Author Topic: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?  (Read 851 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 16298
  • Location: Houston, TX
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« on: August 06, 2015, 03:09:44 PM »
I was pondering Mike's post where he groups starter and poolish:

Working on a dough with a starter right now. First time in a couple of years, I think, that I've used a starter/poolish.

According to the Glossary, the definition of starter is:
STARTER: See PREFERMENT.

I don't agree with that. A starter could be used as a preferment, but I don't think it necessarily has to be a preferment.  When I use 1-2% starter, I wouldn't consider that a preferment and more than I consider re-hydrating ADY with some flour or sugar a preferment. Either is the direct method and not a preferment, IMO.

Thoughts?
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage


Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23605
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 04:06:21 PM »
Craig,

As you can see from Reply 19 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1466.msg18706#msg18706 and the posts that followed, as the primary author of the Glossary (which Steve later modified and supplemented), I was responsible for the disconnect that you mentioned. That was back in 2005, at a time where I was getting my feet wet on starters and preferments. But I agree with you that a starter does not have to be what we most commonly refer to as a preferment. As you can see from Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=4764.msg40475;topicseen#msg40475 , I excepted from the definition of a preferment the use of a starter as a strictly leavening agent. However, that didn't stop me from including such a starter in the definition of a preferment in the context of the preferment dough calculating tool, as can be seen in the opening paragraph of http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=4996.msg42266#msg42266 .

As with any document that is over ten years old, the Glossary could be improved by correcting incorrect statements, deleting some material, updating other material, and adding new material.

Peter

Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 05:17:17 PM »
From the Pizza Bible:

Quote
A starter (also known as a preferment) is a mixture of flour and water fermented with yeast.

There's your answer.

Offline deb415611

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1627
  • Location: CT
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 05:42:37 PM »
King Arthur's definition:

preferments
A preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough.
The subject of preferments is one that can cause immense confusion among bakers. The variety of terminology can bewilder even the most experienced among us. Words from foreign languages add their contribution to the complexity.

A preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough. The preferment can be of a stiff texture, it can be quite loose in texture, or it can simply be a piece of mixed bread dough. Some preferments contain salt, others do not. Some are generated with commercial yeast, some with naturally occurring wild yeasts. After discussing the specific attributes of a number of common preferments, we will list the benefits gained from their use.

chef  pâte fermentée   levain   sponge  madre bianca   mother   biga   poolish   sourdough     starter
These terms all pertain to preferments; some are quite specific, some broad and general. The important thing to remember is that, just as daffodils, roses, and tulips all are specific plants that fall beneath the heading of “flowers,” in a similar way the above terms all are in the category of “preferments.” Let’s examine several of the terms listed in more detail.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/preferments.html
Deb

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23605
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2015, 05:57:48 PM »
This is my "bible" on preferments:

http://web.archive.org/web/20040814193817/cafemeetingplace.com/archives/food3_apr2004.htm

As can be seen from the above article, there is a quantitative aspect for preferments, whether they are with respect to the formula flour, formula water or total dough weight. Using a natural starter at 1-5% of formula water does not satisfy that quantitative aspect. Also, most preferments, including some that may be naturally leavened at high levels, produce a substantial amount of acids that tighten the dough structure. This is unlikely when using only 1-5% of the formula water. Further, most preferments are intended to shorten production time. A natural leaven at 1-5% of formula water does not do that.

Tony G's book has no recipes calling for use of a natural starter.

I think nuevoyork is pulling our leg ;D.

Peter

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 16298
  • Location: Houston, TX
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2015, 06:17:40 PM »
To me, the definition is simply that if you are only inoculating the dough, it's not a preferment - else re-hydrating ADY is a preferment.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2015, 06:27:07 PM »
Tony G's book has no recipes calling for use of a natural starter.

Craig asked "Is a starter necessarily a preferment?"  I can't speak to a 'natural starter,' but Tony G says that a starter and a preferment are the same thing.  He also has 2 recipes that use a starter: Master Dough w/ Starter and Sicilian Dough w/ Starter.

Your link, while a fascinating read, makes no reference to the word 'starter.'

I've got the Pizza Bible right in front of me and am quoting it.  No leg pulling here. If anyone would know what a starter is, it would be Tony G, right?

Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2015, 06:40:24 PM »
To me, the definition is simply that if you are only inoculating the dough, it's not a preferment - else re-hydrating ADY is a preferment.

Re-hydrating ADY doesn't involve flour.  A starter, whether or not it contains harvested yeast or packaged yeast, because it always contains flour, is technically a dough and because it's always made ahead of the rest of the dough, it's considered a pre-ferment.

Offline parallei

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 568
  • Location: Denver
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2015, 06:55:03 PM »
I've got the Pizza Bible right in front of me and am quoting it.  No leg pulling here. If anyone would know what a starter is, it would be Tony G, right?

