The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is there such thing as a Sourdough Preferment?

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Is there such thing as a Sourdough Preferment?

I live in Italy where there are tons of ancient types of wheat available which is all good except the fact that they are high in protein but low in gluten. This makes it challenging (at least for me) to make a bread that rises well (or at all). All of my attempts ended up with a bread pancake.

Since I'm baking only with sourdough and have never baked a bread with commercial yeast in my life, I've never considered biga or poolish useful to me but reading about positive aspects of a preferment I was curious if I can apply the same principle also for my sourdough bread made from weak ancient wheat flour (I really need every help that I can find to get the darn thing rise :D)

I stumbled upon this site (http://www.sourdoughbaker.com.au/index.php/recipes-how-to-make-sourdough-bread/breadmaking-techniques/preferments-for-sourdough) which explains how to make a sourdough preferment. In short it goes like this:

• Mix all of the recipe's water, sourdough and 1/2 of the flour

• Let it ferment for 3 or more hours (depending on the temperature, but it should be ready when it has a lot of bubbles)

• Add the remaining 1/2 of the flour to the preferment, wait for 30 minutes, then add salt and proceed with the recipe 

 

This is all good but this looks to me like a big liquid sourdough refreshed 3h prior to bread making and nothing more.

So my question is: Has anyone tried making a preferment like this and did it help in any way to strengthen the dough?

 

Thanks!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Is a Pre-Ferment and so is an off shoot starter - a levain - a Pre-Ferment. 

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Pre (before) the ferment-ation. 

From my understanding a preferment is any combination of fermentable ingredient mixed together and matured before the final mix. I mostly use levains and poolishes but there are others. Levains are heavy on lactobacillus and poolishes are heavy on yeast.

My levain might go as follows: take a piece from the mother, mix it together with water and flour(s)... maybe even a little salt. I call this a refresher. I builds for about 6 hours at around 74 F and eventually it becomes the starter for my levain. At this point I would call the levain a preferement, even though the refresher is actually a mini preferment too.

 

Jim

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Well yes, that's the standard refresh procedure and what he does is more or less the same thing but in larger quantities and he let's it ferment for only 3h. What he also says is that a preferment like this makes a bread that is lighter, more flavoursome, and has better keeping qualities. So in theory a sourdough refreshed like described on the website has some additional benefits. I just wonder if someone has actually tried it so he can share his experience. Nevertheless since I'm baking tomorrow I'll give it a shot and see how it goes :)

Lechem's picture
Lechem

He makes the dough and holds back some of the flour. He allows it to ferment and then later adds the rest of the flour. So many different ways of making bread each bringing different qualities to the final product. All he's done is preferment 50% of the flour. He's made a large levain. 

Paneski's picture
Paneski

Yeah, so I'm curious to see if it will help me get as much as possible from the small amount of gluten available in the flour. 

Btw Abe all the trouble I had with my previous batches was because I was using ancient grains without knowing it. So now I want to figure out how to conquer it :) I read everywhere that it is used also for bread making but I didn't manage to get some clear info on what's "the secret". I'm following advices on how to get a strong dough here http://www.sfbi.com/images/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf (great stuff btw!) so, fingers crossed, and we'll see the results :)

Jacob Lockcuff's picture
Jacob Lockcuff

Are you sure it's the flours themselves causing the issues? What issues are you having per day, other than rising? What is the process you're following? How much Sourdough starter are you using in your recipes?

 

Now, judging by your summary of the recipe, as for benefits, he's essentially making half the recipe I assume with the full amount of starter. My guess is that starter gets to really multiply, so that when the last of the flour is added it will rise quicker. I personally can't see this making a difference with bread pancakes, but a lot of times you'd be surprised I guess.

Paneski's picture
Paneski

It's definitely the flour because as soon as I've changed it with the normal bread flour the bread has risen without any problems.

It's been 4h since I've made a preferment and I still can't see many bubbles. Now it's in the oven with a small pot with boiling water. I hope it will speed-up the process because I'm not sure what's gonna happen to it if it preferments for too long, probably nothing but who knows :D