The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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proth5's picture

Monday 8:30 AM (Hey! This is like work!) saw a room full of bakers and imposters gathered to hear a lecture on commercially yeasted pre ferments from Didier Rosada and Jeffrey Yankellow.

I don't think it is fair, nor do I think it is possible for me to record the entire content of this two and a half hour lecture in this blog.  However, there are some highlights that bear reporting.

Mr. Rosada introduced a slide on the effects of fermentation and told the crowd that the mastery of this slide was the secret to great bread.  In short, fermentation produces CO2, alcohol, and acidity.  And he then told us in short the secret to great bread: "The secret is time."

Most home bakers are familiar with the principle of using pre ferments as a way to add flavor to our breads.  However pre ferments create acidity and also start some enzyme activity.  The acidity can add strength to a weak flour (up to a point) so a lower protein flour will perform like a higher protein flour.  Liquid pre ferments in particular favor "protease" activity which degrades the gluten somewhat and can add extensibility to the dough handling qualities.  In fact, a liquid pre ferment is the "classic" baguette pre ferment because a baguette must be rolled out and extensibility matters.

This really gave me something to think about.  For example, I have usually used a liquid pre ferment for my whole wheat loaves.  However, because it is home milled and because the wheat is usually freshly ground, I am essentially adding extensibility to what is already a somewhat weak flour.  It might be better to use a firm pre ferment and strengthen the dough a bit more.

While we're on that topic, there was discussion on the how the percent of the total flour in the formula that is pre fermented also can impact dough strength (more pre ferment making the dough more strong).  I've been yapping about the importance of this little variable on these pages, but it mostly gets ignored.  I knew it was important because I saw what changes in the percentage of flour pre fermented made in my own bread, but I didn't know exactly why.  This is Didier Rosada and Jeffery Yankelow (ok, I don't normally like to drop names, but this time I will) telling you folks - it matters.  A higher percentage of flour pre fermented will increase flavor, but have such a large impact on dough strength that the dough is impossible to shape. Something to consider in formula design.  I do think about these things from time to time.

Mr. Yankellow gave us a brief presentation on that most controversial of subjects - standard terms for various pre ferments.  I know that Humpty Dumpty is appalled by this whole idea, but I find it comforting to actually know what the person I am talking to means when s/he says "poolish" or "sponge."  Maybe it's just a limitation of my tiny mind.

Both of these gentlemen are advocates of salt in a poolish as it gives more control over when it will ripen and a longer "usability" window.  Using pre ferments - particularly poolish - at the right stage of ripeness was emphasized.

The lecture continued on with points that are more apropos for professional bakers than home bakers, but all in all it was still a very worthwhile session.

Then it was out to the exhibition floor.

I was immediately drawn to a robot bread scoring machine - which used a blade more closely resembling a tomato knife than anything else.

For the individual looking for a home deck oven (breadfairy!)  - well, this show really wasn't about home bakers.  I did encounter several "small" deck ovens being used in demonstration booths.  Miwe has the Gusto - which is a very small commercial convection oven, the Condo (small deck), and the Wenz 1919 - which they describe as a nostalgic deck oven.  The Bread Baker's Guild of America demonstration oven was a Matador (deck oven) designed for "in store" baking - which had the cutest little loader I have ever seen.  It is included with the oven, but I'll be doing research on buying one separately.  There must be some way to rig that thing for home ovens.  TMB baking was showing a TMB Mini Tube oven.  No one had printed collateral.  That's the best I could do.  You can type those names into your favorite search engine.

But while hanging about the combined TMB and SFBI (San Francisco Baking Institute) booth I did make quite a discovery.  SFBI is creating videos that demonstrate the making of every product in "Advanced Bread and Pastry".  They will be offering these as downloads with a projected subscription price of $60 per year.  Sooooo cool!  They scanned my badge so I will get an email when the product is finally released.  Wow.

The two or three people who actually read my blogs will know already that after getting a significant number of samples at the SFBI booth, I would be drawn like a moth to a flame to the Rondo booth where I could pine over a large variety of sheeters.

I then stopped by the booth of some kinda ingredient seller to find "my teacher" forming high hydration baguettes and batards.  Not only was it a joy to see those hands forming dough (and chat), but I found out that (shameless plug coming) The Bread Baker's Guild of America would be having a class in my very own Mile High City with "my teacher" at the helm.  So would make me want to join to get the announcement on that class (if I were not a member already.)  Wild dogs will not be able to keep me away.

Then on to North Dakota Mills to chat about how we home bakers might get some of these more specialized flours (no conclusion reached - go to the website and find a distributor was their suggestion) but mostly to score a plastic scraper.

I did drop by the Louis LeSaffre Cup where Teams Costa Rica, Argentina, and Brazil were baking, but my poor fragile feeties were beginning to hurt.  Reminding myself that this was indeed a vacation where I wanted to get rest and care for my rapidly aging body, I decided to go back to the hotel and rest.  Although I will not get to taste the offerings, they will be on display tomorrow.

All in all a good day at the show.  For me, to see "my teacher" made it the best of all possible days.

So I sit with my feet propped up waiting for a decent time to have a martoonie (of course, this is Las Vegas...) in anticipation of tomorrow's session on levain based pre ferments.  I can't decide if I am just pitiful or one very lucky gal.

Happy Baking!

davidg618's picture

Well, I tried it: two different starters, each handled to emphasize yeast activity in one, flavor production (sourness) in the second. I have three starters, all from commercial sources. Two were purchased online, the third came from a well-known bakery, with even more well-known bakers. I chose one of the online-sourced starters; it's been consistently more active (measured by proofing times, and oven-spring) than the other two, and I chose the bakery-one for its good, but not overwhelming, sourness. I maintain the first starter at 100% hydration, I keep the second one at 67% hydration. I built both formula-ready starters (450 g each) over a period of twenty-four hours tripling the seed-sarter mass 3 times, the beginning, and the end of the next two 8 hour periods, finishing with a formula-ready starter with a mass 27 time the original seed starter. I also adjust the hydration by 1/3 the difference between the seed-starters' hydration, and the target fornula-ready starters' hydrations at each build: 125%, and 60% respectively.

Bread Formula scaled to make 3, 1.5 lb. loaves.

Total starter weight: 900 g (450 each)

Total dough weight: 2250 g

Hydration: 67%

Flour:                              Baker's percentage:

AP flour in starters: 481g      36%

Whole Rye Flour: 225g          17%

All-purpose Flour 312g          23.5%

Bread Flour 312g                  23.5%

Salt: 27g                               2%

Water in starters: 419g

Water added        475g

All three loaves were baked, one at a time, under an aluminum foil cover, on a baking stone at 480°F, 10 minutes with steam. 15 additional minutes uncovered, without steam at 450°F. Reading from the top of the pile counterclockwise #1, #2 and #3; #2 was retarded for approximately 3-1/2 hour, and # 3 5 hours.

The bread has a taste more pronounced than previous sourdoughs I've made with one or the other starters, but that could be the extra rye flour. I made a mistake; I used 10% of the dough weight, rather than ten percent of the total flour weight to caculate the desired rye content. Despite the mistake, we love the flavor. I also experienced slightly less oven spring than usual, using only starter #1.

David G

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