Poolish is a pre-bread mixture of flour, water, sugar, and yeast that one allows to grow a bit (e.g. overnight) before making bread. I’d never heard of it until I saw it on a YouTube video.
Rather than attempting a new recipe, I thought I’d give it a try with my known-to-work bread recipe. This sort-of worked.
The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of water to proof the yeast then 2/3 cup for the rest of it. A quarter cup seemed a bit light for the poolish, so I used the 2/3 amount. The recipe is 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour. I put a half cup in the poolish. It calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Since this was going to grow overnight, that seemed a bit much. I used a 1/2 teaspoon. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sugar. That’s what I used.
I let it grow for a couple of hours on the counter then put it, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, it was clear that it had grown and then collapsed (ring around the container).
First mistake: I just dumped it into the mixer. It was very cold. This impeded rising. I ended up leaving it outside under the 90 degree sun for an hour.
Second mistake: This is not just a one-for-one swap with “main recipe” ingredients for the poolish ingredients. The loaf was significantly small than usual. Even though I added additional water, it only took 2 cups of flour to result in nominally textured dough.
Third mistake: The baking temperature in the video above is (imho) really high. I went up to 450 and cut the baking time from 22 minutes to 16. The crust still burned.
Despite that, I think the technique is a win. The taste and crumb of the bread is much better than the usual recipe. I shall be trying again, perhaps with that recipe. (Good thing I’ve purchased a kitchen scale!)
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