Preferments – recommended ratio?

(Phillip) #1

Hi, everyone.

I’ve always liked loaves that use a preferment because of the extra depth of flavor, but I have yet to develop my own recipe with a preferment. I’d like to remedy that. My question, then, is what would be a reliable set of percentages for developing a bread formula with a preferment?

As far as I can tell, the preferment in Breadtopia’s “Traditional Whole Grain Sourdough” has its flour at 32% of the overall flour weight; its water at 42% of the overall H2O weight; and the sourdough starter at 50% of the preferment’s total weight (i.e. 556g.), which is also 16% of the overall flour weight (i.e. 741g.).

With roughly the same percentages, do you think it would work to subtract the appropriate amounts from pretty much any recipe if I wanted to include a preferment?

Or if you’ve tried incorporating a preferment into a recipe that didn’t use one, how did you do it? And how were the results?

All the best to you all in the new year,

(Stuart) #2

Hi Phillip,
A joyful new year to you.
I use a preferment the majority of the time especially with whole grain bread. Most of my loaves are based on 350g flour not including starter which I consider as an ingredient not a flour or liquid component. Of that 350, 120g(or34%) is used in the preferment along with 84g water for a 70%hyydration(that is what my starter is kept at) and 50g starter. This mixture doubles in three or four hours depending on temp and is active enough to leven a loaf in a relatively short period of time which is what I am striving for because I am not a fan of sour bread.

I think if you stay in the 30% of flour range for your preferment and play with the hydration and starter ratios until you are happy with results you have a good chance for success.
Enjoy exploring preferments.
I forgot to mention that I have tried he same bread with and without the preferment and much prefer the one with.

(Phillip) #3

Hi, Stu.

Thanks for your response. In that case, I’ll gladly take 30% as a rough estimate for the flour in a preferment. I’ve got some bread formulas of my own that I’d like to alter with a preferment, so hopefully it turns out well!


(whippet) #4

Back when I started sourdough I got Sourdough Jack’s book, long out of print but occasionally to be found on ebay etc… In it he talked about what he called a ‘long sponge.’ To set that up use 2/3 of the flour and 100% of the liquid (only water, milk etc no oil, molasses, honey , sorghum etc) and all the starter the recipe calls for. Let sit from 12 to 30 hours then complete the recipe, I’ve found that more than 24 hrs in Chicago in the summer will not give a good rise with the final product. The longer you let the sponge sit the more tang you get. I like tang so most of my long sponges sit for 24 hrs.
I’ve used this technique for nearly every sourdough bread recipe I’ve ever made and it works well for all of them.
Notes. Consider the long sponge your first rise, I’ve never gotten a decent second rise if I try to do two rises after using a long sponge.