Protected: Capstone Project – Preferment


    What is Pre-ferment?

Fermentation is the most interesting theory over the period taking Artisan Baking Program. Fermentation comprises the huge of part in the baking which is processed by yeast. Yeast is divided commercial yeast and wild yeast. When I made artisan bread, I used natural sour and pre-ferments which were made by wild yeast and commercial yeast each. I interested about natural sour and pre-ferments because those contribute unique characteristics of Artisan bread. For the reason, I decided to explore about type of pre-ferments and function of that as well as natural sour. Also, I will experiment to know that how to react wild yeast in gluten free flour.

What is natural sourdough?

Natural sour is the oldest and most original form of sour bread. The oldest recorded use of natural sour is from the Ancient Egyptian civilizations. Egyptians discovered natural sour accidently. They realized the fact that they can gain sour flavor from natural sour if they leave the flour and liquid mixture at room temperature. Also, they were used to use leftover dough and they discovered that the leftover dough contribute leavening of bread and lighter structure than regular bread. Egyptian tried to develop skills and knowhow of natural sour and natural sour is used around the world. (Kitchen project. The history of sour dough.)

“Sourdough starter is likely the oldest, being reliant on organisms present in the grain and local environment. In general, these starters have fairly complex microbiological makeups, the most notable including wild yeasts, lactobacillus, and acetobacteria. 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. A roughly synonymous term in French baking is levain”. (wikipedia. pre-ferment:Classifications)

This is my first Natural sour from VCC recipe(add onion for flavor)

12 35


De la Terre bakery (2015). Sourdough saves.

Natural sour contain various microorganisms, they contribute unique characteristics of sour bread. First of all, natural sour can be ward off from mold because bacteria in natural sour produce natural preservatives itself. Second, the natural sour bread has sour flavor and taste because there are lactobacilli which contribute sour flavor also Laci bacteria will create a good structure of gluten as evidenced by small but regular air cells in the crumb. Lastly, natural sour bread retains its moisture at room temperature in contrast with regular bread. The reason is that natural sour has extra fermentation that traps more moisture in the dough.


Teach engineering(2015).Yeast cells respire:intridycutib /motivation.

Making Natural sour is made by just mixing flour and liquid and leaves it at room temperature for several days and adds fresh flour and liquid over the next several days. After a few days, if bubbles come up in the dough, wild yeasts are ready to be used. Every time I look at bubbles of natural sour,  I just wanted to see shape of Yeast  . It was so interesting and surperized.

What is preferment?

Artisan breads are made with four basic ingredients: wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. Sourdough is sometimes used in place of the yeast and other flavorings such as cheese, fruit, nuts, herbs and spices may be added for variety. The main differences in these breads are the technique used.

Pre- fermented dough or batter refers as pre-ferments which are added into Artisan and sourdough bread for leavening, adding flavor and unique textures. Artisan bread has the criteria for unique characteristics. Artisan bread is made by natural, slow fermentation, purity of ingredients, no addictive and hearth baking. Also, artisan bread has particular crumb characteristics and flavor. In addition, steam is utilized during the baking process to produce the crispy golden-brown crust characteristic of certain varieties of the artisan loaf.

Preferment is described by the amount of water they contain as stiff or wet, and vary by fermentation times, temperatures, and other details of their making. Most pre-ferments use commercial yeast, as opposed to attracting wild yeast and bacteria.

Pre-ferments are mixed using specific mixing methods, or the indirect dough mixing method. The pre-fermented breads have a mild-tasting tangy or wheaty flavor, and vary from a fine to large air-cell and a unique crust. (Formerly baking911 crafty baking (2000) by Sarah, P. Pre-ferments.)

There are many different type of preferment as bellow:


Biga and poolish are terms used in Italian and French baking, respectively, for sponges made with domestic baker’s yeast. Poolish is a fairly wet sponge. It is by definition made with equal weights of flour and water (it is 100% hydration). It should be stored in refrigerator, whereas biga is usually drier. Bigas can be held longer at their peak than wetter sponges, while a poolish is one known technique to increase a dough’s extensibility.(Didier,Artisan Baker consultant, your guide to preferments). Biga is like mini-dough made with flour, water (50 to 60%), and a small amount of yeast. It can be quite stiff.

There are  examples what I made below:

  •   Gibassier:mix bread flour, milk and instant yeast a day ahead.
  •   Kamut:mix  kamut flour, water and yeast.
  •   Cracked Wheat:combine hard flour, water and yeast.
  •   Spelt:mix bread flour, water and yeast.
  •   9 Grain bread:mix bread flour, water and yeast.


