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Bake Better Bread: Pre ferment – Pâte fermentée

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 Do you want to know a secret?

This is one of the secrets to great tasting bread and is part of my series Bake Better Bread.

Traditional baguettes proving

Traditional baguettes proving

Pâte fermentée or Pre-fermented dough

Its French name is pâte fermentée (fermented dough) or PF for short. Traditionally, bakers kept some of the dough made on one day to start the next day’s dough. Unfortunately, it is also sometimes referred to as “old dough” which is somewhat less appealing!

Adding the pre-fermented dough (PF _to your bread recipe really develops and improves the flavour. You need to add less yeast (you must still add some) and you need to knead less.

Pate Fermentee

Pâte fermentée

It’s widely used in France especially when making “traditional” baguettes. There’s actually a law dating back to 1993 that decrees that only traditional flour (without additives), yeast and salt must be used and that the dough should not be frozen at any point. This is where the pâte fermentée helps kick start the bread making process. Always ask for “une Baguette de Tradition “when buying a loaf in France. Other types of baguette may have additives.

How to make pâte fermentée / pre-fermented dough.

You’ll be pleased to know that you do not have to keep back dough, you can make pre-fermented dough from scratch. Once made put it in the fridge and it is ready to use after 3 hours. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days and take out the amount you need for your recipe. The PF is added to bread recipes, but can also be added to sweet doughs and croissants although purists will insist on PF made of sweet dough.

Adding PF can give your bread a great texture

Adding PF can give your bread a great texture

It will rise a little in a cool fridge, but sits there quite happily until you need it. It can be made with whatever gluten rich flour you have to hand – white, brown or wholewheat. I tend to make white pâte fermentée which goes with everything. The yeast content is typically 1% and salt content in PF is usually 1 to 1.8% of the flour weight.

Other pre-ferments for bread

Other pre-ferments include: biga which is a firm mixture with no salt added (this ferment can be made with either baker’s yeast or levain); poolish which is liquid and contains less yeast than biga; and a sponge which is usually used for a short term ferment used to help heavier flours get going.

How to use pâte fermentée

The pâte fermentée can be used in any existing recipe, simply add in at the same time as the other ingredients typically use 20% of the flour weight. The amount of yeast required in most bread recipes can be reduced to 1% of flour weight if using the pre-fermented dough.

Recipe for PF

Pate Fermentee - Pre-fermented dough

This is the secret of great tasting bread. Make pate fermentee (PF) and keep it in your fridge for 3 to 4 days. Add to your bread recipe as required. 
Course Bread
Cuisine French
Keyword Bake better bread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Proving 3 hours
Author breadbakerdanielle

Ingredients

  • 500 gr white bread flour eg Shipton Mill Organic No. 4
  • 5 gr fresh yeast available from most supermarket bread counters
  • 9 gr salt
  • 225 ml water

Instructions

  • If you are making in a stand mixer, place all ingredients in the bowl. 
  • Mix for 3 minutes at a low speed, then a further 3 minutes at medium speed. The dough should come away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. 
  • If you are making by hand, place the flour in a large bowl. Rub the fresh yeast into the flour. Add the salt, then the water. Mix well, then knead until smooth - about 10 minutes
  • Place the dough in a bowl or box and cover well. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 3 hours. Use within 3-4 days. 
  • To use, taken 20% of the weight of flour in Pate Fermentee and add it to the other ingredients at the same time as the flour. 

Basic bread recipe using pâte fermentée

This is an ideal recipe to try. You can adapt it easily once you’ve made it the first time.

Basic Bread Recipe using pâte fermentée

I use white bread flour in this recipe. I'd suggest making it with white flour the first time to see the results. You can then use one third of other flour such as wholemeal or rye and two thirds white flour. This recipe uses techniques discussed in the Bake Better Bread series. Further explanation of Baker's Percentages
Course Bread
Cuisine French
Keyword Bake better bread, bread
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Proving 2 hours
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Author breadbakerdanielle

Ingredients

  • 500 gr white bread flour 100%
  • 100 gr pâte fermentée (PF) 20%
  • 325 ml water 65%
  • 5 gr fresh yeast 1%
  • 9 gr salt 1.8%

Instructions

  • Stand mixer version
    If you are using a stand mixer, place the dry ingredients into the bowl ensuring the fresh yeast and salt are kept separately
  • Add the pâte fermentée and water (Read more about water temperature). Mix on a low speed for 5 minutes
  • Increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 3 minutes or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. You can test whether the dough is ready by: checking the temperature which should be between 24 and 26C or pull some of the dough to check the dough has some resistance does not break easily.
  • Hand mix version
    If you are making the dough by hand, add the dry ingredients to the bowl. Rub the yeast into the flour lightly keeping it away from the salt.  Add the pâte fermentée in small lumps. Add the water 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 22 - 24 degrees. Check the dough for resistance and that it will not break easily. 
  • Proving
    For either version, cover the bowl and leave at room temperature. It should be ready to shape after about an hour.  Pre-heat your oven to 210 C. Read more about heat, steam and slashing your bread.
  • Shaping
    Shape your bread and leave for a further 45 minutes to an hour before baking. 
  • Baking
    Slash the top of the loaf and place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes

 

Bake Better Bread: Baker’s Percentages

Bake Better Bread: Using heat and steam

Baker Better Bread: Baking in the Rofco

 

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5 Comments

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    28/05/2019 at 12:49

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  • Reply
    Supriya Kutty
    10/07/2019 at 13:02

    This Bread looks so good and so soft. I have never tried bread at home, I always purchase it. But, I think I should try this bread at home by following your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing this great post. Please do keep sharing.

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