The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish or preferment vs wild yeast starter

Katnath's picture

Poolish or preferment vs wild yeast starter

Hello all, just joined this incredibly informative fascinating board. I'm an experienced baker with mostly commercial yeast, though for several years I used nancy silvertons sourdough starter recipe. 

i now prefer to use a simple poolish or preferment (1/4 tsp active dry yeast) 1 cup mixed grain flour, water and usually about 8 hrs at room temp. Then proceed with final dough. 

I find find that we don't eat enough bread to justify maintaining a starter, and actually I don't like the taste of sourdough bread. 

My question is how do I convert the many recipes I see for sourdough breads using my method. Do I just simply substitute my poolish in place of the small amount of wild starter in most recipes? It won't be the same weight and of course slightly different flavour profile. 

Thanks for any input. 

proth5's picture

where a little baker's math goes a long way.

See for a lesson on baker's math.  You can access these articles from the public area.

Calculate the "amount of flour pre fermented" from your sourdough formulas.

Use that same percentage for your poolish - or other pre ferment based on your pre ferment hydration.

You've got to study a bit of baker's math (or as I like to call it "arithmetic" as it is very easy) but you will then have the knowledge to create formulas as you want.

There are other ways to do this, but once you see the ease of this method, you will not go back.

My motto is: Use what works.  Real baker's math (accept no substitutes) works.

You may wish to add extra commercial yeast to your formulas (although just using the leavening from a pre ferment will work - albeit slowly) and baker's math will help you there.

Hope this helps.