The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Preferment ingredient amounts - in or out of formulas?

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david earls's picture
david earls

Preferment ingredient amounts - in or out of formulas?

When I took up baking a few years back, i did it with a bread machine. After a couple of months, I converted all my recipes to formulas and optimized the formulas for the size of the bread machine pan. Since the pan size is a constant, when I began using preferments, I split the baking process into two steps. Step 1 is to have the machine mix the preferment. Step 2 is to add the remaining ingredients to the machine and use the timer to set the finish time - 12 or 13 hours from when the preferment was mixed and the remaining ingredients added. This method produces excellent bread.

Lately I've been making most of my bread by hand, but I've continued "subtracting" the preferment flour and water from my final dough calculations. Baking at my house is all about loaf size - the loaf has to be a size my wife and I can eat at a single meal, and everything has to "fit" my baking equipment. So, for example, if I'm making a ciabatta with 200g of total flour, my poolish formula is 100g each of flour and water, and the dough is the remaining 100g of flour, any remaining water, etc.

I noticed that Ciril Hitz does not include the flour and water in preferments in his formula calculations. This caused me some very salty loaves - I was calculating salt as a percentage of total flour, he was calculating as percentage of dough flour. If you do it the Hitz way, how do you figure out how much preferment to add to a dough?

BTW, I keep a lot of notes when I bake, so my adapted process works very well for me. Just curious how others do it. Something tells me I'm doing it "wrong."

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

are you using?  There is quite a big difference between a polish and a  biga using commercial yeast and a SD or YW preferment amd how much is used.  I use 10-20% for the total dough weight for SD preferment but have seen recipes for 30% or more if a 166% hydration liquid starter.

I would figure salt on the total flour used = 1.5 to 2%

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

the "total formula" ingredients and count the flour in the preferment. There's no real other way to do. Any other method is just a roundabout way of doing the same thing.

If using a commercial yeast preferment, you can go quite high with it's flour content - I've baked a bread which had 80 % prefermented flour in a biga from FWSY, as well as a bread with 50 % prefermented flour in a poolish from the same book. So with commercial yeast preferments you can go pretty high. With SD, I usually follow the guidelines that dabrownman specified, except rye breads - a lot of them have as much 40 % prefermented flour in a rye sour, like Hamelman's 66% rye, Andy's Moscow rye, Borodinsky and so on.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

tye breads for 8-16 hours to deveop the flavor and sour. I nworry so much preferment would turn them into goo :-)

david earls's picture
david earls

I'm with you on the salt %. It's not uncommon for me to calculate the preferment size to use 100% of the water, equal amount of flour with the balance of the flour going into the dough phase. That's the way my bread machine preferments operate, and I've kept notes on what works and what doesn't, I'm applying what I've learned "over there" to what I'm doing "over here."

Like I said, I suspect i am doing it "wrong" - except that it works - and I'm just curious about what others do.

Curious about one other thing: can you actually get an affordable kitchen scale that measures tenths of a gram? Most of my formulas are scaled down so far that they ask for 2.3g of salt, or .75g of yeast, and my scale is not that accurate. To me, getting to within a gram is "close enough for government work."

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

scales, I know Karin (hanseata) uses them, but I've no idea how much they might cost. Shouldn't be too expensive.

An alternative, if you use the same salt all the time, is to go borrow someone's scale, weigh the mass of one teaspoon of your salt and use a part of teaspoon. If you change your brand of salt, its density will likely be different as well so you'll have to weigh again.

proth5's picture
proth5

how to reply when some says "affordable" - one person's affordable is another's eye popingly expensive.

However, I was working with small quantities of ingredients and found Old Will Knott.  I have heard others speeak highly of this business and they certainly treated me well.

Check these (and others on this website) out - they might work for you http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/search.asp?keyword=gcap500-under, gres0_02-0_1&catid=

(I don't know what is going on with this url - don't click on the link - paste the whole thing inot your browser - and before you faint dead away, sort by price - lowest to highest...)

Hope this helps.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

I just had the same issue. Resolved on edit by killing the rich-text, and using html markup directly.

proth5's picture
proth5

Thanks for the help, but I'm not able to follow the directions.  Some tech blockage, I guess.  Just paste the actual link is going to have to do it...

Pat

david earls's picture
david earls

what i do now is to add salt until the threshold of a gram is crossed, then use a tap of additional when my formula calls for 2.3 g. I don't think i'm doing any harm this way, and it's all I've got.

Thanks for your first reply, that's exactly what I'm doing and it's working. The Hitx book may be the odd one out, but it never really gets into relating the amount of flour in the preferment with the total flour in the formula.

Does forum protocol make it acceptable for me to send a message to Karin when she hasn't posted on this topic?

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

PM her, it won't hurt anybody, will it? :)

I do the same you do, but usually make amounts that call for 12-15 grams of salt, so I don't worry about the fractional part.

david earls's picture
david earls

for "micro-bakers" like me. I'll be trying out a "micro-boule" this week: a 150g-flour loaf baked in a Superstone chestnut roaster - it's only 6.25" in diameter. I have high hopes.

Don't mean to be a wuss on forum protocol, but on some forums an uninvited PM would be an intrusion on privacy. I have too much to learn here to get myself in the doghouse right off the bat - 

Thx for your guidance.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

You are absolutely correct to ask first before doing something about which you're not sure. As an old school *nix list, board and forum user I may be sensitive to etiquette on the net. There was nothing that would get your backside flame broiled quicker than a breach of the group's rules; some not necessarily written.

Now for your inexpensive scale: American Weigh Black Blade Digital Pocket Scale, 1000 by 0.1 G. Amazon notes that I bought mine two years ago come the eighth of this month. I don't need it for my baking, but is it ever handy for weighing those small amounts of spices.

May I suggest that instead of making such small amounts each time, make a larger batch. Scale and divide the dough to the amount you want to bake at a time and form balls, wrap and freeze. The day before baking, move to the fridge section to thaw and bulk ferment. Then shape, final proof, and bake. Just my 2¢ American.

cheers,

gary

david earls's picture
david earls

I've found respect is rare and always appreciated.

Ordered the American Weigh Scale product, can hardly wait to see how it turns out. A lot of my food recipes use herbs, so this will helpful there too. Crazy, I know, but I've been converting food recipes to formulas as well - 

As for micro-baking - well, let's just say that a) it's a challenge that b) a lot of others are interested in, and c) the act of baking on a frequent - daily if possible - basis becomes one of life's gifts. If, in my old age, I get to choose between making my daily bread daily, and watching re-runs of "The Bionic Woman" on tv - put me down for baking. BTW, I am in my old age, and have no interest in "The Bionic Woman" -