No.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 06:56:37 PM by parallei »


Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23605
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2015, 07:10:36 PM »
Craig asked "Is a starter necessarily a preferment?"  I can't speak to a 'natural starter,' but Tony G says that a starter and a preferment are the same thing.  He also has 2 recipes that use a starter: Master Dough w/ Starter and Sicilian Dough w/ Starter.

Your link, while a fascinating read, makes no reference to the word 'starter.'
The two "starters" that Tony G mentions in his book are a poolish and a biga/tiga, both of which are commercially leavened.

With respect to the article I referenced, if you read the Definition section, it mentions that the yeast can be either commercial or natural. Pesumably, a natural preferment would have to be used in a quantity much grater than 1-5% to achieve the desired end results.

As I understand it, Craig's question is whether a starter has to be a preferment. I say that the answer is no.

Peter

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 16298
  • Location: Houston, TX
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2015, 07:39:47 PM »
Re-hydrating ADY doesn't involve flour.  A starter, whether or not it contains harvested yeast or packaged yeast, because it always contains flour, is technically a dough and because it's always made ahead of the rest of the dough, it's considered a pre-ferment.

A dough doesn't have to contain flour - at least not wheat flour.

It's the purpose not the process that defines a preferment. With only a couple %, it does not add a meaningful amount of flavor, so calling it a preferment is nonsensical. It's simply inoculating the dough.

Using a starter can be direct or indirect method. Using a preferment is by definition indirect. Thus the two are not necessarily interchangeable.


"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 16298
  • Location: Houston, TX
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2015, 07:40:11 PM »
Craig asked "Is a starter necessarily a preferment?"  I can't speak to a 'natural starter,' but Tony G says that a starter and a preferment are the same thing.  He also has 2 recipes that use a starter: Master Dough w/ Starter and Sicilian Dough w/ Starter.

Your link, while a fascinating read, makes no reference to the word 'starter.'

I've got the Pizza Bible right in front of me and am quoting it.  No leg pulling here. If anyone would know what a starter is, it would be Tony G, right?

Where is scott when we need him?  :-D
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2015, 07:44:36 PM »
The two "starters" that Tony G mentions in his book are a poolish and a biga/tiga, both of which are commercially leavened.

With respect to the article I referenced, if you read the Definition section, it mentions that the yeast can be either commercial or natural.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but it looks like Didier and Tony are in agreement.

Here's everything Tony has to say on Starters in his book:

Quote
STARTERS

Starters are another “secret” that will make a huge difference in your pizzas. Making a dough with a starter is sometimes known as the “indirect method,” because the ingredients are combined in more than one phase. A starter (also known as a preferment) is a mixture of flour and water fermented with yeast. That yeast can be the packaged kind, it can be “harvested” from grape skins or other fruits and vegetables, or it can simply be the natural airborne yeast that’s floating all around us (as in my Bran Starter on this page). For most of my starters, I like the control and consistency of good packaged yeast.

A starter can be thick like dough or as liquid as a thin batter. It can even be nothing more than a bit of proofed dough from a previous batch. You may be familiar with the idea of feeding starters to keep them “alive” indefinitely. In my restaurants, we use both starters made in that way and starters we make from scratch every time, the day before we’ll be using them. For beginner home pizza makers, I recommend always making starters from scratch the day before you make your dough. It’s easier and you’ll get more consistent results. Once you become more familiar with preferments, you can experiment with other kinds, like levain or natural fruit–based starters.

Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2015, 07:51:30 PM »
It's the purpose not the process that defines a preferment. With only a couple %, it does not add a meaningful amount of flavor, so calling it a preferment is nonsensical. It's simply inoculating the dough.

So a starter that uses harvested yeast and prepared prior to adding to the dough doesn't involve fermentation? If there's fermentation in the starter, even if the starter only comprises a small amount of the dough, it's still fermentation before the main fermentation and thus qualifies as a pre-ferment.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 16298
  • Location: Houston, TX
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2015, 08:01:06 PM »
So a starter that uses harvested yeast and prepared prior to adding to the dough doesn't involve fermentation? If there's fermentation in the starter, even if the starter only comprises a small amount of the dough, it's still fermentation before the main fermentation and thus qualifies as a pre-ferment.

If you add some sugar to the ADY when you prove it, there is fermentation, so that is also a preferment?

The production of commercial yeast involves fermentation. By your definition, there is no such thing as the direct method at all. Everything would be a preferment.

"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2015, 08:06:45 PM »
If you add some sugar to the ADY when you prove it, there is fermentation, so that is also a preferment?

The production of commercial yeast involves fermentation. By your definition, there is no such thing as the direct method at all. Everything would be a preferment.

