The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish vs sourdough starter

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pageta's picture
pageta

Poolish vs sourdough starter

I have some of Peter Reinharts books from the library. He'll have you make a poolish the night before using 1:1 ratio of flour and water and a bit of yeast. If I have starter on hand with the same hydration level, is there any reason why I can't feed it the night before and use and equal amount of it instead?

I see Reinhart says it doesn't matter if you use poolish or biga - just do the math and make sure your final amounts of flour and water are the same.

I'm just questioning the use of yeast vs what is in the my starter that makes it grow.

Thanks!

Grenage's picture
Grenage

If I have starter on hand with the same hydration level, is there any reason why I can't feed it the night before and use and equal amount of it instead?

No, and that's what I generally do.  With a few exceptions, I generally discard most of my starter and give it a big feed.  Once you know how rapid your starter is, it's not too had to guess how long you need to give it.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I keep one cup of starter in the refrigerator.  To this I add 5 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour, and leave covered overnight on the counter.  In the morning I put one cup back into the refrigerator and bake with the rest.  The remainder of my recipe involves 16 ounces of pre-soaked flour.  So although my starter hydration is less than yours, I am doing exactly what you have described.

wally's picture
wally

It will yield a slightly different flavor profile, but it's perfectly acceptable and a nice use of available levain.

Larry

suave's picture
suave

 is there any reason why I can't feed it the night before and use and equal amount of it instead

Well, you can, except that starter is typically used in much smaller proportion and even if it is used properly the resulting bread will be quite different from the original.

questioning the use of yeast vs what is in the my starter

There's no controversy here, it is just two different approaches to baking with different intended textures and taste profiles.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

I have never substituted wild yeast for a formula's commercial yeast before but I'm relatively new to bread baking and have many diversions from prescribed paths yet to explore. This is certainly one, along with mixing CY +WY in formulae. My intuition +experience tells me your idea is fine, but the dough will behave entirely differently. Primarily, everything will proceed more slowly with WY. Bulk and final ferments will have to be somewhat longer. And of course, flavor will differ markedly. Bacterial enzymes of WY will alter dough characteristics probably too, so let your eyes and hands, not PR's timings, be your guide. 

Please let us know how it goes. A comparison of both ways would be fascinating. 

Tom

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

around home and substitute SD starter for commercial yeast all the time when commercial yeast is in the recipe.  We use a rough rule of thumb of 30% the total weight of the recipe in flour and water for the levain build.  If the flour and water total 1000g for a commercial yeast bread recipe we would build a SD levain over 12 hours that totaled 300 g.  Taste and texture will be different than what you would get with commercial yeast.  Less levain just means longer times for fermenting development and proof.

If a SD tang is not wanted, we build a yeast water levain to the same amount.  Since YW doesn't have a SD taste, making bread with it to replace commercial yeast makes the bread come out to taste nearly the same as if it was made with commercial yeast.  The crumb will be more moist, soft and open though.