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.