The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pate Fermentée Schedule?

avogadro's picture

Pate Fermentée Schedule?

There are lots of resources about making a pate fermentée for the purpose of simply being a one and done preferment. There's not much info though about how to use a pate fermentée as a substitute for adding any commercial yeast to a recipe at all. 

I've also seen a few different resources saying the best time to use a pate fermentée is once it passes the poke test, others say once it recedes in the middle, others say once it's fallen back completely (although others also say that once it's fallen back completely it has no levaining use at all, just flavour). 

Does anyone have any hints, tips, resources, understanding, their own schedule? Where I can just make up a dough, add pate fermentée as say 20% of that dough, knead, let rise, remove 20% for tomorrow, rinse, repeat.

mikewasinnyc's picture

I’m curious about something like this for baguettes, if it exists.

idaveindy's picture

Search on the terms biga and old dough, that might zero in on what you're looking for,

mwilson's picture

Very informative but in Italian..

20% is perfect. Don't allow the dough to ferment more than 8 hours at room temp, store in the fridge after that...

Giorilli likes to refresh the old dough, 1 part old dough, 1 part flour @ approx. 50% hydration (he says a dry dough consistency) for 3-4 hours before use.

Panettiera's picture

I read a comment, on a fix-my-sourdough thread, that at an in-person class, JIm Lahey described a technique which is clearly pasta fermentata/ pate' fermente'e. Lahey referred to it as "lazy man's sourdough". As described second-hand, just take a blob of your fully fermented, fully proofed dough right before baking. Put aside in fridge.The next time you bake, mix it in water till well diluted, and add it to your dough. 

The other easy way to capture and re-use leavening is to never clean the bin or bowl in which you do your original mixing. (I would break this rule if using eggs, and possibly if using milk.) I scrape out the dried flakes from the bin, soften in warm water, and add to the dough. 

Are these two enough by themselve? I don't know. I suspect an important variable is how long you are willing to let it rise.If you're interested enough, try experimenting with a small batch and see how far it can take you. 

I've been doing both of the above for a while, but I do add a pinch of yeast which is years past expy date (< 1/8th tsp for 900 gms flour). It's entirely possible that in my case, the yeast has more of a placebo effect.

So here are some more search terms for you:

Lazy sourdough/ lazy man's sourdough [though on this site, you'll get "lazy baker", a screen name]

Pasta fermentata

Pasta vecchia (old dough)

A biga, as used and defined in traditional Italian baking, is only a preferment. Lahey calls his stiff sourdough starter a biga, but it's not the same thing, as he acknowledges. 

The interesting link posted above (thank you) for “pasta di riporto” or “pasta vecchia" describes the addition of old dough, fermented from 2-8 hours, at no more than 20%, as a method to add flavor and complexity and to cut down on the need for other leavening. So it is not meant to replace other leavening.  It refers briefly to a biga that can be used for 100% of certain doughs (e,g, ciabatta). 

i've seen videos (in Italian) about the kind of biga they describe. It's fairly complex, The biga is made into a sort of fat, very dense cylinder and conserved under water. 

Good luck.