The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Questions in the wonderful world of Poolish

doublelift08's picture
doublelift08

Questions in the wonderful world of Poolish

Firstly- the background info:

So in my quest to bake the ultimate baguette (and aren't we all on that quest) i resigned early on to learn using "Poolish containing recipes" if for no other reason than that is the standard method for Coup du Monde and other competition baguettes. Ergo.... if the best baguettes in the world can be made by that method then thats the method I'm gonna use.

 

Ok so here's the question-

What is the highest ratio of poolish weight to remaining flour weight in a recipe to yeild a positive result. I.e. at what level does the beneficial nature of the poolish crest on the "makin it better" graph and begin to make your bread worse... and why?  I.e. why not just take the total amount of water in the recipe, poolish included, add an equal weight of flour to make the poolish, and then just add the remaining flour,  remaining yeast, and the salt when you're ready to knead the actual dough.

For instance i happen to know the recipe for the best baguettes i've ever tasted and the recipe calls for poolish in a ratio of 68% the weight of the weight of the flour in the final dough... 68% is not a number one pulls out of thin air.What is the logic, i wonder.

 

Your help is appreciated.

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

I bake hundreds of loaves of poolish Ciabatta each year (5 or 600 really) and just last week as I was doing some scaling up of the recipe arithmetic, I realized I was using 169% poolish to dry flour weight in the final mix.  This has always given me a very hyrated "slack" dough even though the water weight is only 33%.  I think I can get away with such a low h2o % because of the poolish being very hydrated.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

"why not just take the total amount of water in the recipe, poolish included, add an equal weight of flour to make the poolish, and then just add the remaining flour,  remaining yeast, and the salt when you're ready to knead the actual dough."

A lot of recipes do just that; the hydration of the poolish is calculated as a part of the total hydration of the fina dough.  When a book says "x grams of poolish (see page xxx for poolish)" it's intended that the baker use that formula because the hydration of that formula has already been factored in to the total hydration of the recipe.

doublelift08's picture
doublelift08

wow. in all my reading i've never seen a printed recipe to which you just added the remaings flour yeast and salt to an already established poolish containing all your water for the formula. I've done just that in rearranging my own recipes, but i've also never made a spectacular baguette to date.. and so i thought that mite be one of the places i was stepping on my own toes.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Although I do, personally, make bread using only the hydration in the poolish as the total hydration for the entire recipe, please not that I said "the hydration of the poolish is calculated as a part of the total hydration" (not necessarily the entire percentage of hydration) in some recipes in some of the published books.  It is not uncommon for those recipes to combine a bit more water along with the additional flour in the final mix.

For example, Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice"  includes a recipe for a Poolish version of his Ciabatta.  The poolish hydration is 107%.  He adds flour to the poolish along with some additional liquid (water or milk) for a final hydration of between 60 and 80%, depending on your decision for the final amount of water necessary to create a dough of the proper consistency.  If you elect to use the minimum amount of added water (6 tablespoons ) the math renders a 60% hydration whereas the maximum amount of added water (6 ounces) renders a 80% hydration for which a total of approximately 50% of the hydration from the recipe is provided by the water in the poolish.