The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bobku's picture


If I make a 100% hyd poolish using 1/2 of the flour from a recipe adding .02% yeast bakers percentage and ferment overnight, is it necessary to add any additional yeast from the recipe. I'm thinking I can just use the poolish which has yeast already and just complete recipe with no additional yeast. My bulk rise and proof might be longer but I think the flavor and final crumb wold benefit. Is this correct ?

suave's picture

You could do that.  But the flavor and the crumb will not be that much better.

dabrownman's picture

which is every time, I use commercial yeast, I don't add any extra commercial yeast in the dough so I don't know if the flavor is better or worse for adding it.  There isn't much flavor added with just the poolish either.  For me, it is more of a way to make the most of expensive yeast, not for extra flavor.  Sometime the commercial yeast is nearly, or is, the most expensive thing in straight dough. My taste buds are too old to tell the difference I guess.

Compared to SD, straight dough to me is almost tasteless - with or without a poolish.  Which is why I bake SD around here except for my wife and daughter - when YW takes over for them since they don't like sour all that much.

sandydog's picture

Re the OP's original questions:

100% hyd poolish using 1/2 of the flour from a recipe, adding yeast and ferment overnight was, I believe,  originaly designed to make production quicker on Day 2. Additionally it would be normal to add yeast at the level of between 0.1-1.0% depending on the proposed length of the overnight fermentation - 0.02% yeast seems very low to me even for instant yeast. We are talking French style Rustic bread/Pain rustique here and, of course, the perceived flavour profile is all in the taste buds of the final consumers who will speak for themselves.

It is possible to do as you suggest ie. complete the recipe without further yeast addition but I think suave has got it right in that you will not notice much, if any, improvement.

My question for you is, if you want to take a long time making your loaves? "Why not make a loaf to a recipe that suits a longer process and has extra flavour built in" That would be sourdough - like dabrownman's favourites. An added bonus is that you do not have to buy more yeast if you use sourdough. 

Happy baking



dabrownman's picture

What makes this a French style Pain Rustique?  Couldn't it just as easy be Italian or even a baguette ?

sandydog's picture

I know only a very little about Italian breads but of course their Biga, which is most often in the 50-60% hydration range can also be 100% in the same fashion as the French/Polish poolish - I can safely leave an explanation on Italian breads to those more knowledgeable than myself on the subject - I feel sure they are close around here somewhere - restricting myself to commenting on/answering the OP's questions to the best of my knowledge.

My understanding regarding French style breads is that 100% hydration poolish utilising 50% of the total flour is typical of Pain rustique (French Rustic bread often uses a 60% hydration - Biga style - starter) whereas the Ciabatta Italian style loaves I make commonly utilise somewhere in the order of 20-30% preferment. 

My guess is that a lot of this stuff fits into the category of "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" 

But it is good fun discussing it.


Happy baking,


ananda's picture

Not wishing to take this too far off topic,

So, I agree with the comments made by Brian and Suave about minimising yeast not being that beneficial in the overall formula.

Re Pain Rustique, I believe Brian's observation that these types of bread incorporate a higher proportion of pre-fermented dough is endorsed by a number of respected American authors such as Hamelman.   I think that dragging Italian breads into the discussion is unhelpful to the OP.   Whilst "Biga" may be a general Italian term for a type of pre-ferment, it is most commonly associated with a stiff pre-ferment, in contrast to the poolish which is commonly recognised as a more liquid pre-ferment.   One is an Italian word, the other French.   That is a general reflection of dough-making preference, but in no way should be interpreted rigidly.   It is of greater importance to understand the complexities of how these fermentation systems work; somewhat outside the remit of the original post.

Of more important note is that a "Straight Dough" by its very nature, does not contain any pre-ferments.   Straight dough implies the use of all functional ingredients in one single mix [excepting use of an autolyse of just the dough flour and water].   Thus it utilises bulk fermentation process, activated dough development or mechanical dough development to ripen the dough.   Poolish is not part of the equation.

The use of a pre-ferment [Biga, Poolish or Sponge] was indeed originally designed to speed up the final process in days when bakers' yeast was a scarce and expensive substance.   This adds further support here to what is posted in the first and third responses in the thread.

Best wishes


dabrownman's picture

is that it is also a commercial yeast preferment, like a poolish, can be 100% hydration, but usually not, that too can be used in bread without a spike of commercial yeast later - no problem and is done all the time.  I don't see how bringing biga is harmful in the least.

