The Fresh Loaf

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Bytchy's Wet Preferment

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MrBytchy's picture
MrBytchy

Bytchy's Wet Preferment

I'm new to TFL and would appreciate  some feedback on my 'wet preferment'.  After some research I discovered that yeast is its most regenerative after about 2 hours of activation. Later I pondered the reasons for a preferment and considered, why limit the yeast from its full potential.  This being the case I have made several batches of bread using a ‘wet preferment’.  I mix the sugar I intend to use (for a 900g flour dough I use upwards of 100g of sugar) in all the water I will use (550ml). I do this with boiling hot water in a large basin. When it has cooled to body heat I add 25g of dried yeast, whisk and wait 5 or 10 minutes.  Then I add 200g of flour , whisk again and cover tightly with film.  The result is a great deal of activity.  I leave this for at least 2 hours, then I put the rest of my flour (700g) and salt into the basin to make my dough.  My bread comes out with medium sized cells and very light.

Is this a new concept or have I just stumbled onto an ancient recipe? Please let me have your comments.

Bytchy.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,

Welcome to TFL.

The technique you describe is sometimes called "Flying Sponge" although it has other names.

In the German tradition it is often used for enriched breads, to get yeast activity to the maximum.

Usually they use all the water required, plus the same weight of flour, plus all the yeast required.

Other preferments have a different aim - Poolish, fore example, uses very little yeast, and part of the desired effect is a high enzyme activity (therefore the long fermentation period before use), which in turn effects dough structure and breakdown of starch into sugar.

Juergen

MrBytchy's picture
MrBytchy

Thanks for your comment Juergen,

As you mention, most of the flying sponge recipes use 50/50 water and flour and are used for traditional or enriched breads.  My wet sponge is 36% flour giving a milkshake consistancy. It is very active and I leave it for a minimum of two hours.

I would appreciate your advice on crust.  When my bread comes out of the oven it has a perfect crust, but this will only last for a few hours then it becomes soft. What can I do to fix this?

Bytchy

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

I have a fairly basic oven (fan only), and I have a feeling that I can't get sufficient initial heat.

Someone said recently in a post (I think it was jicking): Temperature sets the crust, time sets the crumb ...

Others - with more sophisticated equipment - might be in a better position to help.

With regards to the sponge hydration - the 100% is usual, but I have seen recipes with great variations -

e.g. the bread recipes in "Norddeutsche Küche und Westfalenkost", Agnes Brirup-Lindeman (1922, 3rd ed. 1997)

The standard procedure for making the flying sponge (here called "Hefestück") is: Put all the flour in the bowl, make a well, pour in the warm yeast/milk mixture (and a little sugar) and stir in some flour. Let sit for 1-2 hours.

Not very precise, I know. But I got some great Zwieback out of this book.

Have you seen the recent posts on this thread?

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25709/effects-sugar-and-fat-fermentation

Cheers,

Juergen

MrBytchy's picture
MrBytchy

Juergen,

I am inspired by your comments and suggestions. My next bake, tomorrow, I am going to make a 50/50 preferment with a little salt. About an hour in, I will Autolyse the balance of my flour and water, but add the rest of the salt per the link you gave me.  I am excited to see how it turns out.  ( I will also put a small amout of rye with the Canadian flour that I use).

As for the crust. I put a shallow pan in the bottom of my simple gas oven while it is preheating. When I put the bread in the oven I pour boiling water into the pan.  It immediately makes a lot of steam.  I always get a great crust when the bread comes out.  Its just the next morning its gone soft on me.

Bytchy.

MrBytchy's picture
MrBytchy

Juergen,

I tried your suggestions and the end result was quite good. 

The preferment seemed a little slow at first, but after about 3 hours it was a nice thick creamy sponge. I had a problem, because I left the flour salt and water autolysing too long. I had to go out and by the time I got back it had been about 2 hours or so. The flour turned into a solid mass which took me a long time to knead into the preferment. Here is the result.

 

Ingredients:

Preferment;

200ml water

200g White Manitoba Flour

100g sugar

25g Yeast

5 g salt

Autolyse;

610g White Flour

90g Rye Flour

300ml Water

20g Salt

Misc: Poppy seeds, egg wash, smidgen Olive oil in rising dishes

Bytchy

 

 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Bytchy,

It is always good to see photos of the finished product; nice bake.

