The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish fed vs. Straight Mix Then long ferment

BeekeeperJ's picture

Poolish fed vs. Straight Mix Then long ferment

Ok I understand what the poolish is used for or Biga, pre ferment in general. Ive recently baked a very simpl flour water salt yeast dough. 70% hydration, 1 lb ap flour, 2 tsp salt,  11.2 oz water and 1tsp yeast.  Mixed on my KAid until a nice satin smooth finish.  This went right to the refridge overnight and into today actually, total time about 20 hours in the cool.  Took it out stretch and fold another rise about 90 mins. Shaped into a batard type shape another 30 min rest and baked 475 with 4 oz water for steam 22 mins. Great color in just 8 mins into it and it looks and smells great. It behaved exactly as if I used a poolish maybe even better. What are your thoughts on a straight mix with slow ferment without poolish or pre ferment?

Sjadad's picture

The straight mix with a long, cool/cold fermentation you describe essentially is what Peter Reinhart and others refer to as pain a l'ancienne. The long, cold fermentation allows the enzymes in the dough to convert the starches to sugars without the yeast being active enough to gobble it all up, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. The result is beautiful caramelization on the crust and a residual sweetness that makes the bread absolutely delicious.

wally's picture

Poolish and other preferments serve as a way of shortening the traditionally long fermentation cycle by back-loading dough with a portion of already fermented dough (the preferment) that brings with it flavor and gluten development.  In addition to those benefits, before commercial bakers yeast was widely available, bakers used poolish as a source of yeast for leavening their doughs.

A long, cool fermentation, such as you've done with your dough, accomplishes essentially all that a poolish would insofar as developing flavor and gluten.  If you like retarding your dough in this manner, there's really no reason to utilize a poolish, biga, pate fermentee, etc.


ssor's picture

constitutes 25 % of the total flour. There is a profound difference in the flavor if I mix without using the poolish. My kitchen is cool so my rise is always slow often six to eight hours in any case. Summertime is quicker. My bread is always better with the longer ferments on the WW flour.