For Gibassier


For Kamut

 30 31 33

For Cracked wheat   / Spelt   /    9Grain


Pre-ferment dough

Old dough (pâte fermentée) may be made with yeast or sourdough cultures, and in essence consists of a piece of dough reserved from a previous batch, with more flour and water added to feed the remaining flora. Because this is a piece of old dough, it has the typical ingredient of salt to distinguish it from other pre-ferments. Once old dough had rested for an additional 10 hours of age, the French named it Levain de Chef. (Didier,Artisan Baker consultant, your guide to preferments)

There are examples what I made below:

  •   Baguette:mix bread flour, water,salt and yeast
  •   San Francisco:combine  bread flour, water,salt and yeas


Pre-fermented dough for San Francisco and Baguette



It is made flour, water and yeast in the recipe, but no salt. It is fermented faster than poolish because sponge contains more yeast

There are  example what I made below:

  •  Artisan bread:mix bread flour, natural sour and water and then store room temprature.
  •  Challah:combine bread flour, yeast and water of 30’C.
  •  Walnut Raisin:mix bread flour, water, yeast and salt least 18hours.


Artisna bread

55 56



Walnut Raisin rye



Soaker is a mixture of a grain(and/or nuts, seeds) and some fluid(usually water). To use a soaker instead you would just leave the oats on the counter overnight in enough water for them to plump and soften. Plus there is the added benefit of the possibility for more flavor to develop as enzymes and bacteria work all night long on the starches and sugars in the oats. In these ways the soaker allows for a much wider range of raw ingredients to be added to a dough, making it a very useful tool. (the butcherthe Bread Essentials-Preferments and soakers.

Cold soaks are prepared by combining cool to tepid water with flour, usually a day prior to dough production. The soaker is then rested at room temperature (below 30°C / 86°F) for several hours.

Ingredients: Flours with high enzymatic activity are best used for cold soaks. To prevent the development of off-flavours from extraneous fermentation, salt can also be added to cold soaks.

There are examples what I made below:

  •   Sprouted, Rye: soak kernels in cold water overnight.
  •   Cracked wheat bread:combine boiling water and cradked wheat then storing at room temperature.
  •   Pumpernickel:mix rye coarse, cold water and yeast for 3day.
  •   9 Grain bread:combine boiling water and 9 grain mix then storing at room temperature overnight.


Sprouted / Cracked wheat /  Pumpernickel / 9Grain

619960  62


Mashes are similar to water roux which is mixture butter and flour. However, the intended purpose of a mash is to convert starch into simpler sugars, not gelatinize the starch. This is done by heating the flour and water mixture for a few hours at around 66°C / 150°F. When flour is cooked in such a way, alpha-amylase enzymes remain intact while beta-amylase enzymes are denatured. Ultimately, mashes lend a sweeter flavour profile to breads.

Mashes are typically mixed whole wheat flour with hot water. By soaking the whole wheat grains, they become softer, more digestible and sweeter.(Sourdough library, sourdough index for amateur home bakers. Differences Between Soakers: Cold Soak, Scald,& Mash).

There are examples what I made below:

  •  Kamut:combine water and kmut flour and then cover with foil and place 66’C warmed oven for an hour.
  •  Spelt:combine water and spelt flour and then cover with foil and place 66’C warmed oven for an hour.
  •  Danish Heavy rye:combine coarse rye(pumpernickel) and water of 38’C

Mash for Kamut

7071 72 73

Mash for Spelt


Mash for Danish Heavy rye bread


How to differ between gluten free natural sour and wheat natural sour


When I took Gluten free course, I interested about gluten free products. After this course, I left much to be desired what I could not think, I could make natural sour using gluten free flour. So, I decided that I compare both of natural sour gluten free flour and wheat flour.

First day, I made whole wheat natural sour which was made one cup of whole wheat flour and one cup of water, whereas gluten free(GF) natural sour which was made half cup of chickpea flour and half cup of water and feed twice a day.


Wheat natural sour GF natural sour
 day1 page89

Second day, When I checked my staters, I could see  dotted with bubbles of surface of both whole wheat and GF natural sour  and  natural sours changed visibly larger in volume. The most interesting happen was that I could hear bubbles popping. Also, both natural sours had a little sour flavor and was musty.  Third day, I could confirm large and small bubbles both natural sours, and they changed doubled in volume. When I stirred my natural sours, I felt looser than previous day and honeycombed with bubbles. And, both natural sous had more strong sour flavor and pungent smell.


Wheat natural sour Gluten free natural sour
 80  81

After third day, both natural sours started to settle into the heavy mass of flour at the bottom and the liquid part floating on top of sours.  My both natural sours separated flour and water getting darker. In addition, they had strong flavor, especially, GF natural sour gave forth a strong scent.



Using these natural sour, I used  recipe of VCC to make Ciabatta.(VCC,2015, p.37)

Whole wheat natural sour


120g/Bread flour/120g



Gluten free natural sour




Ciabatta made Whole wheat natural sour had crispy crust, sour flavor and regular air cell inside of bread. However, the bread had not enough volume.It was so different regular Ciabatta.




