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What to do with week old preferment?

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Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

What to do with week old preferment?

I had planned to bake bread for New Year's Eve, and had saved about 200g of 65% hydration dough and 200g of 100% hydration AP, in separate containers, the day before.  But after slaving an entire afternoon stoking glowing charcoal for a side of pork roast, I was simply tapped out.. and with most everyone in the family having brought home bread for the Media Noche feast, baking some more became pointless.  So.. the preferments went into the fridge..


..and stayed there to this time.  And now, this is how they look.



The 65% hydration dough had risen some, settled, and had remained pretty much as the picture shows.. and exudes no off-smell.



The 100% hydration AP preferment had bubbled, risen and collapsed, and as days went by had increasing layer of clear/milky liquid (would that be hooch?) on top.  It doesn't smell bad.. maybe kinda "milky".. not alcoholic, nor acidic.


So could I still use them.. or should I toss 'em?

wally's picture
wally

I wouldn't use a week-old preferment unless I wanted to impart a lot of sourness into my finished product.  The whole point of preferment is to introduce flavor and if you're looking for sourness, why not just use a levain and be done with it.  As for the 100% hydration preferment, that is really a poolish which has overproofed.  Because of excessive enzymatic (protease) activity, it will actually destroy the gluten network of any dough you introduce it into.  So I would definitely toss that one.


The 65% hydration dough is a biga, and you can use it if you want, but again, you're introducing a very sour flavor into your dough.


So, your call.


Larry

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

Thank you for the simple straighforward answer.  It's quite useful information.


I just did not want to arbitrarily throw out anything that might still have some use or purpose.  I'd probably try out just how sour tasting bread the week-old biga would produce.. and dump the overproofed poolish as recommended.  50% recovery or salvage isn't bad.. :-D  And with gained knowledge from the experience, I'm off to a good start this year..  

manicbovine's picture
manicbovine

I don't think that either would be very good to use. It looks like the biga has broken down a little. I think there might be a gloppy, stringy  mess inside the blue bowl: biga soup. Even if I'm wrong, it probably won't taste very good.


The 100% AP pre-ferment is clearly no good. Toss it!


I've baked with similar things and the final bread went to waste. It had off-flavors and poor eating qualities.


Cheers.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

save a tablespoon from the bottom AP one and feed it.  I would chuck the rest into the compost.

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

I had meant to ask if it was possible to convert either the biga or the poolish into a starter.. and your answer beat posing the question.  Must be a good a time as any to venture into sourdough..  Thanks, Mini Oven.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you may ask yourself...   ...because of the hooch and the cheese smell.  It could be dead but, dead commercial yeast plus time equals good conditions for other yeast and bacteria growth which just might have gotten to work in there. 


Give the starter a chance and don't be too quick on discarding in the first two or three days unless it shows obvious growth.  Lets say mix the tablespoon with two tablespoons water and enough flour to make it toothpaste like (my favorite consistency) and see what happens.  Cover with plasic and rubber band, mark the level and put it in a warm spot. :)


The beasties are calling you!

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

..to convert the 100% hydration AP poolish into a starter.


Scooping into the stuff, I found it to be more of a rubbery gelatinous mass than a stirrable paste.  After more than a fair amount of stirring, it turned into flowing consistency.  A tablespoon of it was taken and mixed with 2 tablespoons each of flour and water to get the recommended toothpaste-like mixture.


The newly-fed AP poolish in its new container and Arabian headgear..



Now the vigil begins...

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote


The mixture showed some bubbling activity only a few hours after being fed last night.  Now, some 15 hours later, the container shows marks indicating a rise up to twice the original level.. and then a collapse.  There's a thin layer of clear hooch on top.. no strong smells, just a hint of milky sourness.  It lives!!?  


What now?  I feed it again later without discarding.. or schuck half? 


 

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote


So.. 24 hours after this process began, I went ahead and fed the would-be-starter with about 40g 100% water/flour.. without discarding. This raised the mixture level to twice as yesterday's initial.  Latest picture shows active bubbling and 50% rise, an hour after feeding.    

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

One hour is pretty darn fast.  Wonder how long it will take to fall into itself...?   At the next 12 hour interval... Save 20g and give 20g water and 40g of flour for the next 12 hours.  Continue with this type of feed every 12 hours and tell us also the temperature of the starter.  I hope you are taking notes recording smells, size of bubbles creamyness etc.  :)

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

For some reason, your reply did not flag in my e-mail and I missed reading about the feeding interval.  I had been feeding the would-be-starter a fixed amount (40g water + 40g flour) without discarding any - on 24-hour interval.  While I suppose this was initially fine during the first two days..


  


..by the 3rd day, the mixture exhibited vigorous activity for some hours but the rise hardly reached the expected double-volume.  



After reading a few other discussions on starter problems and the Yumarama blog,  I figured my mixture may be a little too watery (thus unable to hold the bubbles), and more importantly - I simply wasn't feeding it enough.  The starter mass had grown (due to not discarding) and whatever beasties were in there ate through the fixed amount of food in short order and produce only the corresponding amount of CO2.  No wonder the increment of rise was always the same after each feeding, regardless of the increasing starter mass.  In all that time, the smell had been consistently just slightly milky sour (kinda like when baby regurgitates..).


On Day 4, I decided on a 1:1:1 feeding ratio (by weight) at 12-hour intervals.  I cut back a little on the water during the initial feeding to firm up the starter, so it became a little harder to stir and looked a little shaggy after mixing.  I suppose it made a difference as the following rise was definitely higher.  Unfortunately, I had been unable to monitor when the rise peaked and collapsed.  By the time of following feeding, the mixture looked very bubbly, which stirred down into smooth creamy mass.  Again, the smell was just pleasantly sour.. but on Day6, I made the mistake of sniffing into the jar just as I uncapped it, and POOF! - strong vinegar smell shot straight up into my brain like a bullet!  Oh well,.. live and learn...




I have not been able to stick a thermometer to the starter.. but over the past few days, the air temperature in Manila ranged from 75 deg. to 81 deg. F.  The bottle of starter mixture has been kept inside my bread machine in the kitchen pantry which has consistently average temperature.