The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How best to mix pre-ferment throughout dough

scloughley's picture

How best to mix pre-ferment throughout dough

Hi there

I have a great baguette recipe but I struggle with ensuring that the pre-ferment that I've prepared the night before gets evenly distributed through the dough.  It's a tricky problem, since you're trying to blend a soft gooey mixture through a new batch of flour, yeast, salt and water.

Anyone got any tips?  Common sense tells me to make up the fresh four/yeast/salt first, blend thoroughly, and then add the pre-ferment before adding the warm water.  I've also reversed the adding of warm water and pre-ferment.  In both cases, the resulting mass is susceptible to have lumps.  I have tried the dough hook but it doesn't seem to get the job done.

wally's picture

If you're using a poolish, you should be able to add that to your bowl, then add water, and finally the flour, yeast and salt and mix using a dough hook without problem.

If you're using a biga, which is a much firmer preferment, the usual method of incorporating it (when using a mixer) is to start the mix, and then cut off chunks of the biga and add them to the dough as it is coming together.

Hope that helps!


Edthebread's picture

When I went on a bread baking course at King Arthur, they advised the best approach was to take the preferment, add all the water, and about 40% of the flour then mix them by squeezing them through your fingers, until it was homogeneous.  Then you add the remaining flour to get it up to the correct level of hydration.  It seemed to work pretty well.  This would also work well in a mixer I think.

proth5's picture

(and I mix by hand most of the time, but this wokrs with a dough hook) is to mix the flour/salt/yeast together in the bowl)and then make a shallow well, dump in the liquid pre ferment and than add the water.

I smursh (this is a technical term) the pre ferment around in the water  to dissolve it a bit and then procede to the mix.  I have never had a problem getting the pre ferment incorportated.

This, of course, assumes a liquid pre ferment - which best fits your description.

Hope this helps.

scloughley's picture

Thanks to you all.  Most helpful.