The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mini boules w/poolish

sam's picture

Mini boules w/poolish


I've never yet made a poolish bread, and wanted to try it, so here was my first one.  20% of the flour was the poolish w/baker's yeast (0.2%) at 100% hydration (fermented appx 10 hours).  57% of the flour was a cold flour soaker at 80% hydration in parallel while the poolish was fermenting.   Final dough hydration was 66%.   All flour was KA AP flour.   (I did not cold retard the dough, or make a mash for this bread).

I wasn't expecting much, so I took the opportunity to practice slashing - mainly speed of slashing.   I sort of went to town on a couple of these, just randomly slashing it all over.   :)  

The bread actually tastes much better than I thought it would.    Had a bit of a time buttering it... the melting butter just formed pools inside of the holes.   

Needs some finesse, but here are pics:



Happy baking!



lumos's picture

Really pretty loaves, gvz...and welcome to the wonderful world of poolish! :D  

I really love poolish, especially when I want light and open textured bread, like baguettes.  It' so easy to make, easy to mix in with  main dough ingredients,  really improves the flavour and make the crumb open.

The whole point of poolish is to get improved flavour without long fermentation,  so what you did was actually what professinal bakers do.  I do cold retard with mine, but that's quite unorthodox, I suppose....

50% poolish next time, maybe? ;)

best wishes,



Mebake's picture

They look lovely, gvz! and as Lumos said, welcome to the world of poolish.

nicodvb's picture

Gvz, the texture of the crumb is quite unusual :-) but the loaves look very nice. Can you describe the taste induced by the poolish? I baked several white loaves using 20-25% of the flour in the poolish, but to say the truth I never experienced any taste whatsoever.

sam's picture

@lumos -- thanks!    Yes, I considered a higher amount of poolish, but decided to start smaller.   Also I forgot to add any additional baker's yeast in the final dough mix, so it was leavened just with the poolish.   About a 4 hr bulk fermentation and about 1.5 hrs of final ferment.    Next time I will increase the poolish amount.   Also toying with the idea of adding a very small amount of levain for just a touch of sour, just a little bit.

@Mebake -- thanks!    I had intended to try to make baguettes out of this dough, but for various reasons ended up with little boules instead.   :)    I want to try to make a decent baguette so this was the first step.

@nicodvb -- I too thought it would be bland-ish, but it wasn't.   It has a solid depth of flavor.  Possibly also because of the flour soaker.

jcking's picture

Nice post, very interesting to see your results. Seems like people are ga ga over sourdough. There's a lot of flavor potential from a poolish.

Hope to see more ~ Jim

sam's picture

Thanks Jim.   Yes, I agree, there is a lot of potential.

My fermentation book (Handbook of Dough Fermentations) indicates there are many different flavor chemical compounds produced by all yeasts as a result of them living, dividing, etc.   So it makes sense that a well-fermented poolish bread can have great flavor.

I'm not throwing out my sourdough culture or anything, but it nice to taste the positive results of an alternative way.   I will also try applying the poolish method to a high-percentage whole-grain bread and let it ferment for a very long time (24hrs at a cooler temp).  So far whenever I try to do long ferments of whole-grains with my sourdough, the resulting bread is simply too sour, way too sour.   So this might be another path forward.

aakoh's picture

Hi, I have some questions :

1. Is the difference between a flour soaker and a poolish - the yeast that is added only to the poolish?

2. Is a cold flour soaker just AP flour soaked in water? Can I use other flours like bread flour?

3. I googled and read that typically grains, seeds and nuts are used in soakers to soften them and to develop flavour. Which would impart more flavour - the poolish or the soaker?



sam's picture

Hi aakoh,

While I am no biochemist, this is my understanding.   Also the proof is in the 'pudding' so to speak, you should try it!

1.   Correct, yeast is only added to the poolish.  (or, sourdough starter to a levain).   Flour soaker is just flour, water, and optionally, a bit of salt.   The flour soaker is all about activating the amylase enzymes present in the flour, which breaks down starches into sugars for flavor and for better yeast fermentation later on.

2.  Yes, for the above bread (and other similar ones), it is just plain ole AP flour soaking in water (80% hydration), at room temp in a separate container, while the poolish is fermenting.   Bread flour works too.   Also, when I said, "cold soaker" above, I meant room-temp soaker.   (I might have incorrectly used the term "cold soaker" -- I just meant to differentiate from a "hot soaker" where people pour boiling water over flour and/or whole grains, which is a different thing).    Warning though:   Don't try a "warm soaker" for a long period of time (80F or higher), unless you put some salt in it, or you might end up with the beginnings of a sourdough culture.  :-)  I usually put 1% salt by weight of soaker-flour to the soaker, and it's fine at normal room temps.  I account for that amount of salt in the final dough mix, so I don't over-salt the final dough.

3.  Yes, you are right that "cracked / chopped" grains, and nuts + seeds are soaked to soften them.  Flour also benefits from soaking due to the enzyme actions.   For the question about "what imparts more flavor", that is a good question, I'm not sure of the answer.  Maybe you could try a head-to-head taste test, maybe like:

a)   Bread made with poolish-only.

b)   "Straight-dough" bread made with a soaker but no poolish.  (Straight-dough meaning the soaker, flour, water, salt and yeast but no preferment).

For me, I wouldn't bother making a bread anymore without a flour soaker component.   Regardless if the bread is an all-white or whole-grain-flour or any combination, flour soakers improve flavor.

Hope this helps.   I am sure I will be corrected by others if I am wrong about things, but your taste buds are your guide.   :)




aakoh's picture

Thanks for the clear and detailed answers, gvz! I will certainly try a flour soaker and see what flavors it brings. Your boules with the poolish looks great! Your random slashing actually makes it look quite artistic!