LAB - Pre-ferments: Poolish and Sponges

Course Description:

This course module extends students’ study and practice with pre-ferments (poolish and sponges), as a way to expand the recipe palette and production repertoire. Students create a variety of breads with poolish and sponges, such as country bread, soft pretzel, Pain Brie, and whole wheat bread. Students explore how the same breads made with different pre-ferments result in a completely changed product, and become more attuned to the nuances of how the pre-ferment affects taste, texture, and appearance of both crumb and crust. Students continue developing and practicing their essential concepts and skills in working through the bread-making process by mixing and shaping doughs, as well as applying the key organizational skills needed to produce saleable products. Additionally, students study wheat agriculture and the milling process, to better understand the range of flours available as well as their styles. Students also delve deeper into the roles of yeast and salt in developing doughs and breads, and learn how mistakes are made in creating breads, as well as how to correct them.


Students the Course is Expected to Serve:

This course is a necessary component to completing the 10-week L’Art de la Boulangerie – The Artisanal Break Baking Program.


Pre-requisites and Co-requisites:

Pre-requisites for this course include Food Service Safety & Sanitation, Food Service Theory & Basic Skills, and Fundamentals of French Breads, or consent of the Dean for Student Affairs. Co-requisites include Levains & Starters: Techniques & Applications; Specialty Whole Grain and Organic Breads; Breakfast Pastries & Viennoiseries; Advanced Breakfast Pastries & Viennoiseries; Specialty Breads from France & Around the World.


Training Objectives:

  • In order to broaden the recipe and production repertoire, the student will learn how to create additional types of pre-ferments (i.e., poolish and sponges).
  • The student will use these pre-ferments to prepare a variety of recipes such as country bread, soft pretzel, pain brie, and whole wheat bread, comparing the taste, texture, and appearance of crust and crumb in each.
  • The student will learn additional shaping, proofing, and baking techniques best suited for the bread-making process.
  • The student will learn how wheat is grown, cultivated, and processed, and how these factors affect the nature of flours available to the artisanal bread chef.
  • The student will explore further the interactions of yeast and salt in preparing doughs, and how varying these interactions affects bread end products.
  • The student will investigate how mistakes are made in bread production, as well as how to correct them.


Student Learning Outcomes:

  • The student will make additional pre-ferments (i.e., poolish and sponges) and use them to create a variety of recipes such as country bread, soft pretzel, pain brie, and whole wheat bread to meet saleable production standards.
  • The student will be able to explain the reasons for the differences of taste, texture, and appearance in crumb and crust, based on the specific pre-ferment used to create the bread.
  • The student will be able to explain how wheat is grown, cultivated, and processed, and how these factors affect the nature of flours available to the artisanal bread chef.
  • The student will be able to identify how mistakes are made in bread production, as well as be able to demonstrate how to correct mistakes when they occur.


Course Outline:

  • Creating pre-ferments (i.e., poolish and sponges).(3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Using poolish and sponges (pre-ferments) to make a variety of recipes such as country bread, soft pretzel, pain brie, and whole wheat bread. (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Varying pre-ferments to bread recipes, to identify the effect of pre-ferment on end product. (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • The bread making process: shaping dough, proofing, and baking. (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Technology of flour: wheat agriculture and the milling process. Yeast and salt: how these ingredients affect end products.  (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)


Methods of Instruction*:

  • Lectures
  • Whole-group discussions facilitated by the chef instructor
  • Technique and recipe demonstrations by the chef instructor
  • Chef instructor-supervised production of recipes by students


Methods of Evaluation*:

  • Appropriate and accurate responses to instructor’s questions during demonstrations and class discussions
  • Chef instructor observations during recipe production