In searching for a recipe for moist kouglof, I came across une recette with a pre-ferment method I've never seen before. Is anyone familiar with this technique? And what might be the rationale behind it?
My rough translation follows (I've provided a link to the recipe for thems as reads French):
Put 50g of cake&pastry flour into a bowl or a bread-machine pan, and make a pit in the middle. Put 1 packet of instant yeast into the pit*. Using your fingertips, mix the flour and yeast with 30ml (2 tablespoons) of water so as to form a ball of slightly thick paste**. Cover this completely with 250g of the 300g of flour called for in the recipe for the dough. Let this sit 1 hour in a spot away from air currents, like a closed bread machine (not running), or a slightly warm spot if possible, like an oven with its interior light on. As it ferments, the "levain-levure" (sponge?) will swell and push the flour so that cracks appear on the surface.
After that one hour, one adds milk, eggs, sugar, salt and the last 50g of flour, and lets the bread machine knead it for 10 minutes. One then adds soft butter and then runs the bread machine for another 10 minutes, etc.
Has anyone come across this method before?
* The recipe calls for a brand which comes in packets of 5.5g.
** The problem of translating "une boule de pâte un peu épaisse": 'pâte' can be dough or batter or paste. I guessed 'paste' because a ball is too thick for batter, and it seems to me that dough cannot be merely 'a little thick'. Not having tried the technique, I do not know what the consistency would be like.