The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish Anyone?????

gprice157's picture

Poolish Anyone?????

Thanks to "fancypantalons" I am finally aware of "poolish," but suring the "Net" to find a "Recipe" only produced frustration with intelectual hyperbolic discertations on "Hydration Rates," etc. Please give me a straight forward recipe - ingrediant by ingrediant - line by line - specific measurement by specific measurement - and simple instructions on what to do with them.

arzajac's picture

Poolish, biga, pâte fermentée or sponge are all ways to preferment your dough.

See here 

I doubt there is a strict definition for each that clearly defines the differences between them.  But the thing they all have in common is the fact that the flour is in contact with the water and yeast for an extended period of time which results in much better flavor and keeping properties of the finished product.

I suggest you take any bread recipe you have, mix all the ingredients together except for one third of the flour.  Let that sit for eight to twelve hours (say, overnight) and call that a poolish.  Then mix in the remaining third of the flour and continue to make the bread as usual.  That should give you a good idea of what a preferment can do to improve your bread.

Play around with hydration, time and temperature.  Should you add the salt to the poolish or not?  Should you put it in the fridge?  Should you let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours?  Figure out what makes the best bread for you.  You can make significantly different breads using the exact same ingredients simply by changing your technique.


LindyD's picture

It would be a violation of copyright for anyone to lift the entire recipe from a book and republish it here, line by line, with specific instructions, gprice157.

Why not go to your local library and check out a good beginner's bread book, such as Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice? 

You'll not only see beautiful breads pictured, but will learn how to create them - including the importance of hydration.

Or, check out any of the links listed by TFL.  Am sure you'll find something you'll be interested in trying. 

Happy baking!

gprice157's picture

Thanks Arzajac. Even though you quoted from one of the resources I poopooed, you did provide insight into why I couldn't find a simple recipe, and how to interpret that resource.

My latest effort seems to follow that reasoning, as I did take my favorite basic bread machine recipe through the dough cycle, than divided it in half, refrigerated one, than put the other in the bread pan overnight. This morning I added 1/2 the ingredients specified in the recipe, to the bread machine pan; than started the machine on the complete cycle. The loaf looks good.

Next I plan to make another batch, using the second half of the first dough cyle batch,  leaving the "poolish" in the bread pan overnight as before; running the machine through the dough cycle this time; and divide that in halves as before.

We may have a winner. Will have to see.

cdnDough's picture

Here's one:

Water (tepid)     125g
Instant yeast     1g
Unbleached all-purpose flour     125g

Pour water into a mixer bowl, add yeast and flour.  Stiry with a spatula (or paddle if a stand mixer) until the poolish is thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 8-10 hrs or until it inflates and appears sponge like.

NB: I think the issue with copyrights are best left to another thread.

Vey's picture

In anticipation of the question "How many cups is that?" There are various tables out there to tell you, but that is not the right answer, because that is really the wrong question.

By measuring by weight, the question of sifted or unsifted, packed or unpacked, heaping or level, etc. becomes irrelevent. I know it is hard to switch to weight measures, but really when you think about it, weight is the most accurate method for determing quantity. So buy a scale. I use a cheap $5 one that (gasp!) isn't even digital. Do adjust it for tare, no matter what you have.

But, for me, super duper accuracy doesn't matter. I find that the recipes use too much water, so the dough is very sticky. This is a function of where I live. It is very hot and humid here and I don't store my flour in the fridge, so it starts out with a lot of water in it before I add any. So how do I know if the dough is too wet or dry? Depends on how sticky it is when I knead it. I can tell you how I tell (sticks just to the palm), but that will just start me off on how many failures I had before someone showed me what was what.

BTW, I am no authority. I just a person who has been exactly where you are now and boy were my eyelids opened when I took a class. First five minutes and we were on preferments. "Poolish"? I couldn't even spell it right in my notes.

Judon's picture

Here's a link to an amazingly simple and amazingly delicious Italian bread that uses a biga.

Eric helped me get started with this and now I've baked dozens of loaves without a failure.

My family raves about it. I prefer it made with water, 2tsp. honey instead of sugar and about 7 oz of water. I use KA all-purpose flour.

I've tried David Snyder's formula with wild yeast; made it with all milk, and various percentages of milk and water. I've tried bread flour, adding 15-30% rye, 15% whole wheat, every formula turns out a beautiful loave. 

Eric's formula is right on - and check out David's for beautifully detailed steps  

Start with Eric's formula and bake it til you really know it! Then you can make it your own. Success is a great motivater to keep baking.


Good luck,