Autolyse and poolish
This is my first post here, but I've been lurking on the forum and gathering inspiration for some time now.
I've recently been working on experimenting and improving my French-style bread baking. Over the last bit of time, I've been baking usually every other day and trying different techniques, ratios, etc. What has seemed to work for me has been to really let time do its thing and to work the dough sparingly but deliberately.
So far, I've come up with the following observations for my own baking:
- Autolyse works wonders; I usually mix only the flour and water and let it autolyse for ~30 minutes before mixing in salt and yeast then kneading.
- I have been making relatively high hydration doughs (anywhere from 70%+) and experimenting off of the classic French "base recipe" of 1kg flour, 700g water, 25g salt, 15g yeast.
- I have adopted the "Bertinet method" or French-style of kneading so that I work the dough as little as possible while kneading it. Sometimes I either forego kneading completely or combine with some stretch and folds before bulk fermentation to improve the body of a particularly sticky dough (it's been incredibly humid these past weeks).
- I find using only KA bread flour gives a crumb that is slightly too chewy for my taste and thus I typically mix some KA unbleached bread flour with KA unbleached AP to get a bit closer to French style flour; though the ash content is not there.
- I've been using Sylvia's famous magic towel method for steaming the oven when baking on stone; otherwise for boules, I use dutch oven.
So, this brings me to my question. One thing I find still lacking is a strong fermented taste, which comes from a longer, slower fermentation. (It has been so warm, a typical bulk ferment has been 1-1.5hrs, then a 20 min bench rest and similar proof.) I used to bake SD, but let my starter kick the bucket. I am in the process of building up a new starter now from scratch, and will soon be into SD again, but I also want to experiment with using a poolish to improve flavor.
When doing so, I am curious as to what works best when using poolish with an autolyse ... Should the poolish be started early and then mixed in before the autolyse period? Should I mix flour and water (minus amounts in the poolish), autolyse, then mix in the poolish?
Essentially, with any pre-ferment either a poolish, sponge, biga, etc. or a levain, when is the best moment to incorporate it into a budding dough if I want to maintain an autolyse period? I am really curious to hear if anyone else has experimented with this.
Thanks, all, for any help, sharing of your own experiences and experimentation, and/or geeking out on this.