Poolish Bread

A Poolish is a pre-ferment usually combing equal parts of flour and water (by weight) with some yeast.

The origin of the term Poolish is that it is named after a method used by Polish bakers around 1840 when it was brought to France.

However – Poolish is an old English version of Polish and this term seems to be most used in France where polonais is the word for Polish – strange!

Fermentation is carried out at room temperature for some time – long enough for the Poolish to bubble up and increase its volume. This can take anywhere from 3 to 24 hours.

Using  Poolish is said to give a light texture to the dough, develop a sweetness of flavour and also give a good colour in the crust.

This recipe is adapted from Bake it Better  – Bread – edited by Linda Collister, Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.

The original amounts made two very big loaves so I the second time I made this,  I cut it down, to make two small loaves – these are the instructions below.

Ingredients – Day One

  • 25g wholemeal flour
  • 150g strong flour
  • 10g fresh yeast (5g dried)
  • 175ml water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Method – Day One

  • Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a jug
  • Leave for about 5 -10 minutes.
  • Mix the two flours together in a bowl.
  • Make a well and pour in the yeast mixture.
  • Bring it all together to make a thick lump free mixture.
  • Cover the bowl (a shower cap is good)
  • Leave a room temperature for 20 – 24 hours.

Ingredients – Day Two

  • Poolish from day one
  • 125ml water
  • 250g strong flour (maybe a little more)
  • ½ tablespoon of salt

Method – Day Two

  • To the Poolish add the water and mix to make a smooth batter.
  • Add 125g of the flour and mix it in by hand.
  • Add the salt.
  • Gradually add the rest of the flour until you have a soft but not sticky dough.
  • Add more flour if necessary.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes (set a timer).
  • Put back into a large bowl and cover (a shower cap is good).
  • Leave to rise till double in size – around 3 hours.
  • When it looks nearly ready – line a baking sheet with grease-proof paper.
  • Knock back the dough with your knuckles to deflate it.
  • Cut the dough into two pieces.
  • Leave them to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Knead each piece for 1 minute.
  • Shape each piece and put it on the baking sheet.
  • Dust them lightly with some flour.
  • Cover loosely and leave to prove for 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM7 220°C
  • Put a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven to heat up.
  • Cut 3 slashes in the top of each loaf (oops I forget the 2nd time!).
  • Put the loaves in the oven.
  • Quickly pour a glass of water into the roasting tin (the steam helps to give a good crust).
  • Close the door and bake for around 30 minutes.
  • Leave to cool on a wire cake rack.

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I love cooking and baking. I love trying out new recipes and currently am trying out many old favourites from my Polish cookbooks and family recipes. I am trying out many variations, often to make them easier but still delicious. I collect glass cake stands and china tableware, mainly tea plates, jugs and serving dishes, many of which I use on a daily basis. They are an eclectic mixture from the 20th & 21st century.

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