The use of poolish or biga was not used initially to speed up the final process when expensive and rare commercial yeast came on the baking scene.  It was used to cut down the cost of this rare and exotically expensive new yeast.   Adding yeast later in the process came about later, after commercial yeast became much less rare and resulting much less expensive.   Professional bakers wanted to speed up the bread making process to fit their schedule better and make more money so it was then that a 2nd dose of yeast was added to speed up the process - but only after it became economically feasible to do so.

The use of a large poolsh for Pain Rustic isn't specific to it which is why I asked about what made it a Pain Rustic thing.  It sounded like my poolish baguette recipe to me.  Most poolish Pain Rustic recipes I have on file don't use anywhere near 50% of the dough flour in the poolish - most are in the 30% range or so.  But, for me Pain Rustic is more about what the bread looks like, is more of a  country bread made before commercial yeast was available where possibly SD would or could be used as the preferment.  But people can call their breads anything and, to be honest,  i couldn't care less.  I don't see where bringing up Pain Rustic is any more or less helpful than bringing up biga.  It is just one of many,many bread recipes that utilize the same method of a large poolish or biga - and supposedly for the same reasons.

There are all kinds of great reasons not to add yeast later in the process besides cost too.  Timing of the bake schedule is just one as is the possible better keeping qualities even though my poolsih baguettes are stale in a day anyway.   As is a possible, and I mean possible, in the widest sense,  better flavor and enzymatic activity which I too find hardly worth the effort since I can't tell the difference.  If flavor was the issue than a smaller poolish over a longer time would seem a better solution or using an autolyse for e[-the enzymes but i don't find this to add much extra flavor either - over even a straight dough.  This is  why I brought up straight dough - not that poolish is part of a straight dough process and method any more than a an autolyse is since there are no preferments allowed in a straight dough - nor is an autolyse.

In 2006 I think SFBI did an special piece on whether a poolish or biga was worth it or not.  Makes for interesting reading if you care to take the time.

My point is that bread made with commercial yeast using a big or small poolish, or none at all, hardly tastes any different in the end - at least not to me and I'm guessing, that in a blind taste test, it wouldn't to most other folks either where store bought bread is still king and explains why straight dough baguettes are so popular in France even though Hamelman said this about straight dough....

"Many straight-dough breads are bland, insipid, and boring: bread that serves little purpose other
than holding some meat or sopping up soup.
"  I think I agree with him and will go on to say if Wonder bread is America's crap bread .....then baguettres, even poolih ones,  could be serving the same purpose for the French :-)

I say if Hamelman can say straight dough breads can be insipid than I can say one with a poolish is - nearly so :-)

People try to change the meanings of words all the time.  Artisan bread is one.  The word means  and bread made by an artisan whose product is considered to be the best of the craft by their peers and cannot be a bread made with any machines and must be baked in a masonry oven that is naturally fired.  Seems simple enough till you look to see who is claiming to be making artisan bread today.....But there still are many, many  bakers who do make artisan bread today.  They must be mystified by those who claim - 'me too!'

Same thing with autolyse.  A term was created by French baking professor Calvel who stated it was flour and water only.  Now folks claim it can contain salt, yeast or SD  levain - even though all 3 were specifically excluded by the man who coined the term.  Doesn't seem to make any difference.

It seem 'straight dough' is also having its own 'changing of the meaning' problems today.  But that doesn't mean anyone is trying to be unhelpful.

There was a great thread on straight dough about 5 years ago on TFL here

And I think subfuscpersona had it right when they said

There are only 4 steps to a straight dough:

 1> combine all ingredients at once to make the dough and knead

 2> one bulk ferment until doubled (at room temperature)

 3> shape, let rise in the pan (at room temperature)

 4> bake

 You'll notice there are no multiple risings during the bulk fermentation stage, no preliminary autolyse, no intermittent stretch-and-folds.

 A straight dough is leavened with commercial yeast. It does not incorporate any prefermented dough - it doesn't use sourdough nor does it include any kind of preferment (biga / pate fermentee / poolish); a straight dough is intended to be a simple method, so it does not include the task of making a preferment or building a sourdough levain.

 In keeping with the simplicty of a straight dough, the method typically has the dough rise at room temperature - no overnight refrigeration or retardation techniques are used either for bulk fermentation or the final rise before baking.

 Straight dough recipes I've seen can be enriched - milk or buttermilk (rather than water) can be the primary liquid and ingredients can include oil or butter, sweetener - even eggs. So, again, it not the ingredients but the method that defines a straight dough.

I'm with sandydog, the conversation is interesting, even fun,  not unhelpful.



ananda's picture

Hello dabrownman,

I am a little reticent posting an answer to your comments in this thread, as its relevance to the original post is, to me, questionable.   I will try to keep it brief and succinct in that context.

