The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Frozen poolish?

darellmatt's picture

Frozen poolish?


I am reading the excellent "Crust and Crumb" by Peter Reinhart" In the section on poolish, page 34, he says: "you can freeze unused poolish and save it for another time, if you do so just before or after refreigerating it on the first night"

I am surpised, I thought freezing killed yeast cells? Any thoughts on how this works, or how long you could get away with leaving it frozen and then using it?



PaddyL's picture

Cold, even freezing, does not.

darellmatt's picture

I doubt that it's so black and white.

hansjoakim's picture

Apparently, freezing will also kill or somehow inhibit yeast activity. A few days ago, I read about freezing pre-baked viennoiserie. If the shaped products are frozen before being baked, one should double the original amount of yeast in the dough. I'm not sure if the yeast is actually killed off or simply immobilized by freezing, but one should apparently be careful when freezing pre-baked goods.

Dan Lepard has recently experimented with freezing "sourdough nuggets", so more information/experience of freezing sourdough might be forthcoming soon.

I've no idea why anyone would bother freezing a poolish, however...

plvannest's picture

My favorite recipe that I bake pretty much every week makes two loaves.  Since there are only two of us, I only bake one loaf and save the other for later.  What I do is to work with both loaves up until putting them in the pan for the final rise before baking.  At that point, the "later loaf" goes into the freezer.

After we finish the first loaf--about midweek, I take the second out of the freezer, put it in the loaf pan, cover it and let it thaw then rise.  This usually takes the better part of a day.  Once it's thawed and risen, I bake it as I normally would. 

I've not noticed any great differences between the two loaves.  The "later loaf" is a bit denser as it doesn't rise quite the same as the first loaf, but that seems to be about all.  The taste and texture from this way is better than I've had with baking then freezing the "later loaf".  (Just don't care for frozen bread.)

One thing that may help with this is that the recipe is a variation of the honey oat bread I found here.  It has 1/2 cup of honey so it's a bit of a sweet bread.  Perhaps the amount of sweet helps the yeast recover from the freeze?

darellmatt's picture

That is very helpful. Have you ever tried letting the second loaf rise fully and then freezing it?  It might even be possible to put the frozen, fully risen loaf directly into a cold oven and let it thaw as the oven preheats? Just a thought...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but once thawed out, I would work some more yeast into the dough to help warm it up and give it a boost to keep to a schedule.  I think some of the yeast dies when frozen, some doesn't.  I don't know the %.  (The mad scientist in me thinks it might have something to do with the budding stages of yeast production and the temperature of dough before freezing.)

If I didn't have any extra instant or cake yeast to add, I would give the dough longer warmer proofing times, as the yeast will need more time to multiply.  This extra time may even improve the flavor of the finished loaf but it might be hard to estimate when it's oven ready. 

If there is no hurry, then there's no worry!  It's ready when it's ready.



AllanRI's picture

My understanding is that the poolish is largely about enhancing flavour and texture; the yeast added to the poolish is what gets it to the point of being able to contribute those two properties. In The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Reinhart's recipes that use a poolish always add extra yeast during the mixing of the poolish with the additional flour.  So even if some/most of the yeast is killed off in the freezer - and I do believe a good portion of the yeast just goes in to stasis, it isn't killed off - the yeast added during the mixing stage will help the bread to ferment/rise.

And isn't instant yeast produced through a freeze-drying process anyway?  Freezing can't be that hard on it ...