The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to use a preferment / poolish? Cake vs ADY?

BakerNewbie's picture

How to use a preferment / poolish? Cake vs ADY?

I'm experimenting with a yeasted dinner roll recipe. I'd like to use a pre-ferment (poolish) to enhance the bread's flavor.

According to, I should be using 20% - 30% of my flour's weight for the pre-ferment. So, let's say I pick 20% for starters. A poolish uses the same amount of water to the flour, so I'd use 20% water. Let's also say I want to do pre-ferment up to 16 hours in advance. According to, I should be using .03% to .08% (of the 20% flour).

Once I make this poolish pre-ferment, do I still need to use the original yeast called for by the recipe? Or does the pre-ferment eliminate the need for the yeast?

Also - if yeast flavor is what I am after, should I be using cake yeast instead of ADY?

suave's picture

Sure, you can use 20-30% of flour in your preferment, it is very common, but if someone asked me for a number off top of my head, I'd have said - 50%.  At least for white bread.  As to the yeast, yes 0.05% of IDY for 16 hors sounds like a reasonable place to start.  

The original yeast, here it gets a bit more complicated -  you see, the larger the amount of the prefermented flour, the more yeast you introduce into the dough with it.  So 20% of prefermented flour will have less leavening power than 50% of prefermented flour.   What it means is, yes you can skip it, but bulk fermentation times will be affected, and with 20% preferment they may turn out to be longer than it is practical.  The bottom line is, typically some yeast is added, something like 0.5% IDY to the flour going into the final dough.

semolina_man's picture

My standard recipe is 33% of total flour weight in the poolish.  Poolish water:flour ratio is 1:1 and 1/16 tsp of yeast.   Ferment overnight.    The small amount of yeast can be measured by dissolving 1/4 tsp of yeast in 1 cup of warm water, then using 1/4 cup of the solution in the poolish.   It might sound complicated, but it is very easy. 


Poolish + balance of flour + balance of water + 2% salt + 1/4 tsp yeast = main dough for bulk ferment. 

Colin2's picture

1. As noted above, don't worry about what % is prefermented.  I often use half or more.

2. And as noted, you don't need any more yeast.  Recipes that add some more yeast when they make up the dough are trying to control the timing a little more, so if you omit additional yeast at that moment the bulk rise may take a bit longer.  I have two batches of dough in bulk ferment right now that were made from a preferment started three days ago.  Neither got any more yeast, and I am watching both and letting them tell me when they are ready for shaping.

3. Yeast by itself doesn't really add flavor (nor would you really want bread to taste like yeast!)  What a preferment is doing is giving yeast longer to metabolize stuff in the flour and thereby develop flavors.  I'd use whatever form of yeast you are comfortable with.

Happy baking!

clazar123's picture

Right now you may be confused. All suggestions lead to bread. Pick a method, write it down, use it and see if you like the process and result. If you do-repeat next time. As simple (and complicated) as that.

Happy baking in this new year!