(bold mine)

Quote
A starter (also known as a preferment) is a mixture of flour and water fermented with yeast.

If there's no flour, it's not a preferment.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 16298
  • Location: Houston, TX
    • Craig's Neapolitan Garage
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2015, 08:07:43 PM »
If there's no flour, it's not a preferment.

Says who?
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage


Offline nuevoyork

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 30
  • Location: Fort Lee, NJ
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2015, 08:16:16 PM »
Says who?

Says Tony.  This is all from the Pizza Bible.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1607746050/?tag=pmak-20

Scott has pointed out a few discrepancies with the book, but, from what I've seen, he hasn't mentioned this.  Are you saying that Tony is wrong about starters?

Offline Essen1

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3839
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2015, 10:15:07 PM »
No.

Care to elaborate why you think he knows nothing about starters, poolishes, preferments, bigas, mother doughs, old doughs, natural starters, etc?

I've seen tubs full of preferments, starters, poolishes, bigas and what not at his pizza shops. Me thinks if he wouldn't know anything about it, he wouldn't use them.



P.S.: Sorry to all for using an incorrect term for what I have in my glass jar right now. Didn't mean to create a shitstorm over a wrong term.  ::)
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

Offline parallei

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 568
  • Location: Denver
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2015, 10:34:56 PM »
Care to elaborate why you think he knows nothing about starters, poolishes, preferments, bigas, mother doughs, old doughs, natural starters, etc?

I've seen tubs full of preferments, starters, poolishes, bigas and what not at his pizza shops. Me thinks if he wouldn't know anything about it, he wouldn't use them.

P.S.: Sorry to all for using an incorrect term for what I have in my glass jar right now. Didn't mean to create a shitstorm over a wrong term.  ::)

Mike - I didn't say "he knows nothing" about..........

That said, when folks here are talking about a biga or poolish they are talking about something different than a starter.  Biga/poolish = commercial yeast, typically as a fairly large portion of the finished dough.  Typically, "stater" = sourdough = "natural" leavening = lievito naturale, blah, blah........

In my mind, you could use a stater/sourdough/lievito naturale to produce a preferment (leaven) or a commercial yeast to do the same.

I think it is wrong to call a starter and preferment the same thing.  But hey, that's just me.  I'd like to go to Tony's joint in North Beach sometime.  I was brought up just over west near Hyde and Vallejo.  Your joint too when it opens!   



« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 10:55:48 PM by parallei »

Offline vtsteve

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 463
  • Location: Vermont, USA
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2015, 12:54:45 AM »
With only 1.5% culture, the whole dough is closer to a 'washed starter' (plus salt) than anything else. When I'm building a preferment for bread (20-40% of final dough flour), I inoculate it with 5-7% (preferment flour weight) of 'mother' culture.


It's the purpose not the process that defines a preferment. With only a couple %, it does not add a meaningful amount of flavor, so calling it a preferment is nonsensical. It's simply inoculating the dough.

I would agree... it's a common technique in bread baking (yes, I know... :)) that *less* starter (hence a longer fermentation of all the flour, and a greater buildup of organic acids) will result in more flavor, and a large amount of preferment (with the resulting fast rise) means less flavor contribution from fermentation of the dough flour -- the major flavor contribution is from the preferment only.

The 'jug yeast' concept applies nicely, but aside from one old post on The Fresh Loaf, I can only find bourbon references.   >:D

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/107137#comment-107137
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 08:58:49 AM by vtsteve »
In grams we trust.

Offline Essen1

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3839
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2015, 02:41:09 PM »
Mike - I didn't say "he knows nothing" about..........

That said, when folks here are talking about a biga or poolish they are talking about something different than a starter.  Biga/poolish = commercial yeast, typically as a fairly large portion of the finished dough.  Typically, "stater" = sourdough = "natural" leavening = lievito naturale, blah, blah........

In my mind, you could use a stater/sourdough/lievito naturale to produce a preferment (leaven) or a commercial yeast to do the same.

I think it is wrong to call a starter and preferment the same thing.  But hey, that's just me.  I'd like to go to Tony's joint in North Beach sometime.  I was brought up just over west near Hyde and Vallejo.  Your joint too when it opens!   

Para,

Fair enough.

Let me know when you're in town and we'll check his place out.
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

Offline corkd

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 297
  • Location: syracuse, ny
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Is a starter necessarily a preferment?
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2015, 01:14:30 PM »
I was pondering Mike's post......

Thoughts?
To stay with your original idea-
For me, I use my starter to make my preferment/levain when I need one for bread baking.
So in my kitchen the 2 are not the same.

I have used large quantities of active starter in place of  the usual quantity of preferment/levain, which both shortens the ferment time and produces a different tasting bread.

Didier Rosada's guidelines work well for me.

Clay


 

pizzapan