Baking solely with natural leavens
My bread baking journey started when I strolled through a bookstore on my break at work and found a bread book on sale. Every recipe in the book called for sourdough starter. This was my first introduction to naturally leavened bread. I never really knew of it before. I had of course heard of sourdough bread but never really liked sour bread. That’s just what I thought all sourdough breads were, sour. I was certainly sceptical of the recipes, figuring they’d all have that funny sourdough taste. What I didn’t realize was that not all sourdough breads are sour.
A sourdough is just naturally leavened bread, and in fact was they way all bread was made before the introduction of commercial yeast. Bread was made with just flour, water and some salt. That’s it. That sort of planted the seed in my mind that I only wanted to bake breads using a natural leaven. I don’t however want to make just regular sourdough breads. I want to make all the traditional French and Italian and other European breads the way they were made before commercial yeast. I would love to figure out how to adapt all these recipes that always call for yeast or pre-ferments with yeast.
Im pretty comfortable working with all the basic pre-ferments (poolish, biga, levain). Many of the traditional French and Italian bread recipes call for poolish and biga, which are always yeasted. I’m wondering if anyone has delved into this at all, essentially how to make natural poolish, or natural biga. I suppose those would basically be a wet and firm starter, respectively. So could those be used in place of a yeasted poolish/biga, the confusion lies in that these preferments I often find are in large amounts of the final dough%.