Pate Fermentee (France), Poolish (Poland), Biga (Italy), 3 major methods of bread starter

You may ask yourself: what is a starter?  Answer: magic.  Kinda.  Starters are fermented cultures much like beer, wine, yogurt, that we use all the time.
Essentially, a portion of the flour, water and yeast are mixed and allowed to ferment for up to 48 hours before tossing it in with your bread dough.
They also have a limited life, so there is no obligation to remember to feed them and keep them alive, like in sourdough starter.

There are 3 major methods for sponges, depend on the country where they were developed:

1. Patee fermentee (=old dough), from FRANCEused for:  french breadpain de capagnepane siciliano

2. Poolish a wet sponge from POLAND used for:  whole wheat english muffin

3. Biga,a dryer sponge, from  ITALY used for: ciabata breadItalian bread

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

  1. pate fermentee=old dough, because of salt is equal of a regular bread dough and bakers use a piece of dough from yesterday 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. poolish (wet starter)                                      3. biga (dryer  starter)
 2 and 1/2 cups   bread flour                                                      2 and 1/2 cup  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 temp)


NOTE: Poolish was originally used in Poland (hence the name) and is such a great preferment that it is one of the most widely used in French bakeries.  That’s right, French boulangers ditched their very own pâte fermentée to use a Polish poolish.  Why is it so popular?  Yes, yes, you’ll get great rise, crust and structure but you’ll also get a fabulous moist crumb with chewy texture and amazing flavor.  Oh, the flavor!  Sweet and tangy and just about perfection.


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


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