The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

poolish

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EdTheEngineer's picture
EdTheEngineer

Greetings everyone!


This is my first post, having been lurking here for a few weeks. This is a fabulous website and it has accelerated my learning and increased my enjoyment of my new hobby a great deal. I started baking bread a few months ago as an antidote to revision for my university finals. My initial attempts were flat and dense bricks and puddles, more like squashed soda breads. But since finding this site a few weeks ago I've been inspired to put a bit more energy in and try out some of the techniques I've been reading about and watching on the various youtube videos dotted around.


I thought yesterday that I'd have a first attempt at baguettes, having previously been put off by reading it was difficult to make an actual 'baguette' rather than baguette-shaped sandwich bread. The first hit in the search was the Anis Bouabsa recipe. I wanted to have them ready for this evening's dinner so couldn't quite stick to the method prescribed. My method was:


- Poolish - 250g flour, 2g yeast, @100% hydration. Fridge for 7 hours.


- Allow an hour to warm, add the rest of the ingredients. Fridge for 2 hours then in the pantry (which is about 10 degrees C at the moment) for 5 hours. 


- Pre-shape and rest for 40 mins


- Proof for about 50 mins


I slit and sprayed with water, then put them (on baking paper) on the floor of the Aga, which has had a small pan of water on a higher shelf boiling away for the duration for constant steam. Took about 35 minutes to cook - a bit longer than the recipe says - the floor of the Aga is at a lower temperature than the recipe calls for but my feeling is that having them directly on a nice, big, heavy, high thermal mass aga oven floor is A Good Thing. I don't have a stone slab but I guess putting that higher in the oven would be the better way to do it.


I wasn't expecting much - this was a real step up in shaping complexity (I was guided by the <i>excellent</i> Ciril Hitz videos) and more difficult slashing than my usual cave-man technique. But I was pleasantly surprised by what came out of the oven!


Three Baguettes


You can see my shaping is a bit inconsistant (not to mention wrong in ways that are less immediately obvious to me!) but they just about look the part. They sang and crackled promisingly on the cooling rack and I had to try one before dinner. You know, just to test... it tore just like the baguettes I've had in france and biting in was a lovely crunch followed by tasty chewiness. The crumb was on the right lines, I think:


 


Baguette Crumb


 


I'm really quite excited to try this again. Next time I'll plan ahead more thoroughly and give it the 21 hours fridge fermentation that the original recipe calls for. I'll not bother with the poolish stage either (I did it as I thought it might give me the flavours and gluten development a little quicker).


I've been getting quite into using a poolish. I've just come back from a bit of travelling and decided tot to make a sourdough starter until i got back (just so I could be around to care for it) so a poolish seemed like a good stop-gap for getting a bit more flavour out of the flour. For fun, here's a photo of another recent session.


- 1kg of flour (2/3 whole grain 1/3 strong white), 500g of which was in a 100% hydration poolish overnight in the fridge. 


- 20g salt.


- 20g fresh yeast


- teaspoon of dark brown sugar.


Produced a pair of boules, finished in different ways:


Pair of boules


I cut the slashes quite deel on the nearer boule, but the loaf still sprang right up to the point of stretching them out flush with the rest of the crust. Given they have so much spring left to give, should I prove them a bit longer?


Anyway, thanks for reading, now I need to go an feed my new starter!


 


Ed 

houstonwong's picture

Buns/rolls made with French bread dough

December 1, 2010 - 11:07pm -- houstonwong

My sister loves dinner rolls/buns. So I figure I'd use it as a chance to really try out French folding. My previous attempts have been somewhat half-hearted. But this time, I thought I’d really do it right, focusing on stretching and trapping air.


 


For the formula:


Strong Canadian white flour 13.3% protein


75% hydration


0.5-0.6% instant yeast


2% table salt


 

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, this week was a little disappointing one in baguette land.


