza dough for tonite - neopolitan style.

audra36274's picture
audra36274

I have been baking for quite some time, and I still screw up !Today for instance, I got up early, got out my stuff for my dough, called my best friend and announced that if all goes well she could come by about 4:00 p.m. or so and get her piping hot loaf. Everything was going smooth. TOO SMOOTH. I had already shaped my loaves, and the only place I have that is decent to rise ( that the kids won't goof them up somehow, you couldn't imagine what they will do if your back is turned) is in the oven. I boil a pan of water and set it inside and turn on the light, and that is usually a nice warm, humid place to rise. Can you see already where this is going. You guessed it, I lost my mind and turned the dang oven on. When it hit 350 degrees, the buzzer went off and it hit me what I had done. I know its Good Friday but OOOHHH what I said!!!! Any way, I grabbed it and put it out on the freezer on my back porch,(its cold as crap today) until the oven cooled down, and proceeded. Don't know the outcome yet, but it ain't near as pretty as I had hoped. So don't get discouraged, it happens to everybody!

                                                                    Audra

p.s.   As far as I know, I think its OK to say snot wrangler.

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

2:15pm and all is well! hahaha! i just checked the dough and although it's risen since the last turn an hour ago, i don't think it's risen quite enough and since i'm the one drivin this bus to hell...i'm gonna let it go about another 30 minutes. :D

audra! thanks for popping in and saying hi! i need all the encouragement i can get! i'm so happy you found out that you had turned your oven on before you set the bread inside the oven!!! this way, even though your timing is different, you and your friend might have a bit of extra time to visit!? we don't have kids but have many many nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews so i'm with ya on what happens when you turn your back on the little ones! :D good times!

i was "easing into the whole bread baking thing" lol, by trying out the frozen dough rolls you buy at the supermarket. and we wanted rolls with dinner but i had forgotten to thaw and proof them...so i used the quick method...put the water bath in and turned the oven on to 150 degrees...see where this is heading? yep, i popped those puppies right in and went to check on them two hours later! you got it. leather hockey pucks! :D they rose a tee-niny bit and had tough skins on them and i went ahead and baked em for grins. let's just say, never try to cook rolls at 150. and never try to proof rolls with the oven actually turned on! it was disaster and i'm lucky we dint have a trip to the dentist as a result!

needless to say, i quit messin with the frozen roll dough and said, wow i can screw up that badly doing it from scratch! and so began my journey into the land where yeast tree buds do grow!

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

3:00 to be fair to floyd i must put this disclaimer in. this now bears no resemblance to floyd's recipe. i turned the dough 3 more times and then cut it in half. half of the dough i took to a separate parchment sheet of flour and turned an additional 2 times to make a batard. and sprinkled it with flour then covered losely with plastic wrap and a tea towel. it is now doing it's last 90 minute proof.

the other half of the dough...well it may be lost. i don't know. the second half of the dough was split. i put one ball in olive oil and oiled the outside and put it in the frig for the next 3 hours until time to get dinner started. the second hunk of dough went to it's own sheet of parchment where i started to stretch it out to make a deep dish/sicilian pizza style for my husband who like a more bready pizza. it flunked the window pane test. big time. so i am letting it sit on the parchment for about 15 minutes then stretching it a bit more, incrementally to see if i can get something large enough to let proof for a deep dish pizza. only time will tell.

i have no idea what this crumb or hole structure will be on any of these. i've been as gentle as possible for me but who knows? i did end up kneading my crust which is now in the fridge because it was still way too wet inside. this is going to be a good ground zero test of no kneading. in floyd's recipe he calls for kneading the dough an autolyse and a knead of 8-10 minutes ( i may have misread this part, i didn't quite get if it was an either/or statement). so it's going to be very interesting. i will start preheating the oven in about 30 minutes and let it preheat with my stone in there for about an hour.

the texture of this dough is very interesting. when i was in school studying pre-med, i worked in a hospital lab. i came into contact with many age groups. this dough has the feeling of a tender geriatric woman who's skin is very thin but who has a little padding underneath it all(in other words she isn't skinny). my guess is going to be that this dough is underdeveloped. because it has no spring back. it is still quite wet despite the fact that i did not spare the flour at any stage.

more later!

audra36274's picture
audra36274

Where you live do you see rolls at your local super market by Sister Schubert? They come in Parker house rolls, and the same but with little smoked sausages in them. I was young at the time, and all I had ever had were lunch room rolls (heavenly at our school) and the hard Church get together hockey pucks like you spoke of. I wanted to find a recipe even back then that was equal to the school soft puffy clouds of goodness. That started my yeast disease 20 years ago, and it continues on today. ANYWAY, you could get Sister's rolls in the freezer section of the grocery store, and they were pretty good, a close second, anyway. A while later I saw a cookbook by the good sister, and its been on ever since. Her instructions were easy to follow, and I found I could turn out some pretty decent rolls. Since then sister sold out to some mass producing company who turns them out a gazillion a day, not from her kitchen like in the days of old, but they still ain't bad. After you get over your ordeal today with the dough from hell, if you like I'll post the Sister Schubert parkerhouse roll recipe. Well I'll try to do it anyway, but this being Easter weekend and I may not have time. But I'll get it out as soon as I can. That is if I don't freeze my southern butt off this weekend finding those dang eggs! Alabama ain't supposed to be cold this time of year.

                                                                                   Audra

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

5:43pm the wait is over. after a 90 minute proof and 20 minutes in the oven under a turkey roaster. we do have bread! it appears crusty on the outside. i don't think it's very thick on the crust. and no telling what the crumb is like. the pan pizza dough is in the pan rising very slowly. the dough in the frig is also rising slowly. it's anybody's guess how this will taste.

you can tell that i didn't make the slashes deep enough. or in the correct position and i think that slashing them meant that i loosened the surface tension on the loaf so it got much wider than it should have! but here's proof that at least from outward appearances and despite all my changes, this dough was very forgiving! thanks for letting me chronicle this journey. i hope in a year, i can look back and laugh at what an idiot i was in making all these rookie mistakes!

 My First Pain Sur Poolish040607FirstPSP: My First Pain Sur Poolish

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

 It's been a year... as noted. Your thoughts on your journey?

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Paul