Author Topic: A Poolish ?  (Read 4808 times)

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Offline creampuff

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A Poolish ?
« on: October 28, 2007, 10:37:15 AM »
This site has become so addicting, I had to sign up for membership.  

I have tried to answer my own question, as I do not want to bother the veterans with redundancy. However, as much as I have explored the topic of poolish, I have not come up with the answer.

I just want to know if it is possible to develop and keep a poolish going made from just flour, water, and ADY.

I only have 1 complaint with this site, I can't seem to get away from it and it is keeping from making lots of pizza.  OMG, you guys are BRILLIANT.

Thanks,
Andrea


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2007, 11:30:45 AM »
creampuff,

That is a good question.

A classic poolish is made up of equal amounts, by weight, of flour and water, and a small amount of commercial yeast. For example, a poolish that is subjected to a 12-15 hours room temperature ferment might use only 0.03% IDY, by weight of flour in the poolish. This assumes a poolish water temperature of 60 degrees F and a fermentation temperature of 80-85 degrees F. If you religiously feed the poolish with equal amounts of flour and water (to maintain it as a poolish) and maintain the correct temperatures, I believe the yeast should continue to be fed. But, unless you are on top of matters, at some point the yeast may start to die. If the yeast stops working, then your poolish will "die" at some point and no longer be usable as a poolish. However, it is possible that natural yeast might take over your preferment somewhere along the way. I have never heard of a "natural" poolish, but at least from a hydration standpoint that is essentially what you would have if you continue to feed it.

I once made a sponge using flour, water and commercial yeast and fed it periodically to see if I could keep it going. I managed to do this for a while and I was able to use it to make dough, but I must have become lazy or inattentive somewhere along the way and forgot to feed the sponge or to maintain the proper temperatures and, as a result, the sponge stopped working.

Most preferments using commercial yeast are intended to be made and used within a specified time window unique to the particular type of preferment. Other than as an interesting experiment, I don't see much value in trying to create and maintain a preferment based on using commercial yeast. You will get more in the way of flavor-, color- and aroma-enhancing byproducts of fermentation using a natural starter/preferment.

Peter

Offline creampuff

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2007, 02:30:04 PM »
creampuff,

That is a good question.

A classic poolish is made up of equal amounts, by weight, of flour and water, and a small amount of commercial yeast. For example, a poolish that is subjected to a 12-15 hours room temperature ferment might use only 0.03% IDY, by weight of flour in the poolish. This assumes a poolish water temperature of 60 degrees F and a fermentation temperature of 80-85 degrees F. If you religiously feed the poolish with equal amounts of flour and water (to maintain it as a poolish) and maintain the correct temperatures, I believe the yeast should continue to be fed. But, unless you are on top of matters, at some point the yeast may start to die. If the yeast stops working, then your poolish will "die" at some point and no longer be usable as a poolish. However, it is possible that natural yeast might take over your preferment somewhere along the way. I have never heard of a "natural" poolish, but at least from a hydration standpoint that is essentially what you would have if you continue to feed it.

I once made a sponge using flour, water and commercial yeast and fed it periodically to see if I could keep it going. I managed to do this for a while and I was able to use it to make dough, but I must have become lazy or inattentive somewhere along the way and forgot to feed the sponge or to maintain the proper temperatures and, as a result, the sponge stopped working.

Most preferments using commercial yeast are intended to be made and used within a specified time window unique to the particular type of preferment. Other than as an interesting experiment, I don't see much value in trying to create and maintain a preferment based on using commercial yeast. You will get more in the way of flavor-, color- and aroma-enhancing byproducts of fermentation using a natural starter/preferment.

Peter

Peter - I apologize for the delayed response, I had to run out for a bit and forgot to log-off.

I have read how some pizza makers will use left over dough for their new batches, and I thought that if you could keep a good poolish going it might make a good base.  Obviously I do not know a whole lot about how the preferment works.

Does it make a big difference if you just start from scratch with IDY vs an on going poolish? Or am I just not understanding the purpose of poolish?  I am wanting more flavor and I think a poolish is an ingredient that will provide enhanced flavor, but, I do not want a real yeasty taste either.

The poolish I am in the process of creating looks just like Steve's pics ( smells pretty good too) and I guess that is why I got on this poolish kick of mine (no pun intended).

I am wondering what is in a natural starter/preferment? If it is posted somewhere I am sorry asking.

TY
Andrea




Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2007, 04:33:23 PM »
Andrea,

Let me start first with your question about what a natural starter/preferment is. Simply stated, it is a mixture of flour, water and wild (or natural) yeast. If the starter culture is properly maintained and properly fed, it can last for years. When used to leaven pizza dough or to confer other attributes to the dough, such as acidity and strengthening of the dough, there are literally hundreds of biochemical activities and byproducts of fermentation that are produced. These are largely responsible for the flavor, color and texture of the finished crust. By their nature, natural starters/preferments are intended to be long term in nature in terms of their use. Once made, they only need to be fed and otherwise properly maintained.

