WHAT IS A PREFERMENT?
A preferment is a preparation made with water, flour and salt, which is left to ferment for several hours at a constant temperature (usually around 16-18 degrees) and then added to the final dough.
HOW DO YOU MAKE A PREFERMENT?
Like everything else in baking, there is no universal rule for making a preferment: some people prefer it liquid (like a poolish) and others prefer it stiff, or it can simply be a piece of already mixed dough. Some preferments contain salt, others do not. Some are generated with fresh brewer's yeast, some with sourdough yeasts.
For this pizza recipe I used a fairly solid preferment (44% water on total flour), which gave the final product an incredible fragrance, crispness and high digestibility.
This is the basic rule on which I built my own preferment (using fresh brewer's yeast).
% 300W flour desired on total dough flour
44% water, calculated on the biga flour
1% yeast, calculated on the biga flour
WHAT FLOUR DO YOU USE?
In order to obtain an excellent preferment, I recommend a flour with a protein content of at least 13 g and a W of over 300, so that it can withstand the long fermentation times. It is also possible to use wholemeal flour, but in that case increase the water content to 50%.
HOW LONG DOES THE PREFERMENT TAKE?
The ideal maturation temperature for this type of solid preferment is 18-19°C (if you have a cellar in your building or a garage, you can easily store it there!). The important thing is that the temperature remains constant during the 24 hours in which the starter matures.
HOW MUCH PREFERMENT DO I USE?
The amount of pre-preferment used in the final mixture varies depending on the preparation and personal taste. In this case, since it is a pizza dough with high hydration I used 100% of the pre-ferment, so all the flour in my recipe was used to make the pre-ferment.
WHICH IS BETTER, THE PREFERMENT OR THE SOURDOUGH?
There is no better or worse method, and one does not necessarily exclude the other. In fact, in this recipe, I finished the dough by adding some sourdough starter to get even more aroma and flavour.
While sourdough brings natural bacteria and yeasts that no other starter can, guaranteeing a complexity of aromas and flavours that are characteristic only of this method, the preferment can be more convenient to use (in case you don't have sourdough on hand that day) and is much more stable than sourdough, ensuring more consistent results. Using them together (mixed fermentation) allows you to benefit from the advantages of both.
As always, Pastamadre is not here to give you rules to follow, but inspiration and advice to find your own method. (In any case, I recommend you try this recipe because it was really good)!
INGREDIENTS PREPARATION: 2 h of preparation + 24 h of raising time/ SERVING SIZE: 4 people
400 g of Manitoba flour (300 W, 13 g of proteins)
100 g of re-milled durum wheat semolina
220 g of fresh water
5 g of fresh yeast
165 g of cold water
30 g of refreshed sourdough starter (optional)
12,2 g of salt
5 g of olive oil
5 g of malt (or honey)
70g of fiordilatte mozzarella
60 g of mortadella
100 g of burrata
Pistacchio cream and pistacchio crumbles (optional)
Start mixing the preferment 30 hours before you want to eat your pizza.
Kneading time should not exceed 2/3 min, it can be done by hand or with a mixer. Place the preferment in an oiled container and cover with a kitchen cloth and the container lid on top. The preferment should breathe but must not take in too much air otherwise it will form a crust on the surface.
Let it ferment 24 hours at 16-18 degrees.
After 24 hours your preferment should look like this:
Now prepare the final dough.