Hello! I am Chef Nicholas from Chefs with Benefits.
Today we are going to learn how to make a nice loaf of handmade, pre-fermented bread.
Pre-fermented dough (or poolish, sponge, biga etc), is a pre-ferment where you mix one part flour and one part water with a small amount of commercial yeast, resulting in a fairly wet sponge that is left to ferment for at least 3 hours in the fridge; and it can last up to 3 days (in the fridge obviously). Longer fermentation time adds more flavor and gives the bread a better texture.
Ideally, we make it the day before we are going to use it.
Ingredients for 2 loaves of bread:
• 125 gr white bread flour (very important)
• 4 gr dry yeast
• 5 gr sugar (optional)
• 100 ml water
• If you are making by hand, place the yeast in a large bowl. Add the water, then the sugar and the flour. Mix well, for a few minutes until all the flour is hydrated.
• Cover well with clingfilm. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 3 hours. Use within 3 days*.
• 500 gr white bread flour
• Half the pre-fermented dough
• 325 ml water
• 5 gr fresh yeast
• 20 gr salt
• 15 gr sugar (optional)
If you are making the dough by hand, add the dry yeast and water in PF dough and mix it well. Then add the flour, salt and sugar and mix well.
When all the flour is absorbed, take the dough out of the bowl and knead until smooth. Check the temperature, it should be about 24 C. Check the dough for resistance and that it will not break easily.
Cover the bowl and leave in a turn off oven, or in the oven with the light on. It should be ready to shape after about an hour.
We take out the air of the the dough ** and open it in a rectangle, and then fold it in***.
Shape your bread and leave for a further 45 minutes to an hour before baking. You can place it on a couche dusted with flour and cover, or in a banneton dredged with flour and covered. Since I am baking it in a Pyrex bowl, I am using that.
Pre heat your oven to 250°C (or more) an hour before you want to bake. If you have a pizza stone or Dutch oven equivalent pre-heat it too.
Slash the top of the loaf and place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes with the cover on and 15-20 min with the cover off.
Leave it on a rack to cool down completely.
Hope you try! Send me photos in my insta!!
*The ideal time for the pre-fermented dough is 12-24 hours. You can use it up to 3 days but the rising time during proofing will be probably longer.
**Releasing the air has many benefits: The yeast cells are redistributed and form a closer bond with the sugar and moisture to help fermentation and improve the second rise. The yeast gets new starches and sugars to eat during the second rise. This improves the bread’s flavor.
***We do that in order to create more tense in the dough and help the oven spring (AKA the rise and opening up of the crust during baking)
****A Dutch oven helps to mimic the environment many professional bakers have in a bakery: a moisture-sealed chamber with intense and (mostly) even radiative heat. The Dutch oven, with its thick cast iron walls, offers ample thermal mass to ensure a temperature-stable baking environment. Additionally, the sealed interior traps steam which is a beneficial component to baking bread. Moisture in the oven during the beginning part of baking allows your bread to rise fully, deepens the crust color, increases the spectrum of colors on the crust, and finally, adds a level of shininess to the exterior. Pyrex or ceramic bowls with lid, are getting hot fast so they don’t need to be preheated. Try to avoid to touch a cold dough on a hot ceramic or glass bowl as it might get broken. If you have a enamel pot (with metal handles, don’t put any plastic in the oven) you can use it as the cast iron one.
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Original of the video here