The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

How much poolish can I use?

tttt1010's picture

How much poolish can I use?

If I want to make a dough with 70% hydration, can I make a poolish that makes up the entire water weight of the dough? Some of my concerns are that 

1: There would be no water left for autolysing the rest of the flour

2. There is a risk of too much sugar being consumed by the yeast, in the end leaving little left for browning and flavor. Though I also wonder if this can be offset by adding extra sugar after to poolish is ready.

3. Gluten would be too weak due to the high % of prefermented flour, but I'm not sure if this is true.

Does anyone have insights to these concerns? I also wonder if there is a cut off in % of poolish used where its benefits is no longer noticeable. Generally, if you aren't following a recipe, how much poolish would you add to maximize flavor?

gavinc's picture

Mystery about your formula. A poolish would never consume all of the water in the total formula. A poolish only includes a certain percent of the overall formula. Given that  a poolish is even amounts of flour and water, so there must me some water left for the final dough mix. Below is an example of baguettes with poolish formula where 33% of flour is refermented in the poolish.

tttt1010's picture

It's really that there will always be some flour left for the final dough mix. For the recipe you posted, there can be 383g water and 383g flour for the poolish. Then for the final dough, add 181 g flour and all the salt. This would be the maximum amount of poolish possible for the recipe. My question is why doesn't recipes push the amount of poolish to the max and what determines how much poolish is used.

gavinc's picture

delete. I misunderstood where you were coming from

gavinc's picture

He's an example of the water consumed in the poolish, although I've never seen such a formula by any baker I know of. The final mix add the rest of the ingredients to finish up with a 68% hydration dough. Is that what you're asking? If you match the water % in the overall formula with the Prefermented flour %i n the poolish, you finish up with 0 water in the final mix.

tttt1010's picture

yes this is what I was talking about

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Two suggestions:

1. 50% is is the highest I recall seeing in a published formula, by Forkish I think. 

2.  Until you can answer questions yourself like the one you’ve posted, why not follow tested, trusted, published recipes?  Work your way through Hammelman or Forkish. Learn from the masters rather than reinvent the wheel. 

Happy Baking. 


phaz's picture

Short answer - yes you can. The other concerns are irrelevant, your skills and knowledge of the fundamentals will overcome.  Enjoy! 

Abe's picture

The more of the flour is autolysed. Although i've heard up to 50% of the flour for a poolish is a good guide. 

Colin2's picture

I've done a poolish with 100% of the water.  I don't recall the results being especially great but there's no technical obstacle.  I guess the other variable is how long the poolish ferments.  I have no grip on the optimal %.  As another commenter suggests I would probably defer to Hamelman there.

foodforthought's picture

1. I tend to use a combination of poolish and sourdough levain in most breads I bake. The problem I’ve run into with very high proportions (>30 -40%) of prefermented flour is when I go to incorporate the rest of the flour, it seems difficult to completely mix remaining ingredients with only a small amount of water or other liquid. The liquid components of the preferment don’t seem to easily migrate readily to the drier ingredients, even with extended mechanical kneading.

2. I doubt this is relevant. I rarely use sugar in bread doughs and I still get great browning.

3. Unlikely. Prefermented flour exhibits plenty of gluten and, I guess, complements the gluten development in bulk. Seems to me it jump starts gluten development.

suave's picture

Sure, why not.

1.  You won't do the autolyse.  So what?

2.  The yeast does not not consume every last molecule of sugar, and in properly malted flour more is continously produced

3.  That's not true, if it were no knead bread would not work..