The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Preferment's optimum length of time.

OCO's picture
OCO

Preferment's optimum length of time.

Given preferment is a good thing in bread baking.

Regardless of type they all seem to achieve these three basic functions;

1) Activate yeast 

2) Flavor development 

3) Dough development 

But like everything in this world it can ony go so far before the laws of deminishing returns sets in. In other words additional length of time does not significantly influence any of above 3 once gone beyond certain amount of time. 

Meaning how much time does a preferment need before the benefits of the preferm can only be measured by a machine. 

Lets  say one were to setup a preferment for 10 hours, is 6 hours the optimum and the additional 4 hours "for good measure"?

Can one really tell the difference between a mature preferment at 6, 10, 12, 24 hours given the necessary yeast and temperature adjustments necessary to archive required ripeness at those hours or is it only measurable by machines?

Appreciate all inputs

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

One you can use to make rye bread is just rye flour and water and let it sit for 3-4 days.  The SD one I use for panettone also takes 3 days.  Others take from 8-24 hours depending on the recipe,  

BobS's picture
BobS

One way to answer your question is simply to do the experiment you purpose and see it you can tell the difference - assuming, of course, that you're not a machine :-)

A lot of the fun in baking, for me anyway, is sorting out how things work in my kitchen. 

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

If you are asking about a single wheat flour preferment over a length of time at a constant temperature, the thing that I usually notice is the loss of gluten strength due to protease action on the proteins.  Proteases are enzymes that break down proteins and are found in the flour, in yeast and in the bacteria if you have a sourdough starter.  As the proteases break down glutens, the ability to form a network and hold a shape diminishes.  I think this can be used to advantage if you are looking for an extensible dough (such as pizza) where the ability to stretch it is arguably more important than holding a lot of air. But if you are baking breads I think you'll find the loaves you are making become flatter with the older preferments, all else being equal. I agree with BobS that it's a pretty simple experiment.

-Brad

OCO's picture
OCO

Let me start of by thanking everyone that contributed and especially Brad that led me to the discovery of this pdf that really shed light on the questions I had asked.

 http://www.lallemand.com/BakerYeastNA/eng/PDFs/LBU%20PDF%20FILES/1_11PREF.PDF So far these are my conclusions:Preferments are tools! Tools to achieve yeas activation, flavor introduction, dough development and both time plus cost savings on a bakery production line.Preferments are about hydration. There are preferments that use water, yeast and little yeast food- sugarTo apply baker's percentage to preferments I think water should be 100% and the rest will be off that. The ratio of flour to water (which is 100%) is what makes a stiff or batter preferment as in biga and poolish. I will stretch my neck out this far saying the discovery and usage of preferments by early baker was a way to cut the cost of yeast and that flavor, extensibility, elasticity and all that lot are byproducts of a cost saving exercise via yeast budding. I have successfully and regularly modify recipes that use 2-3% bakers percentage of yeast to use 0.06%. Again thank you all.

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Fleichmann's invented around 1870 or so.  Almost all bread was made using the barm from beer and wine making where they scooped off the foam on the top of the fermenting mash and used that to make bread.  That is why bakeries were located next to breweries.  There was also smaller, much smaller amounts, of SD bread being made since ancient times for those not located next to breweries and didn't have a source of fresh barm.  Bakers loved barm bread because it was so much faster to make than SD and people loved it too since most people didn't like sour bread. 

The same two reasons why bakers and people still love yeast bread today.

The link doesn't work for me.

Happy baking 

OCO's picture
OCO
OCO's picture
OCO
breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

http://www.lallemand.com/BakerYeastNA/eng/PDFs/LBU%20PDF%20FILES/1_11PREF.PDF

There were a couple of extra characters in the OP link.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I don't bake with commercial yeast very much and if i do not want sour I replace commercial yeast with natural apple yeast water,  not the water yeast in the paper.  Yeast bread are just inferior to SD ones on all accounts except speed fir me. and, since i am retired, speed is not my forte:-)  I go for flavor, taste and keeping qualities over everything else.  Some folks don;t like SD bread though and in that case I use apple yeast water which also has better qualities in the finished product than commercial yeast.  But when the need speed hits , say for some dinner rolls in 4 hours, you have to go with commercial yeast..

Happy Baking

OCO's picture
OCO
dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is at work and eating your comments!  If you copy them to your clipboard before hitting save then you can just paste them back when this happen..... and it will happen often enough to do this for every post.

Defeat the TFL Gremlin!

OCO's picture
OCO

You've been most perceptive and helpful.

The gremlin truly has been at work at one time I get this error message; Error message"Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted. If you feel this is in error, please report that you are blocked." Wish is shame because it interrupts the flow of conversation and to make matters worse there no link (at least none I can find) to report the problem to the webmaster.
Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Thanks.  :)   

 

OCO's picture
OCO

Thanks.

i do have a question I think you maybe able to help with Regarding sourdough. 

