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

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

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

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

Arbyg's picture

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