The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

JMonkey's Poolish Baguette

Skibum's picture

JMonkey's Poolish Baguette

I have been baking steadily now for 2 months and thanks to this great site my results have improved a great deal.  Today was my best bake ever! The biggest difference was finally having a baking stone in the oven.  Today’s oven spring surpassed even results I have had baking in cast iron.  Really nice tasting loaf, with great crust, nice soft crumb and great flavour.  This is my first content post, so I hope the photos come out:

 I have been working on the recipe posted my JMonkey under recipes in the handbook:

I have had to make a few changes.  First of all, my home is 4,420 feet above sea level and it is very dry with the humidity rarely venturing above 50% in winter and I am likely using different flour.  Perhaps JM’s water is wetter!  I certainly need to use less yeast. 

My first crack at this recipe measured by weight, resulted in a very dry dough and I ended up adding an additional 3 Tbs of water just to get it to go together, but the dough was still too dry and the loaves average.

My second try at this recipe I started by using an additional 6 Tbs of water and added a bit more salt using 11/2 tsp.  I also switched from Robin Hood AP unbleached AP flour to Robin Hood Best for Bread, White bread flour.  (yup, I’m in Canada).  To get better spring, this batch was baked in a cast iron dutch oven at 450 covered for 20 minutes, then finished uncovered for 20 minutes more.  The loaves were very good and the trend in the right direction.

My third recipe was outstanding and once again, I upped the salt another ¼ tsp for taste.  Though I started this recipe project using weights, this is the volume measure for the bread I have been making:


1 1/3 Cup Bread flour

1 1/3 cup water – OOPS recipe deviation . . .

1/8 tsp yeast

At around 5:00 pm Friday I started the yeast in warm water and then mix and see you in the morning!

Final Mix

21/2 Cups Bread Flour

1/2 Cup warm water

13/4 tsp salt

½ tsp yeast

Mix warm water with yeast then add to polish, stirring to break it up a bit.  Add polish to flour & salt mix and mix/knead for 10 minutes.  Placed dough in an olive oiled bowl for a bulk ferment with 3 stretch and folds every 30 minutes, followed by a 1 hour bulk rise.

Okay, I deviated from the recipe once again by doing the stretch and folds at 30 minutes rather than 1 stretch and fold after 1 hour, but hey, I am a skibum and I get things confused.  I confused the bulk ferment prep between the polish baguette and ciabatta recipes, but I guess with my additional water my mix is

I then divided the dough in 2 and pre-shaped 2 dough balls.  One dough got covered and will get baked today.  The other went pack into the bowl and into the fridge for later use.

After 25 minutes rest, I shaped a boule as Mr. Hammelman shows on his excellent video:

I placed the shaped loaf onto bakers parchment dusted with flour and cornmeal  and covered with a floured towel and plastic bag to proof.  After 1 hour I turned the oven on to 450F and placed an empty broiler pan try on the bottom rack, the stone on the 2nd rack.  After 11 minutes the oven was up to heat and I gave it another 19 minutes to let the stone heat up, for a total proofing time of 30 minutes.

I then dusted the loaf with flour, scored it and placed the loaf and parchment onto the baking stone and adding ¾ cup boiling water to the broiler pan.  The total baking time was 30minutes.

YAHOO, great loaf, great bake!


Skibum's picture

So what, did I post this in the wrong place?

Anyhow the second half of the dough kept nicely in the fridge for 3 days, after which I let it come to room temp and finish rising.  I then de gassed and pre-formed a ball.  Aftger 20 munites rest, I formed a boule and then baked.  The extra time in the fridge provided a better crumb, with more open holes and better flavour!



pmccool's picture

From what you describe (higher elevation, different flour), you've been making some good adjustments from JMonkey's original formula that fit your circumstances.  Glad to hear that you are enjoying your bread.


Skibum's picture

Thanks for the response Paul.  I guess I should have mentioned in my original post what a great starter recipe this is to learn about the fine art of great bread.  When I gound this recipe in the manual, I was in the middle of doing a bad job of bakers math in reducing that exact KAF formula.  So many thanks fo JMonkey for doing the math!!!

I also read with a chuckle shortly after my post that it is quite normal to adjust the flour and water.  Duh, I am a newb.

This is proving to be an interesting, satisfying and mighty tasty hobby.  I likely didn't need to stretch & fold every 30 minutes for a baguette mix, but it certainly didn't do the dough any harm.  I can see how a wetter dough like a ciabatta might need the extra work to firm it up.

I now have the Bread Baker's Apprentice on my kitchen table.  Wow, betweeen this book, the TFL website and the excellent KAF professional video, the learning opportunities and learning curve are amazing.  Many thanks for sharing fellow bakers.

For last weekend's bake, I adjusted the recipe by adding 33% white rye flour by weight and the results were great!  I will post the results of this bake and formula separately.