By contrast, preferments based on using commercial yeast, whether it is fresh yeast (aka cake or compressed yeast), active dry yeast (ADY), or instant dry yeast (IDY), are intended to be short term solutions to improving the flavor and other attributes of finished crusts (or breads). The biochemical activity and byproducts of fermentation are far fewer and far less complex than with natural preferments. This limits their contribution to the flavors, color, aroma and texture of finished crusts.

Some common preferments based on commercial yeast are bigas, poolish, sponge, and old dough. They have different characteristics in terms of flour/water ratios, hydration, yeast quantity, water temperature, and fermentation temperatures and times. Their end applications are also different. For example, poolish is considered a good option for baguettes, sponges are good for sweet breads, and bigas are good for doughs that need strength, like brioche. Depending on the preferment selected, they are typically made and used from about a few hours to about a day (usually at room temperature), or possibly within a few days if refrigerated. They are not regularly fed like natural preferments are. If that were a viable option, then much will have been written on the subject. But I have not seen that in my readings. So that leads me to believe that regularly feeding such preferments, such as a poolish, is either impractical or not viable. However, that shouldn’t discourage you from trying, even if it is to confirm what I have said. But, whatever you do, I think it is best to know what your are trying to achieve and for what purpose. A lot of people just like to throw things together and hope for the best. There is nothing per se wrong with that, but you can spend forever trying to achieve the desired end results. You also have to ask yourself whether you want your pizza crusts to taste like other baked goods. I once used a biga-like preferment for a NY style pizza and got crust flavors that tasted like a baguette bread. I liked the flavor but not as much in a pizza crust.

Preferments based on using commercial yeast will offer many advantages over using just plain IDY or other form of yeast in straight dough methods. You would have to make a dough that can last several days (from about 8 to 15 days) and still be usable (as I have done) to start to get crust flavors, color and texture that even approach what you can get with natural starters/preferments or even classic preferments. 

The old dough method you mentioned is a preferment method. Having written on that topic before, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4764.msg40475.html#msg40475 (Reply 1), I will refer you to that post rather than elaborating on it here. You might also want to take a look at the Pizza Glossary at http://www.pizzamaking.com/pizza_glossary.html, which defines a lot of the terms used in respect of natural starters/preferments and commercial yeast preferments.

Peter

Offline creampuff

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2007, 05:21:32 PM »
Andrea,

Let me start first with your question about what a natural starter/preferment is. Simply stated, it is a mixture of flour, water and wild (or natural) yeast. If the starter culture is properly maintained and properly fed, it can last for years. When used to leaven pizza dough or to confer other attributes to the dough, such as acidity and strengthening of the dough, there are literally hundreds of biochemical activities and byproducts of fermentation that are produced. These are largely responsible for the flavor, color and texture of the finished crust. By their nature, natural starters/preferments are intended to be long term in nature in terms of their use. Once made, they only need to be fed and otherwise properly maintained.

By contrast, preferments based on using commercial yeast, whether it is fresh yeast (aka cake or compressed yeast), active dry yeast (ADY), or instant dry yeast (IDY), are intended to be short term solutions to improving the flavor and other attributes of finished crusts (or breads). The biochemical activity and byproducts of fermentation are far fewer and far less complex than with natural preferments. This limits their contribution to the flavors, color, aroma and texture of finished crusts.

Some common preferments based on commercial yeast are bigas, poolish, sponge, and old dough. They have different characteristics in terms of flour/water ratios, hydration, yeast quantity, water temperature, and fermentation temperatures and times. Their end applications are also different. For example, poolish is considered a good option for baguettes, sponges are good for sweet breads, and bigas are good for doughs that need strength, like brioche. Depending on the preferment selected, they are typically made and used from about a few hours to about a day (usually at room temperature), or possibly within a few days if refrigerated. They are not regularly fed like natural preferments are. If that were a viable option, then much will have been written on the subject. But I have not seen that in my readings. So that leads me to believe that regularly feeding such preferments, such as a poolish, is either impractical or not viable. However, that shouldn’t discourage you from trying, even if it is to confirm what I have said. But, whatever you do, I think it is best to know what your are trying to achieve and for what purpose. A lot of people just like to throw things together and hope for the best. There is nothing per se wrong with that, but you can spend forever trying to achieve the desired end results. You also have to ask yourself whether you want your pizza crusts to taste like other baked goods. I once used a biga-like preferment for a NY style pizza and got crust flavors that tasted like a baguette bread. I liked the flavor but not as much in a pizza crust.

