The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Preferment: Would milk be OK?

Scott Grocer's picture
Scott Grocer

Preferment: Would milk be OK?

I've got a sandwich loaf recipe here that calls for a preferment that uses all of the water and a final dough that includes powdered milk, which I never have on hand.

The preferment is supposed to be very slack, batter like and fermented for up to 24 hours at room temp before use.

I know that the higher the hydration the faster a sponge develops, but would there be any obvious problem (enzyme action, black magic, bad juju?) using whole milk in the sponge instead of water and omitting the final dough's dry milk?


nicodvb's picture

without problems. I doubt there can be side effects, unless the temperature is very high. What I'm suspicous about is the duration of the preferment: 24 hours are *many*, generally my preferments last so long only when they have acidify a lot (rye breads).

Scott Grocer's picture
Scott Grocer

Yeah, I was thinking 24 hours was kind of a long time for such a wet preferment.

I'll probably take a chance with the milk and report back this weekend.


gary.turner's picture

My day to day white sandwich bread calls for a poolish using all the called for water, with dry milk (DMS) added to the final mix.  Like you, I usually use whole milk instead. Just remember that milk is about 12% milk solids and fat. The water content is only 88%, so the milk percentage must make allowances. Since the recipe calls for 65% water, I use .65÷.88=.74,  or 74% by weight of milk*, with no additional DMS.

I don't think I'd go 24 hours with the poolish unless I were inoculating with a fairly small amount of sourdough. With commercial yeast, I'd think 8-12 hours would be more than sufficient. I use lukewarm milk in the poolish which needs only about 1½ to 2 hours to become very active and ready to use.

When timing requires, I have cut the amount of yeast in half, used milk warmed only to room temperature, and allowed the poolish to mature overnight. The longer maturation seems to give me a more tender dough, that is it is more extensible, than the shorter time. Letting it go longer than 12 hours lends a definite souring. I don't think I'd go 24 hours using milk, except by accident. ;)



*Actually, I use a bit less, 72%, as 74% is bit stickier than I care to handle for a panned bread.

pmccool's picture

I'd probably include the salt for the formula with the preferment ingredients even if the formula didn't call for it.  That would help keep enzyme activity within acceptable limits.


Optionparty's picture

  I have read that Milk contains the enzyme protease, which inhibits gluten formation,
and yeast development, this is true of Powdered, Condensed, & Liquid milks.
Unless high temperatures are used.
Pasteurization doesn't reach temperatures sufficient to denature the enzyme,
Scalding milk does.

1. Stir while slowly heating milk to just under boiling. (198F) Don't boil.
2. Allow to cool. (~100F)
3. Skimming off the skin will result in a lighter, more tender bread.
Quick breads don't need this extra step, since gluten and yeast aren't used.

Cook's Illustrated (March 2004)
Pasteurized, homogenized fluid milk will produce a better volume loaf
if scalded to stop enzymatic action that affects gluten development and
decreases loaf volume. Scald, skim, and cool.

Scalding and skimming fluid milk OR the use of "high heat" nonfat dry milk
solids is recommended by professional bakers.
" Scalding breaks down a constituent in milk that can weaken gluten,
the protein in dough that gives bread its structure.
That milk protein is removed when the skin that forms on the scalded milk
is skimmed off and discarded."

Oregon State U. Food
Resource Web site.
Kitchen Notes, p30.