The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ripeness of sponge

Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

Ripeness of sponge

A question regarding the smell of a ripe sponge as an indicator of ripeness or indeed or over-ripeness.

If I get a strong smell of alcohol from my sponge, what does this suggest? that the sponge will have too much protease activity? OR is this a good time to use the sponge?

Many thanks

Matt

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A strong smell of alcohol does not tell me much because opinion and noses vary.  More detail please.  :)

Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

Mini, I let my sponge (DDT of 21C) sit at room temperature for 12 hours, with 0.2% fresh yeast. When I remove the cover from the bowl containing the sponge, I get a strong smell of alcohol. The sponge itself looks as if it has fallen back, plenty of air bubbles on the surface.

I used the sponge at 50% total prefermented flour in a basic white tinned loaf, bulk fermented for 1 hour at 25C. The end result was poor, very weak dough indeed, hence why I say maybe too much protease activity?

Many thanks

Matt

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Matt,

Strong alcohol is normal for fully, or over-mature pre-ferments. A pre-ferment is mature just as it starts to fall or flatten. It takes experience to catch it at just the right time, although being over-mature isn't that big of an issue, especially in yeasted pre-ferments. Depending on the pre-ferment choice and quality of the flour, too much protease activity may be an issue. Different flours can handle different degrees of fermentation...

I would recommend using a biga pre-ferment instead. It's drier consitency limits protease considerably.

Have a look at this article all about pre- ferments. http://www.bakerconnection.com/artisanbaker/article_04.htm

Michael