The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

OK to blend pâte fermentée into liquid before combining w/dry ingredients?

foodslut's picture

OK to blend pâte fermentée into liquid before combining w/dry ingredients?

Just picked up Hamelman's "Bread" for the first time in a while, and notice he uses a LOT of preferment in his formulas. I want to crank up the amount I use (right now, I tend to use between 15 and 25% of flour weight), but I have a pretty specific question. To make things easier as I mix by hand using a dough whisk, before I add the liquid ingredients to my flour et. al., I add the pâte fermentée to the water/liquid ingredients, and mix it into a uniform solution using an immersion "stick" blender. Since I'm adding the pre-ferment for flavour, I'm guessing it shouldn't affect those elements that add flavour - does anyone know different? Thanks!

Ruralidle's picture


I think that it is quite usual to incorporate a starter or pâte fermentée into the liquid ingredients but maybe an immersion stick blender is a bit over the top.  It doesn't mix as much as pulverise or liquidise.  I would use the mixer paddle (if you have a mixer) until the mixture was so thick that it required a dough hook.

foodslut's picture

The reason I blenderize the old dough into the liquid is to ensure uniform spreading through the new dough.

I don't have a stand mixer, I use a dough whisk by hand, hence the blenderization solution.

I guess I worry about how uniformly I'd end up spreading chunks of old dough through a mix by hand - should I worry that much if I end up with pockets o' pâte fermentée through my mix?

Chuck's picture

Sharing your fears about incomplete mixing and chunks of pre-ferment, I was very dubious about a recipe that just called for tearing the pre-ferment up into small chunks. But I tried it anyway (the chunks were about 3/8 x 3/8 x 1 inch). It turned out to work fine. By the time the wet and dry were thoroughly mixed and the the dough had undergone a few S&F cycles, the pre-ferment blended in so thoroughly there was no issue at all with chunks of pre-ferment remaining throughout the dough.

I fear that being too vigorous about dissolving a pre-ferment will break up the gluten strands it contains, so that pre-ferment adds only flavor but not structure. But making a firmer structure is often one of the motivations for using a pre-ferment.

foodslut's picture

Thanks for the reminder, Chuck - will try a version with little chunks (I tend to cut it using scissors from a container I keep in the fridge) instead of blenderized to compare/contrast.

Thanks, also, to everyone who offered up some info/opinions - much appreciated!

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...and I've mixed it in with the water and I've cut it into chunks with the new dough.   While I can't quantify the difference (I don't think there is a great deal), I have settled on making the new dough and kneading it a minute or two.  I then add the chunks of old dough.  I'll knead for 3 minutes to thorough blend the doughs and then follow with stretch and folds for further strengthening. 


jcking's picture

Mix the new dough portion, 1 ~ 2 mins, then remove it from bowl and place on counter (autolyse is optional at this point). Flatten the new mix and lay the old dough/pre-ferment atop and flatten (this is when I add the salt). Stretch and fold the two together a few times then with a bench knife, cut this mixture into 3" chunks and finish kneading.


tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

Take your the water and dough in chunks and put them in a container with a tight lid and shake em up.