The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how to use biga and poolish (preferment ratio agains the dough)

markie_oliver's picture
markie_oliver

how to use biga and poolish (preferment ratio agains the dough)

Hi folks!, I've been making loaves, for a few months already and I'm quite satisfied with my white bread so far(this is my way to start mastering the craft)although most of the people here are doing either whole wheat or multigrain with their formulas. My question is I would like to make a big batch of biga or poolish then retard them for future use but I don't know how to compute the ratio against the dough eg: let say i would like to use 500 grams flour as base for the dough so how many percent of biga or poolish should i use. I bet big bakeries have their pre ferments always available for their everyday use.  I hope my question does make sense and thanks for considering it. your help wil be highly appreciated.

proth5's picture
proth5

The best way to think about this is to think in terms of the percent of the total flour in the formula to be prefermented.


So if I am making a recipe that uses 500 gms of flour (total) and I want to pre ferment 20% of my flour and I want to use a pre ferment that is at 100% hydration (equal weights of flour and water in the pre ferment), I would calculate the following.


Wt of flour in the preferment  = 500 * .2 = 100gms (leaving 400 gms for the final mix)


Total weight of the pre ferment = 100 gms (weight of flour) + (100 gms (weight of flour)* 1.00 (hydration percentage)) = 200 gms


You will also need to adjust the weight of water in your final mix to account for the water in the preferment.


You can also use the above formulas for what is called a biga (usually 60% hydration or so).


A good middle ground for % of flour pre fermented is 30%.  I have seen it as low at 10% and as high as 50%.  These differing percentages will bring different qualities to the finished product.


I, personally, don't understand preparing pre ferments in advance (they are simplicity itself to mix up the evening before in my opinion), but many people do it with success.


Hope this helps.

markie_oliver's picture
markie_oliver

wow thanks for the reply, so it seems like the way when im making a sponge ang dough method although the it is most of the time 60% for the sponge and 40 for the dough. I'll try to use the figures you told me and upload a photograph of the final product (i hope its gonna turn out really good) thanks again

teteaupain's picture
teteaupain

I've been in the bread business for the better part of four decades and I've yet to see anyone make yeast-based pre-ferments more than a day in advance of using them.  While it might make sense for a bakery to retard a nearly-ripe sponge for a few hours or overnight to hold it in close-to-ideal condition and (perhaps) to develop flavor, storing a sponge for much longer than that can cause problems as the dough begins to degrade.  And, yes, it is so simple to prepare a sponge that night before you want to mix your final dough.  

Arbyg's picture
Arbyg

Well,
There is always an exception to the rule. On Friday I was finished baking at 6:00pm. I began my preferments for Sunday shortly after. I had to make sure my biga and sour starter would not over ferment otherwise bread would be no good. I use to go in on Sat but a full day off became desired. As long as you learn to manipulate and adapt formulas I've seen just about everything possible with bread. Of course a 12-18 hour starter is preferred for optimal performance , I'll take my 36 hour preferments all day long for a day off.

markie_oliver's picture
markie_oliver

well thank you very much for the reply, but im just wondering about what peter reinhart said on his book that you can strore you pre ferment for 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. im yet to do a biga based product and see what will be the difference against my 1 day white bread formula. again thanks for shedding some light

joeflash1063's picture
joeflash1063

thanks for the great info folks. i am thinking about using a pooilsh in my bagels to increase flavor. i am doing commercial batches (50lbs of flour). i normally use a percentage of cake yeast.


-do you add any yeast when making the poolish or is it just the flour water %?


-do i keep the same percent of yeast in my recipe when incorporating a poolish?


 


thanks


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I can only give simple answers...yes, a small amount of yeast is added to a poolish and you will need to reduce the yeast % in the recipe.  I'm hoping my subject title will get more specific help.  :)

Arbyg's picture
Arbyg

Hello there,
You have many variables for cake yeast % for 50# flour.
Standard 77 degrees for 10-12 hours about 2 -3 ounces yeast
Depending on fermentation time and temp you will have to adjust yeast
Try with 2 ounce first mix with water, it's better to have a slightly young poolish then over fermented dough will be useless and yeasty
Good luck ! And remember document your variables water temp, room temp, yeast amount and on a matter of days you should have the perfect amount

teteaupain's picture
teteaupain

Didier Rosada, while teaching at SFBI, gave the following dosages (these %s are for instant dry yeast; triple for fresh cake yeast) for yeast-based preferments (biga and poolish):  If you are mixing your sponge 3 hours before use, use 0.5% by weight of the flour in the sponge; 6-8 hours, 0.2%; 12-15 hours 0.03%.  More recent formulas, published in SFBI's great book, Advanced Bread and Pastry, advise 0.1% for 12-15 hours.  


 


In your final dough, use the same percentage as always, but compute based on the unfermented flour in your final dough.  If 30% of your flour is in your sponge, that leaves 70% in the final dough.  If your normal batch is 55 pounds of flour, that would leave 38.5 pounds of new flour in your final dough.  If your normal dosage rate is 1% fresh cake yeast you would use 0.385 pound of the same yeast in the final dough.  


 


This is assuming mid-70s ambient temperature.


 


teteaupain

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Hmm, I think I know you :-)


This is exactly the information I am looking for today. Are the percentages the same for whole wheat preferments?


Thanks a bunch!
-dw

teteaupain's picture
teteaupain

Yep, same old teteaupain, Debra, and ,yes, pretty much the same yeast dosasge, though maybe a little less for whole grain -- or slightly lower temps or shorter times, due to the slightly higher fermentability of whole grain doughs.  If the preferment goes too long with whole wheat flour, it can develop some off-aromas, especially with high hydration.  


I'm teaching a class on whole grain hearth breads at our local natural foods coop market later this week, so am working on a whole wheat honey bread with 30% sponge.  I haven't made it in quite a while, so am testing it the next couple of days.


 


 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

It's very nice to have you here---your post is especially timely for me, because I was working on a whole grain sandwich loaf formula yesterday, and was lost in trying to decide how much flour and yeast to use in the preferment. I probably used too much of both, but I parked it in the fridge overnight. Fortunately, it had a nice fragrance and wasn't collapsed in the morning.


I'm using 75% whole wheat flour and 25% rolled oats as the base for this bread, with the oats going into a soaker. My next question is, how much (is there a suggested range?) of the whole wheat flour should I pre-ferment, and do I gauge the amount from just the flour weight, or from the total weight (including the oats)?


Thanks again for your guidance,
Debbie