The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pate fermente for the rest of us

amolitor's picture

Pate fermente for the rest of us

As you probably know, there's a technique for improving bread which involves adding some quantity of "old dough" to the new dough. Some dough from the last batch, that's 6 or 12 or 4 hours old, or something. While this is great for commercial bakers, it's a little bit less great for the home baker. Here's what I've started doing:

Whenever I bake a yeasted more-or-less white bread, I save a 2 or 3 walnut sized balls of fully developed dough (just before shaping). I wrap these individually in a piece of plastic wrap suitable to cover my normal mixing bowl, and freeze them. Then, when I want to do some pate fermente action, I thaw a ball out the night before. I soak this dough in 1/4 cup or so of warm water to soften it up, and then mix in anough flour for a stiff dough (2/3 cup to 3/4 cup). Knead enough to mix the thawed old throughout. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap (which you can now use to cover the bowl for the entire batch of bread, see?) and let stand overnight.

If you want more "old dough" you can repeat the process, adding more water to your risen dough, and more flour, and let that rise.

You could do the same thing with yeast and so on, to make a new dough the night before, but I find this to be very convenient.