To understand your formula a bit better at a glance I put into bakers %:

Preferment  
High Gluten Flour20022.22%
Water20022.22%
Sugar10011.11%
Yeast (Inst)252.78%
Salt50.56%
Yield53058.89%
   
Dough  
White flour61067.78%
Rye9010.00%
Water30033.33%
Salt202.22%
Preferment53058.89%
Yield1550172.22%
   
Straight  
High Gluten Flour20022.22%
White flour61067.78%
Rye9010.00%
Sugar10011.11%
Water50055.56%
Yeast (Inst)252.78%
Salt252.78%
Yield1550

172.22%

A few things caught my eye (I hope you don't mind me commenting on them):

1. Sugar content: Usually breads which that kind of sugar content also use some amount of shortening (butter, lard, oil etc), just using sugar is quite unusual, I think. But then my favourites are lean breads.

2. Yeast content: The yeast content of 2.78% instant yeast is very high - this would amount to about 8% fresh yeast.

3. Hydration: The hydration is quite low at 55% overall. Bloomer and Bara Brith are examples for breads with similar hydrations (around 60%).

Can you describe the taste of your bread? Is it what you want?

Two things make me most excited when I bake bread:

1. Achieving to bake the same great bread over and over again

2. Having an idea about texture, taste etc and being able to create the real thing by slightly modifying a known formula.

I feel well at home with my Detmolder Ryes (Excitement 1), but when (2) happens, it's just great. More often it opens a can of worms... (Then I will have things I have to eat myself!)

I have some ideas, but have to think them over a bit more.

Happy experimenting,

Juergen

 

 

 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

It seems the conventional wisdom is longer slower fermentations lead to more flavor (and more comfortable digestion:-). That seems to be the motivation behind techniques like retarding the bulk rise in the refrigerator and starting pre-ferments a day or more ahead of time. Your results sound quick and simple, and look really great  ...but how do they taste (something that doesn't come through in pictures)? Maybe the stragtegy of shooting purely for peak yeast activity won't turn out to be the best way of reaching an appropriate "tradeoff" between simplicity and flavor. I'm always trying to find a better balance point, and wonder if you have anything to report in that regard?

 

MrBytchy's picture
MrBytchy

Juergen,

Thanks for going to all the trouble of calculating the percentages. By the way all the white flour I use is Manitoba (16kg bag from Costco) Just lazy typing on my part. I don't have a source of any sexy ryes like you use, mine is just ASDA (Wallmart). Can you please explain the significance of your figures to a poor novice?

I use so much sugar because my partner, May, is from Taiwan and she likes bread to be sweet and complains if I use too much salt, however the flavour is not very sweet.

This last batch tastes quite good. this according to my son and May, though the texture is chewy compared to anything I have baked previously. I wonder if this is due to the autolysing.  I did leave it too long. In fact I almost threw it away as it was very solid and required a lot of kneading to take the lumps out.  

I did like the preferment and I will try the same formula agian with a half hour autolosyse (hmmm).

I an not entirely happy with the cellular consistancy. If you look at the cut slice the holes are smaller at the bottom. Maybe you have some advice about this.  Any suggestions will be well received. I will be baking again tomorrow. I will let you know.

Bytchy

MrBytchy's picture
MrBytchy

Hi Chuck,

I am interested in your point. My inexperienced palate (unfortunately the only part of my body which is inexperienced) finds the flavour to be quite good. I prefer the loaves with poppy seeds as they add a slightly nut like flavour. Also I mostly eat bread toasted, perhaps that defeats the point for a true connoisseur. When I first started to bake bread, about three months ago, I grew wild yeast from raisins and corriander from my garden (not the raisins). The resulting bread had a different flavour, something closer to sourdough and at first I didn't use a preferment.  Then I found an article that described the biga idea and I baked a batch with a biga that I kept for about 12 hours.  Frankly I think the flavour I get now is stronger and better.  Perhaps its the sugar, I will be interested to see what Juergen has to say.  Please give me details of your favourite recipe, so I can give it a try.

Bytchy

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I wonder if something like this: http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/2009/10/tangzhong-or-water-roux-method.html will work for your family? (disclaimer: I haven't tried this myself yet). It's supposed to be both very springy and soft, and sweeter tasting but without using as much sugar. It looks like you can take the parts you want from this recipe and leave the rest (for example you might prefer not to bake in Pullman pans).

(The "wild yeast"/"commercial yeast" differentiation seems to be the first major division of the bread world; "wild yeast" will give you flavors and enable techniques for which there's just plain no real analogue in the "commercial yeast" world. Some find caring for their starter and waiting longer for their dough to rise to be significant problems; others find the tradeoff to be most definitely worthwhile as it opens up flavors and techniques.