I had read somewhere that sourdough wasn't initially meant to be sour or actually wasn't sour at all. That sourness is the result of technical ineptness of the baker. Sourdough has however since been looked upon as a legitimate demonstration of baking skill. 

What I will be interested in is baking with sourdough without as much of a hint of sourness. Any suggestions or pointers in acquiring such skills will be appreciated.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Sourness comes from the fermentation. The longer the fermentation the more sour. Then the type of grain will bring out different flavours too.

As a general rule (but there are many factors affecting this)...

Less starter = more flavour (or sourness)

More starter = more mellow flavour

Bit of a contradiction but think about it like this... If you add less starter then you need to increase the fermentation time. And vice versa, if you add in more starter then less fermentation time.

Then depending on your starter and at what temperature your bread ferments at will it be a bacterial fermentation resulting in a more sour flavour or a yeast fermentation which will be more mellow (I think it's that way round).

Then you can retard your dough bringing out a stronger flavour. Or quicken the time by keeping your dough in a warmer area.

Just some things to think about.

The only reason why more sourness would be the result of ineptness is if the baker wanted a less sour bread.

Arjon's picture
Arjon

Depending on the specific ingredients and method you use, the sourness can be mild enough that, depending on their palates, some people won't even notice it. In my still limited SD experience, my least sour loaves have used a white flour starter and mostly / all white flour.  And no refrigeration.

OCO's picture
OCO

Agreed with you. 

However the author contention was initially bakers started out to make bread with natural yeast ended up with a sour bread but that was history sourdough bread has since been a reason to bake. 

Thanks for the pointers and will surely take them into consideration in my experiments to come up with a highly reliable formula for natural yeast leavened dough that's void of sourness. 

I had read that based on the principles of acid and bases adding baking soda can eliminate sourness. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and it has always been sour.  There was never a time it wasn't sour.  The reason is simple enough. The SD culture has two components that live in symbiosis with each other LAB that make acids (the sour taste) and yeast that make CO2 and ethanol.  There was never a time when this was not so and there is nothing the baker did to make this happen by accident or on purpose.  It is just the natural world at work and microbiology doing its thing.  The LAB and yeast living together are ones that like and acid environment and like living with each other and why it is so hard to introduce other LAB and yeast to a stable culture and have them take over.

One thing is for sure, there are lots of myths in the SD world!

OCO's picture
OCO

Absolutely "One thing is for sure, there are lots of myths in the SD world!".

most grateful for the link - abenw11

 

Tommy gram's picture
Tommy gram

At what temperature are you leaving the preferment sit? That is a key factor of the equation. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of sourdough taste, change throughout the year just like the temps that affect the sourdough culture and the food that grows seasonally.  The same still applies to wine.  Fresh wine, although tasty still has a following but can lead to an enormous headache the following day.  A good wine will not do so.  Some wines age better than others.  Some locations are better for growing, making and ageing wine.  Breads and grains as well.  Many breads have an area of origin and a history.  

To say that sourdough originally wasn't sour and that lack of knowledge has led to an acquired taste for sour or to make a dough sour because of the usage of the word sour implies a sour sourdough and sour has become a goal,  is just too "off the cuff" for me.  The author should be ashamed of himself for short thinking. Tastes change with times and ideas and influences of culture and migration.  Something "new" is often something old or forgotten and swings back into popularity for several reasons.  It is more complicated.   

Trial and error baking without really knowing what exactly is going on technically can bring on a tasty loaf.  When it tastes good, it is often remembered and repeated especially if economical.  

Often a dough is pitched or thrown out without consideration, a problem with our throw away modern society, but making it work is probably closer to the way bread was baked in the past, before professional bakers.  Preferments are actually easier to plan around and fit into working schedules.  

OCO's picture
OCO

Valid points @Mini. 

I was once told that the person that discovered the laws of floatatoon was trying to find out what makes things float. 

Do you think the first person that made sourdough bread set out to make a bread that's sour? That's not to say anything is wrong with sourdough 

I think they set out to make the best bread they can with the best "yeast" of the time and for whatever reason, time, temperature or a combination turned out sourdough. 

And that's alright too!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

who first made sourdough called it just bread.  Then someone came along, opened a bakery and decided they would rename the breads if they had more than one kind to offer.  

When the yeast source changed enough to make a difference, the word sourdough bread popped up lest it be confused with the new brewer's yeast bread.  Interesting is that it is called sourdough bread (more of a process) and not sour-bread.  

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Unleavened bread was originally called "bread"

Then sourdough came along and that was just called "bread" and bread became "flat breads" or "unleavened bread"

Then barm came along and that became "bread", bread became "sourdough" and unleavened breads remained "unleavened breads" or their regional names such as chipati or laffa etc. 

The rest is history