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Time for bulk fermentation - Forkish

Jim Burgin's picture
Jim Burgin

Time for bulk fermentation - Forkish

I am working in Forkish book (Flour Salt Water Yeast), the recipe "White Bread With Poolish" on page 98.  He prescribes a 12-14 hour unrefrigerated fermentation for the poolish.  I read in another book that this kind of poolish fermentation could be lengthened to 24-48 hours to move toward a bread flavor somewhat like sourdough without all the work of developing sourdough starter..  What do you think?  Anyone out there tried this?  Thanks much. Jim Burgin  .   

Ming's picture

First of all, you are changing the recipe recommended by the book so be prepared to get something different in return, most likely not a good one unless you are an experienced baker (you wouldn't be asking if you were). Secondly, a poolish (with instant yeast) will never be like a sourdough starter regardless how long you ferment it as the acids are different. Also, the rate of fermentation of a poolish will depend on the amount of yeast used, most 1/3 poolishes I have seen use only a pinch of instant yeast (a very small amount) so it would withstand some fermentation time before degradation begin but 48 hours of countertop fermentation does not sound good to me. Good luck!!!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it was constantly in the refrigerator. You could say half the loaf was a poolish and the other half was fresh mixed dough with additional yeast.  I was surprised how long it stayed workable in the fridge, longer than 48 hrs. I do not remember any counter time.  Takes up a lot of fridge space.  I think following one of Peter Reinhart's wheat recipes.  

Colin2's picture

How many times have you made this recipe?  Forkish is rather particular in how he does things.  This is his charm.  If you're following him, I'd follow him exactly, repeatedly, until you have good results consistently before modifying the recipes.

The advice you have so far re poolishes is excellent.  Still, there's no harm trying unusual moves as long as you're ready to eat your failures.  That's how we all learn!  But it's best to experiment starting from a tried and true recipe.

mariana's picture

Yes. This method works. Sometimes. You can mix bread flour, water and yeast, leave it to ferment for 48hrs and have a bona fide sourdough starter with wild yeast and sourdough bacteria present in it. You can use it to acidify, flavor or leaven bread dough.

Essentially, you will be using this  recipe for a sd starter from scratch using white bread flour, water, and yeast which is ready in 2-5 days at room temperature:

However, it will be different from poolish. Poolish has its gluten intact and it has a very mild flavor, a total opposite of sourdough starter or levain naturel. As poolish ferments, it rises to the max volume and stays there for a while. It is used before it deflates in order not to spoil the bread dough. Once poolish deflates, it has to be tossed out, it becomes unusable. The amount of yeast in poolish is carefully calculated to match its temperature and length of fermentation, so that it does not overferment, becomes too acidic and falls/deflates before it is used. 

If you leave your poolish for two days straight unattended, there will be no undamaged gluten left in it and it might get very stinky and make your bread stinky. Damaged gluten makes bread stink and young sd starter microflora makes bread stink. So such "one step sourdough starter method" is a hit and miss process. Sometimes 24-48hrs is enough and sometimes it is not, i.e. it will need more time, up to five days. The resulting young "starter" might spoil your bread dough and the resulting bread.

Experiment with it and see if you are lucky and will get good results.

Colin2's picture

What a lucid explanation for many of my early failures!  Thanks for this.

What I've concluded over the decades is that sourdoughs/levains, and conventional yeast fermentations (long or short), are just different things.  They do different things.  I love sourdough though it's not what I'm doing right now.  I do long ferments with CY partly for convenience, partly because in my experience it delivers better flavor.  But the better flavor it delivers is a more deeply "wheaty" and slightly sweeter flavor, not a sour flavor.