"Wild yeast" flavor will vary a bit from one person to the next -perhaps mostly influenced over the long term by the kind of flour they use for feeding. What you can say in general though is that "wild yeast" -or "sourdough"- is not necessarily sour, often not even a little bit; that's a misunderstanding -obvious enough given the name "sourdough"- that may be the most important thing holding back the spread of sourdough techniques.)

The amount of salt in a bread recipe frequently has to be adjusted up or down a little to suit taste. Adjusting it is very common, and has very little effect on the procedure. Do try to measure the amount of salt by weight (i.e. grams), as different salts have different size crystals so a volume measure of salt may be very different from what the recipe writer intended. Either too much or too little salt can wreck a loaf  ...but there's no reason the second loaf has to have the same problem.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Bytchy,

So you are baking for 3 months now – I am amazed about the bread you produce and your thoughts that go with it.

Chuck makes some good points about fast fermentation vs. taste and digestability, and about salt.

I hope to be able to satisfy your curiosity with a few thoughts and answers to your questions (I'll put all the links at the bottom of the comment) :

  1. Baker's Percent – it's the tool of the trade. All ingredient amounts are given as a percentage relative to the total flour weight. A simple French dough might be written as: Flour 100%, Water 70%, Salt 2%, Instant Yeast 0.3%, Yield 172.3%. If you want to use 1kg of flour you get: Flour 1Kg, Water 700g, Salt 20g, Instant yeast 3g, yield 1.723Kg. If you want to make 1kg of dough you calculate: Ingredient Amount = (Ingredient% * 1Kg) / Yield% which results in: Flour 580g, Water 406g, Salt 11.6g, Instant yeast 1.7g. Do you get the idea? The straight dough is the recipe with all ingredients listed (not split into preferment etc.). This is most useful to check if the recipe is balanced, meaning that water level, salt and yeast amounts make sense. Salt should be around 2% as a guideline. (Percentages for Preferments can be given as % relative to the total flour as I did above, or as % relative to the pre-ferment, as in DiMuzio's book)

  2. Flours: I think Manitoba is a high gluten flour which is usually used as an addition to enriched doughs (lots of sugar and fat), or if your basic flour has not enough gluten. It would account for some of the chewiness. Lots of millers do mail order. I use Shipton Mill flours, they deliver for free for orders above £25. I think their “No 1 Baker's Finest” would be just right for what you aspire. In general look for “strong” flour rather than “extra strong”. I think Asda stocks some of Dove's Farm speciality flours – their rye is very nice.

  3. Yeast: Too much yeast can dominate the flavour and impact on the keeping quality. One reason to introduce preferments was reducing the yeast amount (yeast was also an expensive ingredient). You should be fine if you use just 7g of instant yeast in your formula (900g of flour). See also Chuck's comments.

  4. Other recipes: My wife lived in Japan for a while and is craving for that sort of soft sweet bread. Occasionally I made Hokkaido Milky Bread, which seems to be hitting the spot. It uses tangzhong starter, the method Chuck mentions. Also check out the Appendix Of Formulas from Daniel DiMuzio's book – I recently made the Sweet Challah – delicious. There are other great non-sourdough recipes in there which I tried and can recommend: Pain de Campagne, Pan Pugliese, baguettes … I also saw you tried raisin yeast water – I made some great Pugliese using it, and there is quite a lot of stuff about fruit yeasts on this site (search for Raisin Yeast)

  5. When to add ingredients: Sugar attracts a lot of water – which would better be available to the yeast and for gluten formation. Try adding only a small amount of sugar to the preferment, and the rest during kneading, once some of the gluten has formed. This should have some impact on the crumb.

  6. Autolyse: cuts down kneading time because the gluten develops by itself. That means you can actually overdo it. If the dough gets too stiff let it rest for 10 minutes and then continue. Don't tear the dough.

  7. Hydration: Try something like 65% and see what this does to your crumb.

  8. Taste: With your bread your palate will change.

 

If you take notes of your variations and note them in Bakers% you very quickly develop an eye for ingredient relations, and you can get an idea of the outcome by just looking at the numbers.

 

Enough for now,

Juergen.

Links:

DiMuzio's Appendix Of Formulas

http://bcs.wiley.com/he-bcs/Books?action=resource&bcsId=5055&itemId=0470138823&resourceId=17232

Hokkaido Milky Bread

http://www.schneiderchen.de/466Hokkaido-Milky-Loaf-2.html

Manitoba flour

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23957/my-first-manitoba-flour-has-arrived

Shipton Mill

http://www.shipton-mill.com