The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pre-ferments with other grains

paulo's picture

Pre-ferments with other grains

Hi folks,

It's my first post here on thefreshloaf although I've been following it for quite a while and using it as a complement to the other bread books I have at home.

I've search all over DiMuzio, Hamelman, Reinhart, Leader and even Harold Mcgee and was not able to find an answer to my question regarding using pre-ferments based on grains other than wheat or rye.

Here's the deal. I'm Portuguese and I want to bake portuguese Broa de Milho which is a corn bread with only corn (80%) and rye flour (20%). On most of the recipes a sort of pre-ferment (old dough - patê fermenté)  is used, usually in very small percentages (like 0,01% pre-fermented flour.. which sounds awfuly little).

I was thinking about increasing the amount of pre-fermented flour to somewhere around 11% just to test it and what I wonder is... can I use other types of grains to create a pate fermente? The ideia would be to add a mostly corn flour and then a bit of rye. I believe the ideia behind this pre-ferment is not so much the leavening (it's a sort of flat bread... kind of like a miche) but the enhancement of flavour through organic acids, so i'm thinking about doing a pre-ferment with instant yeast (not a sourdough starter).

Here's the formula I'm thinking about:

Corn Flour 80%

Rye 20%

Salt 2%

Water 60%

Pre-fermented flour 11%

It's quite a different bread than the one I usually do, specially because the corn flour is scalded in order to absorb water better and I have no experience with breads with so little gluten.

The gluten is probably next to non-existant in this kind of bread and is simply shaped by flouring a bowl, adding a piece of tacky dough into it and casting the dough onto the air until you arrive at a roundish shape (you can see what i mean here). No proofing is required.

The produced loafs look like this and have this wonderful sweet flavour...

On another ntoe, how much yeast (instant) do you think I should add to the poolish?





nicodvb's picture

it should work, why not? We change grains all the times, it shouldn't make a difference. Rather, I wonder what's the use of yeasts: that bread won't rise anyway.

paulo's picture

Good point. I guess it's just the "stick to the recipe" follower in me, or there's something chemicaly going on between yeast and bacterias. Maybe the bacterias rely on some by-products of the yeast? Who knows.

There's a moderate 'oven spring' that cause the crust to beautifully crackle, so I guess a tiny percentage of yeast will help?

But great, I'll test it and will come back with the results.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

because those finished loaves did inflate.  Interesting how she flips the bread over using the peel.  Like it shouldn't touch the oven floor or walls.  Big wooden box for mixing with lid.  Handy.

I looked thru the first 4 videos.  From grain to miller (1/5) and back to kitchen.  Not sure of the yeast mixture what kind of yeast is used.  Does she say?

So she makes a preferment (2/5) with corn and warm water with watery softed yeast liquid.  Covers it and closes the lid.  Returns to move the preferment to a bowl and covers with a cloth.  Then she sieves the corn meal, adds salt and pours very hot water over it and stirs with a wooden spoon.  The mixture looks rather dry.  Lots of steam rising from the flour.  She then makes a fire in the oven (3/5) while the flour absorbes the water and cools a bit.  Comes back to the wet corn flour and stirs it, spreads it out, then sieves rye flour over it.    Looks like more than 20% rye to me.  Stirs and adds cooled warm water.  Still looks too hot (steam) because she prefers the spoon to stir.  Plays with the fire and returns to add bowl of preferment and starts hand mixing the flour moving it from one side of the box to the other.  Looks very hydrated and she smooths the top with warm water, covering with a cloth or two and resting under the sign of the cross.   

(4/5) is the shaping and putting the bread into the oven

Would be interesting with a starter.  The timing here looks to be about two hours from mixing the preferment to the finished dough going into the oven.  Instant yeast?

I am actually looking for non-wheat recipes.  Thank you!

paulo's picture

She does say that she creates a leavener by using a piece of old dough and mixing new flour and water. Why does she have the piece of old dough in water? Beats me. She does mention that she leaves the 'leavener' to leaven around 5h.

I do think she says that about 1h is enough for fermentation.

Think you're right about the rye flour, i would guess maybe 1/3 rye 2/3 cornmeal, although in some parts of the country they do it only with cornmeal.

I tried the recipe with a 60% hydration although i think that the right amount should be around 65-70%, since the cornmeal absorves quite a bit. It came out very flat and it would crumble easily when i was trying to shape it using a wooden bowl and throwing it in the air. I actually used sort of a stiff levain and it did raise a bit after 1h (kept it near the heater.. freezing cold here in Sweden now). Another thing that I found is that it's hard to shape a 500g loaf this way.. it will always come out of flat. I would suggest trying something like 1kg total weight.

Love the whole movie, glad that you saw it. Puts me to shame when I use my scales, measures, temperatures, etc. Wonderful to see the religious meaning of making the bread, did you notice she makes a big cross on the bread and says a prayer before leaving it to ferment? I believe the prayer begs some saint to leaven the bread well. Ah.. bread baking is wonderful.