For some time now I've been baking an Ale & Yeast Poolish bread, originally from Richard Bertinet's "Crust". I make it with my husband's home-brewed light hoppy ale, and it is a customer favourite (and family & friends too). It's a delightful all-purpose bread, good for sandwiches, toast, with soup or cheese or whatever. And it is probably the best-behaved dough I've ever worked with. It seems infallible!
The only thing I wanted to improve was the fact that it's almost all unbleached bread flour with only about 6% whole wheat flour (just enough to put some little flecks in it). So yesterday I set out to tweak it a bit. I hate messing with a good thing but I'll still bake the Ale & Yeast, I just wanted to add a 'Dark' to the menu!
First thing I did was rejig the poolish pre-ferment. Instead of half 'n' half bread flour and light ale, I used a combination of bread flour and the bits sifted out of whole wheat flour, mixed with an equal amount of dark mild ale and about a scant 1/8 tsp active dry yeast for each loaf.
The dough flour was 69% bread flour, 25% sifted whole wheat flour and 6% barley flour. Water, the poolish, and a tiny bit more yeast, and into the mixer. Autolyse for 30 minutes, add the salt and mix until smooth and stretchy. I let it proof at room temperature for a couple of hours, stretching and folding halfway through. The dough was beautiful and formed a nice smooth ball.
The next morning it had risen nicely, so I scaled and pre-shaped it while I prepared the 'wireframe' couche (lined with floured napkins).
It's bubbling nicely! This dough is a joy to shape, really. So much easier than a high-hydration dough (it's about 67% hydration).
Into the couch to rise for a couple of hours:
After 2 hours, onto the peels, slashed and ready to go in the oven. It will be baked on granite stones preheated to 475F with steam. Five minutes at 475F, then down to 425F for 20 minutes, rearrange the loaves and bake for another 10 minutes. This bread bakes fairly quickly and is actually better if not overbaked. The interior is still over 205F after this 25 minute bake.
And here are the lovely loaves, fresh out of the oven.
This has a more delicate crust than a sourdough but still crispy. The crumb is wonderful - creamy, chewy, soft and with shiny holes. And the taste - well, this loaf will be gone really quickly! It's just good, honest bread, the way bread is supposed to taste.
I'm off to a pot luck dinner shortly. Guess what I'm taking! :)