The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish baking - failure

satimis's picture

Poolish baking - failure

Hi all,

This is my first sourdough bread with baking result in complete mess.

Breadmaker - Kenwood BM450
loaf 500g

white flour for bread 2.4 oz
water 1/2 cup (cold)
1/8 tsp inst yeast

Final Dough
white flour for bread 8 oz
water 6 oz (cold)
1/2 teaspoon inst yeast
1 tsp salt
sour cream 2 oz for making tender crust
all of the poolish

Salted cashew nuts    1 oz (chopped)
Walnut        1 oz (chopped)

Combined all ingredients for the poolish in a glass bowl. Covered the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving it at room temperature overnight.

Next morning the poolish looked like this;

Poured all ingredients of the final dough in the baking pan.

Preheat time    3 min
Mixing time    20 min
Rising time    90 min
Baking time    50 min
Baking temperature    300deg F
(there is no temperature setting on the breadmaker.  To reach higher temperature requires increasing the baking time)

Baking result likes this;

- Bread top completely flat
- bread texture is poor with too soft bread.

Would it be;
insufficient yeast ?
insufficient baking time ?



dhass's picture

Cold water kills yeast. Mix your dry ingredients thoroughly before adding cold water. This will "protect" the yeast from direct contact with the cold water. I discovered this by mistake and confirmed it with several yeast manufacturers.  I always use cold water in my breads so I know it works.

afrika's picture


dhass's picture

Try mixing instant yeast with cold tap water, 55-60F and make a poolish. You'll see.

G-man's picture

It takes more than cold water to kill yeast. Cold makes yeast sluggish, but they're still 'alive'. Warm them up and you'll have activity, or wait long enough and (provided the temperature isn't near freezing) you'll get activity.

LindyD's picture

The thermal death point of yeast is 140F.  All cold water does is slow down yeast activity.  Case in point: Peter Reinhart's pain à l'ancienne requires ice cold water (40F) for the mix and immediate retardation overnight.  That slow fermentation develops a wonderful, sweet flavor.  

At the other end of the spectrum, temperatures between 116F-131F severely reduce yeast activity.  

Here's a couple of helpful links where you can learn more:

mwilson's picture

There is some truth here but it applies more to Active Dry.

Instant Dry Yeast

Dry yeast should not be placed in direct content with water that is
below approximately 70°F. At these lower temperatures the yeast
cells may release some of their contents (glutathione) producing a
slack dough with less fermentation activity. If cold water is needed
for the dough, it is a good practice to add the yeast to the bowl after
the water and flour have been blended


Active Dry Yeast

It is important to observe the temperature range to achieve maximum
results from the yeast. Some brands of active dry yeast may be rehydrated in water as low as 90°F, but water much lower than that will
reduce yeast activity in the dough. If the water is slightly below 70°F
there will be 30-40% less activity from the yeast and the yeast cells may
leach out some of their contents, including glutathione which may produce a slack dough because of its natural reducing property. If the water is lower than 40°F, many of the yeast cells will die. The same care must
be taken to avoid temperatures above those that are recommended by
the manufacturer. At these higher temperatures the yeast will be
damaged and less effective.


Having said this I have used water as cold as 6C / 43F in direct contact with very small quantities of Instant yeast  and not had any noticable problems.


Yerffej's picture

A poolish is made with equal parts (by weight) of flour and water with a minute amount of yeast,  far less than 1/8 teaspoon.  So right from the start I see that your recipe falls short.  What you need is a good recipe and this is not it.


satimis's picture

Hi all,

Thanks for your advice.

The recipe used is a modified one based on;

My Pain Sur Poolish (Daily Bread)

I cut the ingredient quantity to half to make ONE loaf.  It uses equal part of flour and water.

For easy measurement of flour I converted its volume to weight according to;
Bread flour    1 cup = 136 g = 4.8 oz
        1/2 cup = 2.4 oz

I suppose I have to adjust the rising and baking time?  Shall I use lukewarm water (38~40 deg C)?