I only made two seemingly minor (intentional) changes from last week:  First, I endeavored to proof until the baguettes "felt ready" (about 65 minutes this week), rather than waiting for a 75 minute proof.  That I think went well.  Second, I switched from KA Bread Flour to Stone Buhr White Bread Flour.  I generally prefer the Stone-Buhr, but my local grocery stores stopped stocking it.  Last week,  all of a sudden Save-Mart had a small supply with a "Close-Out" price-tag, and I snapped up 3 bags while I had the chance.  In the past, I've gotten much more sweet, nutty wheat flavor out of the Stone-Buhr in breads that rely heavily on the flour for flavor, such as baguettes. In particular, Stone-Buhr gave better results than the KA, Gold Medal, or the Sunny-Select store brand with Peter Reinhart's formula for pain a l'ancienne, which I used to make pretty frequently.  For several editions of my weekly baguette quest, when I've liked the shape and scoring, but not the flavor, I've wondered if a little Stone-Buhr would fix everything.


Anyway, the big problem this week is that the poolish over-proofed after only 10 hours on my counter--I could smell the booziness of it but forged ahead, and ended up with somewhat pale, chewy bread. Ah well. The big question is this: why did it overproof so fast?  I have a few potential theories:



  1. The flour is to blame: Perhaps Stone Buhr has more free sugars, which explains my experience of great flavor, and a fast proof.

  2. The yeast is to blame: I may have over-yeasted the poolish.  I've been trying to approximate 1/16 teaspoon of yeast by half-filling a 1/8 teaspoon measure, and it isn't easy.

  3. My apartment is to blame: The apartment was a bit warmer than usual Saturday morning when I took temperatures in order to figure out the right water temp.


Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Anyway, here are the results.  Only two baguettes are pictured because I sent one home with my parents (who had stopped by to see their grand-daughter) prior to taking a picture.  Take my word for it that baguette #3 looked much like #1 and #2.


Exterior


 

Crumb

Crust was pale, and very tough and chewy.  Scoring placement was pretty good, although I'm thinking part of the problem is that I'm not scoring deep enough.  Crumb was moderately open, but oddly dry.  Flavor wasn't too bad despite all that.

At least I had more luck with my Sunday bake, a rendition of dmsnyder's lovely San Joaquin Sourdough.  Haven't sampled the inside, but the outsides look nice and they smell phenomenal.  Still, for a picture I decided they needed a cute-ness enhancer.

 

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Last Saturday I made my sixth consecutive attempt at baking Hamelman's Baguettes With Poolish.  My report on it is very late, and my procedure had a couple of forced errors (for a very good reason I'll get to in a moment), but I got some very good results nonetheless.


The key factor affecting both the late report and the minor errors in production is that when I measured my poolish at 10:30pm on Friday night, my wife at that time was exactly 40 weeks pregnant.  Her water broke a little before 7am on Saturday.  We were off to the hospital and I was more than ready to write the poolish off as a loss, but the midwife sent us home to wait for labor to begin in earnest, and so when we got home at 10am, I set about making my baguettes to pass the time.


So I had a poolish that was slightly overfermented (if you haven't been following this series of  blog posts, I've found that I need to start the final dough after 10-ish hours for best results).  I went ahead anyway, prepared to toss the whole thing if we had to run to the hospital.  As it happened, I got the baguettes made and out of the oven while my wife was still having sporadic contractions.  As with last week, I tried extending the final proof to 75 minutes (up from 60 in previous bakes), although I may have been off by a few minutes, since my wife and I went for a long walk during the proof in order to get contractions going, and I didn't pay close enough attention to the time (I'd set the timer for 60 minutes, and it had gone off when we got back, but that was all I knew).


We headed out to the hospital for real just before dinner time, but I ended up cutting into one of the baguettes and scarfing it down while my wife was on the phone with the midwife.


The Results: Exterior


The Results: Crumb

The baguettes were a little pale, and the crust a little chewier than last week--both results of the poolish over-fermenting, I'm pretty sure.  The cuts are much improved, though I still need to put a little more angle on them so they don't merge so much.  The crumb on the baguette I cut was great in some places, but a little tight in others.  However, the texture of the crumb was just lovely--finally creamy rather than at all fluffy.  The flavor was up a couple notches from previous weeks as well.   I think if I do everything the same, but get the poolish right next week, I should be well on my way (though it will take much more practice to get the cuts and crumb reliable, I'm sure).

