Also Known As Mother Dough, Biga, Poolish, Sponge, Flour Brew, Pâte Fermentée
What is a Preferment?
Preferments are used at the start of the breadmaking process and are referred to as an indirect method. A piece of dough made by flour, water and yeast is prepared and allowed to ferment for a period of time under controlled conditions before incorporating it back in the final mix. A pre-ferment is used to activate the yeast, enhance the flavor as well as the aroma, and further dough development. It is the beginning part of a dough system.
There are three basic types of preferments used in high speed manufacturing. The first type is known as a sponge or “plastic” preferment, usually containing about 70 percent of the total dough flour and undergoes fermentation in a trough for three to four hours. The second type is the flour brew or liquid sponge. Liquid sponge usually contains about 10 to 50 % of the total dough flour and ferments in a tank for one to two hours. The third and final type is the water-brew or flour-free ferment. The water-brew method usually contains sugar instead of flour and ferments in a tank for about an hour.
Prefermented dough also could be a piece of dough saved from a previous mix. The dough to be used as a preferment for next production should be taken right after the first fermentation and stored in the refrigerator. Prefermented dough can be used in many different products: bread, croissant, brioche, Danish, etc.