The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Disappointing Poolish!

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

Disappointing Poolish!

Hey all,

I'm trying to move beyond commercial yeast in my pizza dough and have been very inspired by the preferment/poolish method used at Mozza.

I've tried incorporating into some larger batches of dough, and I'm having very little luck. In general, the final dough is extremely soft and sticky when I ball it up, and eventually those dough balls kind of "pancake out" rather than staying taught and rising upward.

The poolish has been 40% of the total formula flour, and I've used 0.02% ADY of the preferment flour weight, which in my case is just under a gram for 10lbs of flour! It seems like very little, but after 12 hours at room temp, over night, my poolish is pushing the lid of the container. Fortunately, it hadn't collapsed yet.

Can anyone provide some help or insight? Why do my dough balls feel like a corn-starch slurry abd wht are they pancaking, even though I can get thwm to ball up smoothly and hold a seal?

Whwn all is said and done, I'd like a poolish developed enough to add some good flavor to my pizza, but that has enough leavening power that i would really be able to fwel the dough ball inflated with air and noticeable bubbles. I just havent been able to balance that yet!

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

I think of poolish as a flavor additive and not so much a leavening agent.

It sounds like you are fermenting for a reasonable amount of time since the lid is popping so the poolish is mature. The problem is that the gluten is probably spent, or at least past its prime and with a 40% poolish, you have very little gluten left for the final mix. You then make your final mix with 40% depleted flour and I would expect the result to be soupy.

I don't have much experience with pizza dough but I am assuming you are using a 14+% protein flour. I would start by cutting the poolish down to maybe 25% of the total and see what happens. It would help if you provided the formula, times and temps too.

 

Jim

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

I just looked at my baguette formula and I am running a 40% poolish too. FYI I am using 11.7% protein flour. One main difference is that I am not looking for a whole lot of gluten structure - quite the opposite. Extensibility is the the key for baguettes.

Specifically, what flour are you using? What is the total formula hydration? What is your total yeast percentage?

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

Thanks so much for the reply. My intuition told me the gluten may have been too weak as well.

I am using King Arthur Special Patent; their commercial equivalent bread flour. I believe it is 12.7% protein.

The formula is based on a half bag (25lbs of flour.) All water is cool to the touch, so probably around 60f. Poolish is fermented around room temp, probably 68 to 70f. Despite the tiny amount of yeast, the poolish was very active.

Preferment

Flour: 10lbs (100%)

Water: 10lbs (100%)

ADY: 0.9g (0.02% of preferment flour weight) (This barely made it to 12 hours at room temp. Any more and it would have deflated by the time I got to it.)

 

Add to Final Mix

Flour: 15lbs

Water: 6.25lbs

Salt: 284g

 

This is loosely based on the Mozza dough formula, but not nearly as much water. To my knowledge, the only yeast is in the preferment, and they operate around 70% to 72% hydration. Their preferment is also estimated to be an equally large portion of the dough.

However, in all pictures and videos (Specificaly, Nancy's chef's table and Peter's visit to La Brea Bakery,) you can see the dough balls stand very tall and are quite full of air (when pressed, you can see all of the air inflating the dough.)

My results have, sadly, been the opposite. Active poolish but slack dough balls that look like pancakes.

Any help getting me on the right track would be greatly appreciated! I'm really trying to get that well fermented dough and extra flavor from the poolish with a very lively dough that is full of air. It's been a balancing act I can't get a handle on.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Your total flour is 25lbs = 11340g about 

Salt range should be 1.8% - 2%

So you should be looking at around 204g - 227g salt

Yet you have 284g salt. 

Just throwing out ideas here. 

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

My salt is 2.5% (I find this to be the right amount of salt for my taste) but a half percent difference at 2.5% isn't a huge change.

I'll try reducing the preferment amount slightly but I think the gluten was just spent if my dough is so slack. Maybe if I fridge the preferment? 

I cant figure out, for the life of me, why this isn't working out. Everything is within acceptable ranges, but the dough is just pan-caking when balled. 

I could try even less yeast (half a gram for 25lbs total flour with a 12 hour poolish) but I don't see how that would leaven in the final mix. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

So the only thing I can think of is an over fermented high percentage poolish is struggling. That and the extra salt might not help.

I'd say to reduce the poolish, go easy on the fermentation and if you wish add a little extra yeast to the final dough. 

Hope this helps.  

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Please explain. 

Your poolish total is 20lbs

Your flour is 15lbs

Your flour within the poolish is 40% prefermented but wouldn't the poolish itself be 133%?

Now according to my weekend bakery the Pre-Ferment (which is flour + water) should be maximum 50% for good results. 

http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/more-artisan-bread-baking-tips-poolish-biga/

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

My total flour is 25lbs.

My total water is (roughly) 16.25 lbs 

my poolish uses 40% of the total formula flour (10lbs) with an equal weight of water.

So the final mix is the poolish with the remainder 15lbs flour (10 + 15 = 25 total) and 6.25lbs water (10 + 6.25 = 16.25 total) plus salt. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

And they do mean flour within the poolish should be maximum 50%. So yours falls within that range. 

Here is their pizza recipe and while they recommend a maximum of 50% Pre-Ferment they have prefermented around 28% of the flour. 

Perhaps Pre-Ferment less. 

http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/pizza-dough-with-a-poolish/

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

For future reference it would really help if you would stick with grams or kilograms.

25 lbs. of flour is roughly 11340 grams, as Abe noted.

11340 g    Flour         100%

7377  g     Water         65%

  284 g      Salt            2.5%

     .9 g      Yeast         0.008% (????)

Total yeast should be around 0.3% or 34 grams, according to my calculations. Something is amiss. Do me a favor and check the original formula again. From my experience the poolish doesn't really grow yeast - at least not enough to make up 33.1 grams. When I make a poolish I start with a total of 0.3% yeast and add a sprinkle of the total yeast to the poolish. The rest is incorporated in the final mix.

King Arthur makes a product called Sir Lancelot and it comes in at 14% protein. It is recommended for high-gluten, elastic dough like pizza.

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

O.K., I just looked at the formula. They include an additional 1.4% of yeast which is an enormous amount according to my calculations.

Did you miss the 1.4% yeast in your formula listed above or did you miss it all together? (5 grams yeast to 350 grams of flour). At 1.4% you would have added 159 grams of yeast - yikes!

 

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

The book recipe is a version for home bakers.

The bakery itself uses a long preferment and no additional yeast in the final mix

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

isn't necessary as the poolish, if done properly, should suffice. It'll take longer though.

It may sound like too little but the yeast will have multiplied within the poolish.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Might be too long depending on ambient temps.  

You could:  Try shortening it to 8 hrs or mix up with ice water.  or adding some salt to the poolish.

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

I think I'll back off on the yeast, again, in the next batch. Seems like very little but if it's that active after 12 hours to the point the gluten is degrading maybe less yeast is the answer.