PRE- FERMENTERS, used in bread baking.

 How to use  PRE-FERMENTERS and what are they?



There are breads that need tender loving care to be soft, yet crunch, tasty, and memorable!
This is why there is a pre-fermenter, a step before you start kneading when you give the yeast more time to develop, growing, and rising, before you start making the bread.
In general, there are two pre-ferment varieties:  

A. sponges, based on baker's yeast,

 B. and the starters, based on developing wild yeasts that are found on grain’s kernel (necessary for panettone and deserts) and methods to develop wild yeasts and acidity from lactic acid bacteria (sourdough breads).

 CIABATA BREAD, flat as a "slipper=ciabata" full of bubble and air.
A. There are 3 major methods for sponges, depending on the country where they were developed:

1. Patee fermentee (=old dough), from FRANCEused for:  french bread; pain de champagne; pane siciliano

2. Poolish a wet sponge from FRANCE used for ciabatta bread

3. Biga, from Italy used for ciabatta bread, Italian bread

All 3 sponges have the same preparation method: mix all the ingredients 2-6h, before you start making bread dough, at room temp, until the surface is bubbling and develops a distinctive smell of yeast.
 At that moment, you refrigerate the sponge until the next morning when you mix it with the bread dough.

  1. pate fermentee=old dough, because salt is equal to regular bread dough and bakers use a piece of dough from yesterday's batch  (good 3 days, refrigerated)
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cups   bread flour
 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup water, at room temperature
3/4 tsp salt

 2. polish (wet starter)                                                  3. Biga (dryer starter)
2 1/2 cups   bread flour                                                                2 1/2 cups   bread flour 
 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast                                                           1/2 teaspoon instant yeast          
1 and 1/2 cups water (at room temperature)                                3/4 cups water (at room temperature)



Mix all the ingredients well.
Leave them in a bowl, lightly covered, preferably with cheesecloth, at room temp 2-6h, until they start bubbling.
Use a ceramic wrap to cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (you can keep it with good results, for 3 days, refrigerated).
The next day (the day you bake the bread) you can use the quantity you need for your bread.

B. The “starter”

is called  Levain in FRANCE, and 
is called  Barm in ENGLAND where Barm is the top, foamy,  part of Beer fermentation, and it was used for a  long time for baking bread: the yeast in the “Barm” is developed and ready to work in future bread dough.

The “starter” is a process of following the yeast culture for a few days, feeding it:
 every 4h /if it is a wet barm,/
 or every 12 hours /if it is a stiff barm/.

Because you keep yeast culture alive, by feeding them, they are often maintained over long periods of time. The “Boudin Bakery” in San Francisco for example, has used the same starter dough for over 150 years for their sourdough. (Wikipedia)


For 6 cups of BARM you will need to mix well:
               3 and ½ cups bread flour (=high gluten flour)
               2 cups luke water (at room temperature)
               and 1 cup seed culture (recipe follow)
Put the barm in a buttered bowl, covered, for about 6 hours, until you see bubbling, at the surface.
Refrigerate at this moment, keep cold for the night, and use the next day /you can use it up to 3
  days, if it is refrigerated/.


Procedure for “seed culture”:

DAY 1:  mix 1 cup rye flour with ½ cup pineapple jus (organic, or freshly squeezed). Keep at room temp,
Day 2:   add ½ cup bread flour (high in gluten) and ¼ cup pineapple juice; keep at room temp, covered
Day 3:  discard half of the above dough and add 1 cup bread flour and ½ cup luke water; keep at room
 temp, covered.

Next day, you can use a cup of it for your BARM. If it is not all bubbling and smelling you can “feed” some more days, REPEATING DAY 3 PROCEDURE.

This mixer becomes very bubbly and yeasty smelling and you can keep it “indefinitely” (?) as long as
you ”feed it” every day, repeating the day 3 procedure.



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