So I'm fairly proud of these baguettes.  That said, I am infinitely prouder of the other "bun" pulled out of the oven last weekend, my beautiful daughter Miriam Bell Sandler, born at 12:18 pm on November 7th.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I didn't get around to posting yesterday, but I made my 5th weekly batch of Hamelman's baguette's with Poolish.


I had a whole story about what I changed from last week and why, but accidentally hit reload and lost it all.  So I'll be brief.  The changes this week:



I forgot to turn the oven on when I meant to and did a final proof of 75 minutes instead of 60, while raised the preheat temperature to 550 for only 30 minutes to compensate for the stone being cold.


The Results: Exterior


 

Results: Crumb

 

I had a lot less luck with scoring this week--the lame kept dragging rather than cutting cleanly.  I'm not sure if this was from proofing longer--I also didn't cover the baguettes as thoroughly with the folds of my make-shift couche as I have been doing.  Crumb is clearly pretty tight, which is probably my fault; I still need more practice at being sufficiently gentle with these baguettes (or could that be over-proofing too?).  That said, the crumb had a nicer texture to it than I've been getting, and better flavor as well.  The crust was great--crisp all around, and just a little chewy.  A little over-dark on the bottom on account of overheating the stone, but even that wasn't too bad.  If I never get my crust any better, I think I could live with that.

I'm really not sure if this week's batch  was overproofed, or if other problems led to my scoring and crumb issues.  I'm going to stick with the 75 minute proof and see what happens if I do everything else right.  So my plan for next week is to change nothing except a) Be even more gentle when shaping, and b) be more careful about covering the baguettes while proofing.  I'll see how it goes.

Happy baking, everyone.

-Ryan

 

Franko's picture
Franko

 


Last week my wife Marie asked me if I could make her a loaf of Spelt bread without using any regular wheat flour in it since she has problems digesting typical wheat based breads. Up till now she's been buying a spelt bread available at our local supermarket that's one of those flash frozen par-baked things that have become so common in supermarket bakeries these days. Not being a bread purist, she been quite happy with it despite my looks askance, but I wonder if maybe some of the things I've been learning from TFL and discussing with her might have rubbed off. At any rate I've been wanting to make a bread for her that she could enjoy, and happy she asked me since spelt is a grain I've never used previously and was interested to try it out.


Richard Bertinet's new book 'Crust' has a recipe for a pure spelt bread in it which I showed to Marie, and she thought it sounded fine, but asked if I could include some nuts and/or seeds, maybe some oatmeal as well for a little variety. I think if she hadn't asked me first I would have suggested it, as the recipe seemed a little plain for our tastes. I picked up a bag of 100% whole grain spelt flour from our local health food/organic grocery that's milled by Nunweiler's Flour Co out of Saskatchewan, and a certified organic mill. They have a line of various whole grain flours including, dark rye, buckwheat, as well as whole wheat and AP. Link included below for anyone interested, although I doubt you would be able to find it outside of Canada.


 


Bertinet's formula is pretty straightforward other than using a poolish of spelt flour, which I made up the night before, as well as an oatmeal soaker to be included in the final mix. Next morning I toasted some sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a 380F oven for about 8 minutes, and let them cool before proceeding with the mix. I thought I might have to increase the flour ratio somewhat because of the extra water I included to the formula from the oatmeal soaker but the oatmeal absorbed almost all the water, contributing little to the overall mix, with just the water called for in the recipe being added. The dough had a bulk ferment of an hour, followed by a light rounding and a 15 minute rest, then shaped and placed in a floured brotform. The rise took just under an hour, which after having made long rising levain style breads for the last few bakes kind of took me by surprise. I think it made a good loaf, but more importantly Marie really likes it, saying it has so much more flavour and texture than the stuff she was buying from the store, which I told her was a result of having used a preferment in the mix. The technical details aside, it seems I'll be making this bread on a regular basis from here on, the only change being to increase the percentage of seeds by double or more. Recipe and photos below.


