Poolish Bread

Poolish is a style of bread where you take a little flour and a little water. Mix that with just a pinch of yeast and leave it over night.

About 12 hours later the magic of yeast would have made this into a pre-ferment. This is added to the remaining flour, water, salt and yeast. Every 30-40 mins a gentle pull and fold. Then once you are satisfied with the gluten development, shape it into a loaf and bake.

The important thing is knowing the quantities of individual ingredients to use.

I love high hydration dough and hence went with 75%.

My calculations are based on 450 grams of flour because I wanted to make two loaves of 400 grams each.

So lets do some quick math.

  • Flour : 450 grams.
  • Water : 337 grams (450 * 0.75)
  • Salt : 9 grams (450 * 0.02)
  • Yeast : 9 grams (450 * 0.02)

Calculation for Poolish:

  • Flour : 75 grams (450 / 6)
  • Water : 112 grams (337 (Water weight) / 3)
  • A pinch of yeast.

After removing for Poolish, you will have 375 grams of flour and 225 grams of water left for mixing in the morning.

If you add all the ingredients i.e. 450 (Flour) + 337 (Water) + 9 (salt) + 9 (yeast) you will get 805 grams.

If you add all the percentages i.e. 100 (Flour) + 75 (Water) + 2 (Salt) + 2 (Yeast) you will get the bakers percentage of 179.

If you want to modify this recipe for a different final dough size, simply multiple what you want with 100 and divide with the baker’s percentage. So if instead of the 800 grams final dough you want 1000 grams. You will need to do ( 1000 grams * 100 / 179 baker’s percentage) or 558 grams of flour. Use this new value to calculate the weight of water, salt and yeast.

Its always a good idea to prepare the poolish at night. So it can remain undisturbed for a good 12 hours or so. Mix the flour, water and a pinch of yeast. It will be a very thin liquid mess. Leave it covered.

In the morning you will find a lot of bubbles all over the poolish. This means its has worked and the pre-ferment is ready for use.

First add the remaining water to it and mix it well. Then add the flour followed by the yeast and salt. Avoid putting the salt granules on top of the yeast. Mix well. Use a bench scrapper or a silicon spoon. This will be a very sticky dough and do not give in to the temptation to add more flour.

Every 30-40 minutes, lightly wet your hands. Hold the dough in one corner and lift it up. Pull and lay it like a blanket over the dough ball. Do it for each side.

After the third or fourth such pull and fold, you will see the gluten has developed really well and the top starts looking very smooth. Now its ready for the final shaping.

Sprinkle flour on the work surface. Put the dough on it. Divide into the number of loaves you want. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. This will prevent it from sticking on your hands. Do not use pressure and squeeze the dough. If you do that the nonstick nature will go away and it will stick to your fingers. Lightly shape it into a loaf.

Leave it for about 15 minutes while you start preheating the oven at 210C.

Bake for at least 30 minutes.

Let it cool completely before slicing.



Published by Imran

A s/w engineer by profession, I cook for my family.

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