Firstly, you did not introduce the concept of "biga" in your post answering Brian, you used the word "Italian".   That was the word I took as being "unhelpful".   I apologise for not being clear enough about the specific comment which I was answering.

I do not disagree with what you say about the use of a pre-ferment being the most canny way to use commercial yeast back in the day when it was expensive and not so easy for the baker to obtain in large quantities.   My point is that the realisation that adopting the use of a "pre-ferment" to make the best use of the yeast was done on the understanding that this acted as a catalyst and did indeed speed up the key aspects of final dough process.   There is nothing to argue here; we are actually both saying the same thing.

I will cite Hamelman, J. [2nd Edition 2013: pp. 103 -109] where 3 recipes which he would describe as "rustic" all have 50% pre-fermented flour in the formula.   I am happy to be corrected, but I do not think his book includes any other formulae with such a high percentage of pre-fermented flour.

It would be reasonable for you to provide a proper reference for the quotation attributed to Hamelman concerning straight dough.   Not that I disagree with it; far from it! The reference is Hamelman, J. [2nd Edition 2013: pp. 268], and it is a shame the second sentence was not added to the quote:

"Fortunately, some very respectable breads can be made with the straight dough method".

But that is not where I have a problem.   I have re-read your post several times now, and it just does not match up with this.

Compared to SD, straight dough to me is almost tasteless - with or without a poolish.

Dough made using poolish is not a straight definition.   In the main, I agree with what you quote from subfuscpersona, but to me it is completely contradictory to your initial comment quoted above.   I do not think it is ok to change the definition on a whim.   Straight dough does not utilise a pre-ferment, ever.

Best wishes



dabrownman's picture

Compared to SD, straight dough to me is almost tasteless - with or without a completely correct - in every way.    Of course there are times where a or preferment  is considered part of a straight dough.  Here is one example.

When I make a commercial yeast bread bread, I take ADY and mix it with some warm water and a tablespoon of flour and let it prove itself for 5 minutes, just to make sure it is viable before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.  This is a preferment, all be it a young, short lived one but a process done outside and before the mixing of the dough ingredients.  Even though there is a pre-ferment, no one would question this recipe it went in is a straight dough one if te rest if the criteria are met -  even with this preferment .

So, I would guess that no one would have a problem with the water being mixed with the flour for a 5 minute autolyse before the rest of the ingredients were added and mixed all a straight dough either.  This happens to me all the time when the phone rings with a call from the right person - at the wrong time:-)

I did link to the next sentence of Hamelman's comment, and wanted to make sure it was included in the link.  Even the next sentence after that where he listed a couple of breads that were exceptions to his straight dough comment  like challah and and cinnamon, raisin bread was also included.

Even though he is welcome to it, I for one, don't agree with Hamelman's original comment at all.  Straight dough bread is not insipid at all. They taste fine and as good as commercial yeast can make them taste.  Maybe to me, they don't taste as nice as a fine SD bread with autolyse, long retard and a bunch if add ins folded into it later to me but to others, in fact the majority of folks,  don't like the taste of sour bread either, or whole grain ones, or ones with harder bits included in them, or ones with fruits nuts, and seeds or what ever and much prefer the taste of straight dough baguettes and even other straight dough Rustic breads. 

Rustic bread has nothing to do with the amount of preferment, what kind it is or even if it has one, if it is French, Italian or called one by Hamelman.  People were making rustic bread long before Hamelman and commercial yeast came around ....although I'm not so sure about Hamelman:-)  They will be be making rustic bread long afterwards too.

 I agree it is best not to change the meaning of words....or pretty soon we won't be able to talk to each other.  Just because Hamelman used a large poolish preferment amount 3 times and called his bread Rustic doesn't make it so or French either.  There are hundreds of rustic breads and most don't even have a preferment at all it seems. from what i can tell

Happy baking

ananda's picture

DAB, in the example you give of allowing your little mix to sit for 5 minutes, all you are doing is checking the viability of your yeast.   This does not count as a pre-ferment at all.   Please stop splitting hairs and trying to be clever.   Straight dough does not utilise a pre-ferment.   The little test you are carrying out does not constitute a pre-ferment.

You did not provide any reference to the Hamelman quote, nor did you make any mention of the sentence after which I highlighted.

We'll just agree to differ on defining "rustic" or "rustique" as bread made with a large proportion of pre-fermented flour. I am quite happy with Brian using this as a definition.   You are quite entitled to disagree, but I am not going to argue the case anymore as it has nothing whatsoever to do with the OP.   The formula used in the OP was a given.   I will call it a formula for rustic bread.   If you want to see it as something different, or if you think rustic bread is something else, then fine.   We just don't agree about that, and we are not going to.

Best wishes