Note: the recipe below has been edited from the originaly posted formula due to some errors and miscalculations recently brought to my attention. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused anyone.


Franko


Richard Bertinet's Spelt Bread-adapted and halved


Ingredients

%

Kg

Poolish

 

 

Spelt flour

100

250

Water

100

250

Instant yeast

1

2.5

 

 

 

Oatmeal Soaker

 

 

Oatmeal

100

125

Warm Water

100

125

 

 

 

Final Dough

 

 

Spelt Flour

100

250

Mixed toasted sesame, sunflower,and pumpkin seeds

24

120

Poolish

202

502.5

Oatmeal Soaker

50

250

Salt

2

10

Water

64

70

Instant Yeast

1

2.5

Total Weight

 

1205

      
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           

Mix Poolish ingredients together and rest overnight in the fridge.

 

Combine poolish with remaining ingredients and mix on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes. Mix on 2nd for 2 minutes then knead on counter for 2-3 minutes, or just until the dough is smooth and uniform. Put the dough in a lightly floured bowl , cover, and let rest/bulk ferment for 1hr. Dough temp 71F-74F .

 

After the dough has rested for an hour , remove from the bowl and round it lightly and let rest for 15 minutes, then shape as desired. Preheat oven and stone to 500F .

 

**Note: this dough rises very quickly and should be monitored very closely during the final rise. It is easily overproofed. The times and temperatures listed below are based on my kitchen environment at the time and my oven. Adjust accordingly to your own situation at the time of final proof and baking.

Let dough rise approx. 30-40 minutes. then slide the loaf onto your hot stone, with normal steam and bake for 10 min. Turn the heat down to 440 for 25-30 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped . Cool on wire racks for 6 hours or more.

 

 

scloughley's picture

How best to mix pre-ferment throughout dough

June 3, 2010 - 12:29pm -- scloughley

Hi there


I have a great baguette recipe but I struggle with ensuring that the pre-ferment that I've prepared the night before gets evenly distributed through the dough.  It's a tricky problem, since you're trying to blend a soft gooey mixture through a new batch of flour, yeast, salt and water.

jennyloh's picture

Help with Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette

May 1, 2010 - 9:50pm -- jennyloh

I've been trying this for the last 2 days.  The only thing I can do with this,  is to make it into at best a ciabatta type - too soft, and difficult to hold together dough. 


1st try - using the home formula, I divide by 3 to get the measurement,  as i didn't want to make too much.  Well,  after the 1st rise,  the dough was sticky and there was no way I could hold it together.  It just slumps down every time I try pulling it together.  So,  I thought perhaps I got my water and bread mixture all wrong.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have been working on Sam Fromartz's mixed yeast and levain, long ferment method for baguettes. I know Hamelman prefers the poolish preferment method and I have to say I like the aroma that comes off the poolish better than almost anything. So, I decided early this morning to start the poolish and spent the day rereading the chapters on preferment of yeasted breads in Bread.


Along the way, I read over a sentence I had no doubt seen several times in the past, concerning steaming and baking on Page 100. Here in plain common words I discovered something I don't recall ever seeing before that I think is going to change my breads for the better. Hamelman is saying that for the home baker, after the steam period, the door can be propped open with a spoon for the remainder of the bake to help give a crisp crust in the drying phase of the bake. I have turned the oven off and left the bread in the oven at the end of baking to crisp the crust and make it slightly thicker and easier to cut after cool down. But never have I had the door propped open for 18 minutes. Right out of the oven the crust is hard and well colored. Now that it has cooled and been cut, I'm a little surprised that it's more open. The crumb is airy but not the dense crumb with many larger size holes. This is more like foam with a few larger holes. Honestly, I'm not sure why at this point. I'll have to think on it over night as it's already past my bed time. :>) I think I like the flavor better with these over the long refrigerated ferment. I still have another 700g of dough in the fridge I saved to bake Saturday so we'll see how that is after the overnight.
Eric



These were baked for 24 minutes at 470F. They are 350 grams pre bake.



The loaf on the left got 4 slashes and looks a little over proofed at 1-1/2 hours to me.



Not quite as open as I like but good for brochette.

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