This starter dough (preferment) really makes a difference in the quality of your bread. I freeze it in 1/4 cup pieces and keep it always on hand. It defrosts pretty fast, but you can also use your microwave on the defrost setting to speed things up. It only takes a 20 or so seconds in the microwave on defrost. 


  • 3/4 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast 
  • 1/2 cup Warm Water (105°) 
  • 3 1/2 cups Flour, unbleached 
  • 1 1/4 cup Cool Water 

The Il Fornaio 

Baking Book



Mix the yeast with the warm water and let sit until creamy. Add the flour and cool water and mix, then stir in the same direction to develop the gluten. It should be a pasty, not runny, dough. Cover tightly in a container twice the size of the dough and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. It continues to slowly ferment in the fridge and is good for up to 2 weeks.

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