The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

pâte fermentée

Kentucky Jim's picture

What if Pate Fermentee is more than 3 days old?

March 19, 2013 - 10:10am -- Kentucky Jim

I have read that 1 to 3 days is the right time for a pate fermentee.  I have a chunk in the refrigerator that is a week old.  Is it still good, but not optimal, or will it make foul bread? What happens after three days that makes it unfit? (Sourdoughs seem to keep longer and be okay)

littlelisa's picture

Using old dough

April 2, 2012 - 4:34am -- littlelisa

Yesterday I made my usual 'artisanal' bread. My formula is 100% flour, 85% water, 0.01 instant yeast% and 0.015 salt. I made a poolish the night before, using half the flour and water with a tiny bit of yeast. Then mixed up the remainder of the dough in the morning, did my usual folds and rests and baked. I held back 800g worth of dough to use as 'old dough' for my next batch, which I would like to bake tomorrow.

Here's my question: How should I use my old dough? I'm thinking I have several options:

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I suspect that I'm not the only one that has had an impulse or two to color out side the lines. This time, I got caught up in reading too much and just had to do something I hadn't found in my books. I had read about using using large preferments that were bigas or poolishs but I had to try a pate fermentee. I wanted some bread to go with the all purpose red sauce I was working on and thought that I could make pizza dough for the next night in the same batch. No problem, right? Just mix it up, divide it, put half in an oiled bowl, cover it, and place it in the fridge for a long winter's proofing. The other half was to be bulk fermented, S&F'ed, and then shaped.

Well, I had seen something in Ciril Hitz's book, "Baking Artisan Bread", that used extra dough for a kind of flat bread that was cut in quarters and I thought I'd aim at that. When I got to shaping, I flattened the dough into a circle about 5/8-3/4" thick and wide enough to fill the bottom of a pie pan. Here's what happened...


It's not pretty but I do have the alibi or excuse of inexperience. That sounds better than ignorance, don't you think? The crumb is something else again. We've all heard of baker's houses but this was the first time I'd ever seen a baker's cave.


Don't do this at home kids, it's been done already. If I ever take another shot at this, I'll go with a poolish, much like Hamelman's Pain Rustique formula to give my little mixer an easier day at the job and use a stone so I can have a flatter dough. The dough did turn into a fine accompaniment to the evening's pasta and the pizza crust on Friday night did pass muster. There were no other complaints, digestive or otherwise.

The other folly is that I'm opening up my blog to everyone that's curious or a glutton for punishment or has too much time on their hands.

It's a work in progress; part journal of my baking, part overview for family and friends to look into what's happening in my kitchen and garden, and finally, a way for me to get back into a more thoughtful kind of writing, something I haven't really done since I graduated from college almost 39 years ago. Feel free to peruse the recipes and use them if you think they're worthy. Be sure to leave your comments and share a laugh when you've got one. Over and out.


mdunham21's picture

As promised, I am keeping you up to date with my recent baking adventures.  I have a love for baguettes but nothing has given me more grief than this elusive bread.  I have baked these loaves a number of times but have failed to develop the nice open airy crumb that beckons me to bake them as often as I do.  


            Today’s bake started as a result of needing bread for dinner.  I had a hunger for chicken seasoned with garlic, oregano, thyme, and s&p with a piece of provolone cheese melted on top, sandwiched between a baguette slathered with garlic basil mayo, tomato, and lettuce.  This was all in my head however; I still didn’t have any bread.


            So I removed the pate fermentee from the refrigerator and cut it into small bits to remove the chill.  I mixed together the flour, pate fermentee, salt, and yeast.  The water was added and I mixed everything into a coarse ball, and then poured the contents out onto the counter.  I worked the dough until it was smooth and silky tacky not sticky.  I wanted to experiment with higher hydration this go around, so I added an additional tablespoon or two of water to the dough.  In the future I will use warmer water because I have not been able to increase the internal temperature of the dough to around 80 degrees through kneading.


            The dough was put into a lightly oiled bowl and covered with plastic wrap.  My house is a chilly 62 degrees so I have to be creative with finding a warm place to let the dough rise.  I place the bowl on top of an electric heating pad set to low, turn on overhead heating lights, and plug in a space heater.  The thermometer in the room reads around 78 degrees with all of this extra heat.  I let the dough rise until doubled while stretching and folding every 30 minutes for the first hour and a half. 


            When I was satisfied with the dough 2.5 hours later, I removed the dough and scaled it down on the counter top.  Each scaled piece of dough weighed approx. 390 grams.  I let each scaled piece of dough rest for about 20 minutes and then formed each portion into a baguette utilizing the counter to create surface tension.  The baguettes were allowed to rise for about 45 minutes, then were scored, and baked.  The oven temp was 500 degrees for the first 2 minutes with steaming every 30 seconds of that period.  The temperature was lowered to 450 and the loaves were allowed to bake until golden brown and the internal temperature was 205ish. 


            The loaves were Fantastic for dinner tonight and I have decided to look into a job baking with a local bread company; I might as well considering I love making bread anyway.


The recipe for the main dough is as follows:


5oz unbleached AP

5oz bread flour

16oz pate fermentee

1½ teaspoons salt

¾ teaspoons active yeast

¾ cup water warm to touch plus a few tablespoons extra


That ever elusive crumb continues to fight me but i will not waiver I will not lose hope, I will continue baking baguettes.





mdunham21's picture

   I’ve been baking bread ever since I stumbled upon my grandfather’s recipe for buttermilk bread.  His bread was a basic loaf but it sparked my love for all things fermentable.  My love grew into brewing my own beer and baking bread was put on hold.  I graduated college in 2010 and finances have become tighter since leaving school.  It is more financially responsible to spend the money on baking bread than brewing suds.  Although I desperately miss the smells that come with brewing a batch of homebrew, the smell of freshly baked bread has been a welcome substitute. 


    Last weekend I made a pate fermentee with the intention of baking baguettes.  I made sure to take a portion of the dough and wrapped it tight for storage in the freezer.  Thursday of this week I was struck with the urge to bake once again and withdrew the pre-ferment from the freezer to the refrigerator.  I mixed up the dough on Friday and went through the motions of fermentation.  The dough was shaped and then prepared to spend the night in the refrigerator.  I wanted to develop a nice flavor profile so I retarded the dough over night and baked them today. 


I will be sure to keep this blog current with my baking adventures; will soon be moving into sourdough. 


Happy baking,




mdunham21's picture

Frozen Dough

January 13, 2011 - 6:52pm -- mdunham21

Last weekend I made some baguettes using a a pate fermentee.  I made the pre-ferment the night before and put it in the refrigerator over night.  the following day i mixed the dough and still had some pate fermentee left over.  I put it in a bowl and let it be while i tended to my dough.  After y main dough had risen i pulled off a little over a pound to use another time.  I froze both the dough and the pre-ferment and will be using them this weekend.  I have not worked with dough straight out of the freezer before and could use some guidance.




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