The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish is frugal

Felila's picture

Poolish is frugal

I've recently made the Struan (struan? no cap?) bread from one of Peter Reinhart's books and it was wonderful! Tender and tasty. It probably helped that I used a mixture of heavy whipping cream (leftover) and water for the liquid.

There's just one drawback to the recipe: it calls 2 tablespoons of yeast. Yeast is expensive, even when I buy it in bulk from my food co-op. My usual bread is a ciabatta made with a poolish. I'm using 1/2 teaspoon of yeast total (1/4 for the polish, 1/4 when I mix the final dough). I can eke out a bag of yeast for months.

There's something to be said for poolish. Of course, sourdough would be even cheaper. I wouldn't have to buy any yeast at all. I've found, alas, that my baking gets erratic when I have a big freelance assignment. I resort to my frozen loaves and forget to feed my poor starter. Poor, doomed starter :(


HeidiH's picture

You're right and slow rising with less yeast results in more flavor.  But at $10/pound, I find I don't stint when I want something to hurry along.   That's what I paid for my current yeast.  I see now that there's a source on Amazon selling 4 lbs for $14.07!

jcking's picture

BJ's Club 2lbs. Fleishmans instant yeast under 5$.


Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

SAF Active Dry Yeast at CostCo was $3.99 for two pounds at the KC, MO CostCo last week.

Felila's picture

I'm not a Costco member (annual fee is too much given how little I buy) and buying foodstuffs online is usually too expensive once shipping to Hawai'i is added. If I buy yeast at Amazon, the shipping costs more than the yeast. 

EVERYTHING in Hawai'i is outrageously expensive. My food co-op buys in bulk and puts the yeast in smaller bags. They're not out to make a profit, just to break even, so I figure that I'm getting the best price I can for retail. I might check to see if Walmart :( carries yeast in bulk.

I should also add that I keep my food spending to the $174 a month that I get in food stamps. My idea of "expensive" probably isn't the same as yours. I bake my own bread in part because it's better and in part because it's cheaper.

HeidiH's picture

My Hawaii cousins came to visit us in the late 1950s when I was all of about 7 years old.  I still remember being shocked at what they said butter cost per pound in Hawaii!  Huzzah to you for being able to get by on such a strict food budget there!

RonRay's picture

Sourdough, Yeast Water, and any of the wild yeasts will only make you bread tastes better, and from what you just said, certainly will cost less.


wassisname's picture

I know I've seen discussions here about freezing or drying portions of starter to be revived later.  Might be an option depending on just how erratic your baking schedule is.  I recently dried a piece of mine with the idea of giving it to someone as a jump-start, but haven't tried reviving it yet.


Janetcook's picture

I bake using recipes from PR's Whole Grain Breads all of the time.

I have found I can cut way down on his recommended yeast amounts - last loaf of his I baked I backed off by 50% and it still rose within the time frame he outlined.

I will mention that:

  • I use Saf-Instant yeast
  • I bake with whole grains only that I grind myself
  • I live at 5280 feet

Any of which will have an impact on how yeast behaves but just thought I would offer what I have discovered by using his recipes in case it may help you in any way.

I know he adds a lot of sweetener to his formulas too and that can be cut down to suit your tastes - hence cost of loaf diminishes too.



Luvs2bake's picture

OMG!  I buy 2# bags of Active Dry or SAF Red at Smart & Final -- under $5.  Struan is one of my most favorite breads.  Never thought to do it with poolish but will give that a try next time.  If there's a Smart & Final near you, check it out.  There's no membership required and their prices (at least for baking ingredients) are very good.

Felila's picture

Limited selection of stores out here in the middle of the Pacific.

I'm thinking that I'll try making the struan with a poolish. That will take two days rather than just one, but it would certainly cut down on the yeast costs.  I could also try reviving my sourdough. I froze some -- smeared it on slips of parchment paper, then scraped off the dried starter when it was dry and hard.




HeidiH's picture

And here I thought switching from the little envelopes from the grocery store to $10/lb. was good.  The little envelopes worked out to $42/lb.  Now I know to look for better deals!  Thank you all for edjukatin' me.