The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with making a ferment

Spattznatt's picture

Help with making a ferment

Hello everyone,


I am semi amatur-beginner bread baker that has been trying out new recipes and techniques. I have been baking quick breads from the Joy of Cooking for a number of years but I received Dough by Richard Bertinet about a year ago. This was my first venture into more french/artisan bread baking. Just this last weekend I bought a scale to help with measurements given that weight is the preferred measure in the book. That appeared to help with some of the moisture difficulties I was experiencing. I will say that even with all my changes the crumb is still small and at times soft. But that is a different problem.


Typically I bake about 4 loaves of bread one day a weekend. This is a significant time commitment no doubt. Therefore, I thought I would try a ferment as my initial understanding was that I could just feed and bake. However, I am not so sure now. In the book Dough, The recommendation is to hold 7 oz of dough back and store in the fridge. Then you feed it 14 oz flour and 7 oz of water. Mix until it is a firm dough and store. Continue until you want to use it. "Then you can add it to your next batch of dough to enhance it..."


May questions are:

1. To use a ferment I have to make a batch of dough the "normal" way and just add it? I cannot just feed and use the larger amount?

2.When I tried to feed my first ferment I found that the amount of flour was huge. I could not get it all worked in. About 1/2 cup was not used. Does the intructions about sound right?

3.Is there a way to make a "quick start" bread that I could keep some in the fridge and when I want to make a loaf, then add some ingredients and go?

4.Any other help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


Thank you,


Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Just use the search function and look up sourdough starters. There's a boat load of information in the archives that will answer a large part of your question. You can also research poolish, biga, pre-ferment, and levain too.

While that may be overwhelming at times, most of the threads have information written by people that really love baking bread and it gets only as technical as needed.

It's an education and entertainment rolled into one.