Ciabatta made gluten free natrual sour had dense and tough texture. In addition, the bread had too strong smell and low volme. I could not teaste because it was heavy like stone and doughy in side of bread.



After testing, I realized about mistakes when I made natural sours. First, I needed to change Chickpia flour to Sorhum flour because chickpia flour too strong to use natural sour. “Chickpea flour have a raw bean flavour that is not appealing. The taste  is that slightly stronger in flavour than other flour when the product is baked. (Diamond, 2014, p.1077-1080). On the other hand, Sorghum flour has a nutty, hint-of-sweet flavour. It is very neutral-tasting flour that takes on the flavour of the other recipe ingredients. For breads and other baked goods requiring a stronger structure, sorghum flour is best mixed. Sorghum flour can be used in all baked goods such as breads, muffins, loaves, cakes, biscuits, pancakes, crêpes, waffles, cookies, and pie dough.(Diamond, 2014, p.709-719)”. For the reason, I changed chickpea flour to sorghum flour.

Another reason is that I should have discarded some part of both natural sour, i missed it. Discarding old natural sour will help regulate amount of natural sour, keep the natural sour volume the same, helps balance the PH and offers the yeast more food to eat each time when you are feeding.

After learning, I changed flour and discarded some part of flour, finally I could gain natural sours what have soft and fresh flavor whole wheat and gluten free both of them. I could see acting of wild yeast throung these bubbles and volume.

Day7(Which is discarded old natural sour)

Wheat natural sour GF natural sour
  101  100

Also, I made sour bread using sour bread recipe from Internet. I changed some part of the recipe.

Whole wheat natural sour*with Steam
    • 80 g brown rice flour
  • 140 g my sourdough starter
  • 110 g water
  • ———WET———
  • 350 g water at room temp
  • 20 g xanthan gum
  • 10 g ground golden flax seeds
  • ———DRY———
  • 60 g of each
  • – oat flour
  • – buckwheat flour
  • – corn starch
  • – potato starch
  • 20 g dark flax seeds
  • 20 g sesame seeds
  • 20 g sunflower seeds
  • 10 g chia seeds
  • 24 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
Gluten free natural sour*with Steam

*use double pans after steam for ten minutes with foil.

*bake around an hour.

Tillberg, (2015). Bakingmagique. Seeded Gluten Free Sourdough Bread.

You can see beautiful breads what I made~~~ Surprisingly, I gained satisfactory results, I never expected this result. Especially, gluten free bread was amazing.


Whole wheat natural sour bread had nice volume and soft flavor also I tried to score leaves shape, I was satisfied.

Gluten free natural sour bread had perfect volume and flavor what I expected. However, I could not gain nice taste because the bread should be baking more long time.


Through this experiment, I learned that gluten free flour could be role like as natural sour for sour bread. This time, I made natural sour using just two kinds of gluten flour, if I have chance I want to try using more variety flours.


  • History of preferment
  1. Kitchenproject, History of natural sour, the History of sour dough. Retrieved from:
  • Pictures
  1.  Lactobacilluse. D la Terre bakery (2015). Sourdough saves. Retrieved from:
  2. Yeast cell. Copyright © 2004 Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399 USA. Retrieved from:
  • Preferment: Soak, scald and mash
  1. Sourdough library, sourdough index for amateur home bakers. Differences Between Soakers: Cold Soak, Scald,& Mash. Retrieved from:
  • Preferment
  1. Wikipedia. Pre-ferment: Classifications. Retrieved from:
  2. Formerly baking911 crafty baking (2000) by Sarah, P. Pre-ferments. Retrieved from:


  • Soaker
  1. the butcher the Bread Essentials-Preferments and soakers. Retrieved from:
  • Natural sour (experiment)
  1. The kitchn. How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter. Cooking lessons from the kitchn. Retrieved from:
  2. Azeliaskitchen,( 2011). Life Cycle of a Sourdough Starter Part II. Retrieved from:
  3. Flourish (flour/nourish)(2012). How to make your own sourdough starter: the path to great bread. Retrieved from:
  • Gluten free flour
  1. Diamond, Lisa; Hermanson, Areli (2014-03-10). The New Gluten-Free Recipes, Ingredients, Tools and Techniques: Demystifying Gluten-Free Baking – A Resource Guide (Kindle Locations p.709-719, p.1077-1080). FriesenPress. Kindle Edition.
  • Recipe
  1. VCC(2015). Baking and Pastry Arts Recipe, p.37. Artisan baking. Baking & Pastry Arts department.
  2. Tillberg, (2015). Bakingmagique. Seeded Gluten Free Sourdough Bread. Breads&yeasted dough, sourdough. Retrieved from:

About Sarah

My name is Sarah Yeonhee Park. If you would like to know about me more, I would like you to go to my page"About me".

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