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.
Add 3/4 of the remaining water, making sure it's cold, the malt and the sourdough starter, if you have it and start kneading.
If you are kneading by hand, I recommend doing it directly in the bowl because the dough will be very sticky. If you are kneading with a mixer, use the medium speed for about 10 minutes.
Once the dough has taken shape, add all the salt and mix. Then add the oil in a trickle, allowing it to be slowly absorbed. Continue kneading until your dough is smooth and homogeneous (more or less 5 more minutes).
If you have trouble kneading because the it is too sticky, leave the dough to rest, and after 10 minutes try to knead it again.
Transfer the finished dough into an oiled container and cover. Leave it at room temperature and fold twice, once every 30 minutes to give the dough structure.
After these 60 minutes, leave the dough to rise at room temperature for another hour (or until doubled in size).
Flour a wooden surface with semolina, turn the dough out onto the table and form 250 g loaves. Try to give them a round shape while incorporating the air into the dough.
Cover the balls with a kitchen cloth and a plastic or non-breathable bag on top, and leave them to rise for 4 hours at room temperature (24-26°C).
Once the rising time is over, the dough should be rolled out on a floured surface with your hands, pressed with your fingertips to form a disc.
Summary of the rising process:
> 12 pm day before: preferment
+ 24h : final dough
+ 30 min : 1st fold
+ 30 min : 2nd fold
+ 1h: dough rising at a.t.
+ 4/6 h : round loaves rising
> 19 h : eating time
Transfer each pizza to an aluminium baking tin previously greased with evo oil (if it is a non-stick tray, no oil is needed), brush the surface with a mixture of water and oil so that it does not dry out during cooking. Let it rest for another 15 min and bake at 250°C in a static oven for 5-6 minutes. Add the fiordilatte and bake for another 3 min. Once baked, finish with mortadella, burrata, pistachio cream and crumbled pistachios.
- Try to observe the kneading times: over-kneaded preferments mature prematurely due to the heating of the dough. Preferments which have been kneaded too little develop excessive surface incrustation due to poor water absorption.
- It is very important to observe the rising times, otherwise the risk is to end up having an over-proofed dough (flat and hard pizza) or not proofed enough (heavy to digest).
- It is essential that the oven is very hot and does not lose temperature: I advise you to be very quick when putting the pizza in the oven and never open the door during the first 5 minutes of cooking.
- For an even better result, I recommend using a refractory stone or a home pizza oven (like the ones we use at Pastamadre), which allows you to cook at higher temperatures. With a refractory stone, you do not need to use a baking tray and the bottom of the pizza will cook optimally.
- If you want to be extra sure that your pizza dough won’t stick to the cooking pan, spread some semolina flour on the pan.
- You can freeze ready made pizza! Simply take them out of the freezer two hours before eating them and heat them at 200 degrees for 5 minutes maximum.