The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

'Old dough' vs pate fermente

hullaf's picture

'Old dough' vs pate fermente

I'm curious about using 'old dough', not a premade pate fermente per se, that I make the day or two before. I'm in the process of making a straight dough and want to save some dough to refrigerate and give flavor to the next one. How much do I save and at what point in the recipe do I take out a portion -- such as after the first rise or just before it's shaped for the final proof? How long can I save it? And can I put this saved 'old piece of dough' in a different kind of bread from a recipe that uses a pate fermente?  I'll need a recipe that uses a firm pre-ferment distinctly called a pate fermente (not a biga because that would have no salt), correct?  Anet 

nbicomputers's picture

bakers have been doing this for years. 

re mixing dough is commen way to reduce wast. 

you can use between 10 and 15 % of old dough in a new batch depending if the dough is just old or realy sour.  to see how bad a dough has gotten break the skin and smell careful because a realy old dough has enough ETOH to burn your nose.  ( an unkind trick bakers would play on a new aprentice)

there are some sweet dough products that are based on "old dough" such as old fashoned crulers and a dough called frozen dough so named because it can be frozen for a long time and not lose quality.   It is used for cinn buns and other sweet products.

a forumla will be posted if you want

graz's picture


that would be great if you could post a formula I'm sure alot of us would be very interested.

hullaf's picture

 Thanks fellas for the info; I'll keep reading and researching. (No alcoholic vapors for me!) I was just curious about the 'old dough' category and if anyone used them anymore. Do they differ that much from the sourdough starters. I like the idea of keeping it all going for a long time.   Anet

PaddyL's picture

And I'll be using them in the next couple of days.  Amy's Bread has recipes using "old dough", and I'll post one of them tomorrow, along with what she has to say about it.  Too late tonight, and am on my way to bed.

PaddyL's picture

From Amy's Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree, I quote:  "Using an old dough starter is similar to using a sponge, but instead of making a flour and water batter, you simply incorporate a piece of mature dough into a new batch of dough.  Because your piece of old dough is already mature, it contains lively yeast and the flavor of wheat from the flour has had some time to develop.  The old dough method produces a full-flavored loaf with a lighter, open-textured crumb than a straight yeast dough and an extended shelf life."  They give a recipe for an Old Dough Starter, but you can save some of any bread dough you're using.  Keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, or you can freeze it until you think you'll be needing it.  14-1/2 oz. is the amount used in a Cinnamon Raisin Bread that I made from this book, and it turned out beautifully.  There are a few other recipes using "old dough", and if you like I could post one or two.  I also have a recipe for Lavash from another book, which uses 8 oz. of old dough, and I'd be glad to share that with you, if you'd like.

ehanner's picture

Professor Raymond Calvel said that using prefermented dough is the best way to arrive at a full flavor with a good after taste. He suggested using 45% and up to 170% of the total flour weight of prefermented dough. The dough mix can be aged 3-4 hours and used as prefermented and up to 12 hours at room temp. or refrigerated for up to 36 hours before use.

In one video I saw of him using this process, he removed roughly 30% of a batch he had just mixed and set it aside for the next batch's pat fermente. I was surprised at the large amount but if you are making the same bread day after day it really is just a planning consideration. 30% of the current batch was made from 30% of the previous days batch. He is shown cutting it into small 1 Lb pieces while adding it into a 80 qt mixer.

Remember the amount of salt that will be in the preferment so you don't mistakenly end up with too much.  Hope this helps. I use this method all the time and I get great results.


hullaf's picture

Yes, please and thank you, could you post a couple of recipes with "old dough"? I'm wanting to find a recipe that I can use consistently for the summertime. At present I bake twice a week and have been experimenting with various recipes, but spring is coming; gardening jobs and other general duties will get more priority. I want a routine plan and down-pat technique to make my 'daily loaf -- for the week. I tend toward whole wheat and/or multigrain breads and the cinnamon raisin bread sounds good.      
Eric -- thanks for your info, too.  The input about salt is noted.  Anet

hokietoner's picture

I'm pretty sure that pate fermente means old dough. At least that's what I've read; when the recipe says pate fermente they're talking about a portion of dough from the previous time that recipe was made.

hullaf's picture

PaddyL, I found in Hamelman's bread book some recipes for using "old dough" so thanks anyway but no need to put up some recipes. I did try one today, the plain "Whole Wheat Bread" and . . . I'm not sure. The first taste was disappointing, not real full of wheat flavor.  But I did cut it before it was completely cool (and wheat breads taste better cool) and I do have a cold (virus going around) and I over proofed it a bit and, and, and. One of those days where little goofs make up to be more than the sum of the parts. But I will try again. I do so like Hamelman's recipes. They turn out feeling right and usually tasting great 

Henry -- your addition helps too, thank you. Technique is important.   Anet
PaddyL's picture

I completely forgot to post the recipes! My bad, as my young nephew says.  I even forgot about the two pieces of dough I'd saved, finding them in the fridge the other day, and tossing them into the freezer for future use.  I too have a cold and my head is more than normally stuffed with cotton wool, or whatever, and I'm not thinking clearly at all.  Another time, perhaps, and I will post the recipe for a very tasty raisin bread using old dough.

patman23's picture

I have a starter dough that I was originally going to use for a braided Scali bread recipe.  I never got around to using it but I Have had the starter sitting on my counter for like a week or so.  It's quite sour and I'd imagine that it'd mage a great sour dough starter.  I just don't wana use it if it's too old.  Any advice would be great... 

Oh, my ingredients for hte starter were:

1 c Bread Flour

1tsp Active Yeast

1/2 c water

It's been sitting for about a week on my counter, covered with plactic wrap in a glass measuring cup.


Thanks for your help!