The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

So I let a sponge/poolish sit out 3 days...

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KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

So I let a sponge/poolish sit out 3 days...

My intentions were good, but I never made time to bake. But I fed it each day with more flour and water. Is it spoiled? It looks great. Is it full of nasty bacteria or can I just bake some bread with it?

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

The answer seems to be NO.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

No, it's not spoiled or no, you can't bake with it?

That's just the way that sourdough started is treated in the beginning.  I don't see any problem with using it myself, but I'm no expert.  I'd try it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Like Pablo commented, it sounds like a starter. 

How big was it when you started and how big is it now ?

What is the temperature of the dough?  Was it in the fridge?

Take a large spoonful and fry it on Medium in a fry pan on both sides, let it cool and taste it.  Sour enough for you? 

When did you last add flour to it?  If it was less than 3 or 4 hours ago, I'd be tempted to shape it, let it rise and bake it but that is just a guess with very little information.  So, I just got up and have a nice block of time today. The more added info you can provide, the better.

Tell all,

Mini O

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

I just wanted to make a sponge, not a sourdough starter because I was tired of the regular sourdough I make all the time. So I mixed a little fast acting yeast with a half cup each of flour and water. But then I didn't bake. So I added a little more flour and water and again, didn't bake so I fed it again. After 3 days I tasted a tiny bit on my tongue and it was off, to say the least! Bitter and icky. I guess it was some icky bacteria like a 3 day old sourdough starter or something. I rinsed off my tongue under the faucet! Anyway, I just bought a wonderful loaf from a local bakery and it's inspirational.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

oh well, thanks for all the detail.  I take it you're ditching this and starting over.  Very well.  I won't challenge you to take on more than you can handle.   Sounds like you should convert your regular sd starter to a firm starter and take a break for a while from sourdough.  By refreshing it with lots of flour, and I mean a lot, so that it just holds together, it can rest at the back of the fridge for a week or longer until you're ready.  Take a bake brake, many do in summer.  

Mini O

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

I just wanted to make a sponge, not a sourdough starter because I was tired of the regular sourdough I make all the time. So I mixed a little fast acting yeast with a half cup each of flour and water. But then I didn't bake. So I added a little more flour and water and again, didn't bake so I fed it again. After 3 days I tasted a tiny bit on my tongue and it was off, to say the least! Bitter and icky. I guess it was some icky bacteria like a 3 day old sourdough starter or something. I rinsed off my tongue under the faucet! Anyway, I just bought a wonderful loaf from a local bakery and it's inspirational.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi Kristin.

I think your poolish is fine, as long as you had fed it all along, there should be no problem. It will not leven your dough, however, it will give it a great flavor. BTW I would make sure that the poolish amount you use in your final dough does not exceed 25% of the flour you use in your dough. Aside from that you should be good to go. I'll let someone more knowledgeable comment on the flavors of the starter that you have reported. Good Luck.

Rudy

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

No, it was definitely spoiled. A couple more weeks and it might have become a sourdough. But at 3 days on the counter with daily feedings, it was gross and foul like a 3 day old new starter. It was full of bacteria for sure. Maybe in the fridge it would have been fine, but I'm glad I didn't bake with it.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Well better safe than sorry I guess. :)

Rudy

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Kristin,

Sorry to say, I'm not surprised your poolish was spoiled: my experience is that you have to use your poolish within 8-16 hours of mixing, depending on room and ingredient temperatures and the ratio of yeast to flour, or it will provide too much acid for commercial yeast to be able to do their job in the dough. I know from experience. :-( The dough was soft and weak and eventually just started to break down!

Typically a poolish will ripen faster than a biga, a lower hydration preferment. But even with a biga you want to use it just when it is ripe. With a biga you can definitely retard it in the refrigerator, but even then there's a statute of limitations (after 3 days in the fridge, it's probably over).

You CAN extend the amount of time before your preferment ripens by using less, lots less, yeast. Maggie Glezer uses a preferment with some extremely small amount of yeast, like 1/300th Teaspoon. Even then, that preferment is supposed to be used within 24 hours.

(Good reading in J. Hamelman's Bread book on preferments, also in Reinhart's BBA.) Say, I found the very chapter in Bread I wanted online: here's an excerpt and a link to a larger excerpt from Hamelman:

"If there is evidence that the poolish has risen and then collapsed (you may see a "highwater" mark on the sides of the bowl), then the poolish is past its prime. ... The goal is to have the pre-ferment at its full ripeness when you are ready to use it, and therefore the correct yeast quantities will increase and decrease as the seasons come and go. The amount of yeast necessary for a poolish to ripen in 16 hours at 80°F might be .08 percent of the poolish flour weight, but the same poolish might need .25 percent yeast at 65°F. The other factor determining yeast quantity is the duration of the ripening phase, with longer ripenings needing less yeast."

(BTW those yeast percentages are for fresh yeast. Multiply by .33 for instant yeast.)

Here's a link:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Bread/Jeffrey-Hamelman/e/9780471168577#CHP

Good luck with your next preferment!

Soundman (David)

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Although it's being referred to as a poolish, Kristin said she fed it each day. That's treating it like a starter. It seems to me that it might have been OK. Of course, it's not, because she said it tasted yucky, but initially she said it looked good. Might a poolish that gets fed each day continue on? Maybe it would need a more generous feeding as the days wore on and more and more yeast/bacteria developed. I know we extract a small amount of starter to mix with a fair amount of water and flour to keep a starter going. You would need to add quite a bit of flour/water to maintain that ratio when feeding a growing pot of glop.

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

But when you start a new starter, it's really gross on the 3rd day. I don't know if the commercial yeast starter protects itself from spoiling when treated like a sourdough.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Yeah, that's true about the 3rd day on the starter being gross. Funny that they can then bring themselves around and be sweet and lovely. I'm sure there are technical explanations. I've just got my first starter going, it's been about a week, I've just mixed up my first dough. I'll be baking it tomorrow. Anyway, it sounds like your poolish was doomed, fed or not. Too bad.