Preferments based on using commercial yeast will offer many advantages over using just plain IDY or other form of yeast in straight dough methods. You would have to make a dough that can last several days (from about 8 to 15 days) and still be usable (as I have done) to start to get crust flavors, color and texture that even approach what you can get with natural starters/preferments or even classic preferments. 

The old dough method you mentioned is a preferment method. Having written on that topic before, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4764.msg40475.html#msg40475 (Reply 1), I will refer you to that post rather than elaborating on it here. You might also want to take a look at the Pizza Glossary at http://www.pizzamaking.com/pizza_glossary.html, which defines a lot of the terms used in respect of natural starters/preferments and commercial yeast preferments.

Peter


I am pondering everything you have told me (takes a bit to soak in).  Your comment "You also have to ask yourself whether you want your pizza crusts to taste like other baked goods" makes perfect sense to me of which I did not consider, and no, I do not want it to taste like other baked goods.  I want pizza to have that nice brown color with little bubbles visible along the edge of the crust with a slight sheen to it, able to fold, yet you get that crunch from the crust, but it still has that chewy texture too.

I have practiced for about 4 years, and until I got ahold of some HG Flour this past summer and found this fourm it was awful.  I have learned so much in the past few weeks and the improvement is remarkable.  I will actually allow friends now taste my version of east coast pizza.  So far the response has been great.  I just can't believe what they consider pizza here.  All I can do to give a comparison is tell you, coming from Jersey I never had to eat a Pizza Hut Pizza back east, it is probably the best you will find in this area :o

I will keep plugging along...the goal is to get out of the corp world and open a small shop, but I want to be consistant.  I know hard work, had a small bakery business in the 80's and I'm not scared of it. I do know you can get a customer to spend a buck, but it is all dependent on wether they will come back.

If you were a shop owner(maybe you are and I don't know it)would you just start fresh everyday,for the next day with ADY?

Thanks again for your help and clarification,

Andrea

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2007, 06:28:36 PM »
Andrea,

A lot of what you are after in the way of a finished crust is independent of the use of starters or preferments, but preferments using commercial yeast will often be used to get a crispier crust. But many if not most dough formulations can be adapted to use preferments. It is largely a math exercise, but doable.

In a home setting, you can do pretty much what you want in terms of using preferments. So, using natural starters/preferments is a good option. However, if you plan to use preferments in a commercial business setting, it will be far easier to use preferments that are based on commercial yeast. You don’t often hear about pizza operators doing this, but I am sure that they are several who are doing it but aren’t saying. It might be using the old dough method but it might be using one of the other preferments. No doubt, there are a few hardy souls out there who are using natural starters/preferments but I would guess that in most cases they are the owners or a member of the owner’s family.

Whichever preferment you ultimately elect to use, you will want to keep it simple and such that low cost labor can be used to make the preferments and incorporate them into the final doughs. I think you can see how difficult it would be to have low cost labor try to keep your poolish going and functional day after day after day. Using natural starters/preferments would be even harder, if not impossible from a practical standpoint. That’s why making your preferments in accordance with a preestablished schedule and using commercial yeast, whether it is ADY or some other form of yeast, makes a lot of sense to me. Ultimately, you would have to determine which type and amount of preferment you will need to meet your daily/weekly requirements of dough. Going with an overnight fermentation at room temperature would be a good choice because you will get more byproducts of fermentation. If refrigeration is desired, then you have to provide for refrigeration facilities.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about.

Peter

Offline JerryMac

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2007, 10:37:02 PM »
Andrea,

I always use a "Poolish" in my NY dough nowadays .

Im just realy getting started into sourdough, and from my limited knowledge if you keep a "Poolish" "going" long enough. what you are in essence going to wind up with is a "Starter"

Somebody please correct me if I am way off base here  ;)

Mangia Bene  :chef:
Jerry 

Offline scott r

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 10:43:47 PM »
You are not totally off base, but I think you would have a much easier time catching wild yeast if it didn't have to compete with commercial yeast to survive. 

Offline creampuff

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2007, 11:26:42 PM »
You are not totally off base, but I think you would have a much easier time catching wild yeast if it didn't have to compete with commercial yeast to survive. 

Thats the part I don't understand yet (I haven't read enough yet I suppose) the difference in wild & commercial.  I will do some more reading so you guys don't have to keep repeating stuff that is already posted somewhere.  And, as I replied to Peter...It takes a while to soak into my head.  Thanks U guys.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2007, 12:38:39 AM »
As I understand it--and I am willing to be corrected on this--if one tries to keep a poolish based on commercial yeast going by feeding it flour and water on a regular basis, but not adding more commercial yeast, the mix will eventually be taken over by wild yeast. When that happens, the wild yeast and the bacteria will cause the mix to become fairly highly acidic. The wild yeast can survive in that acidic environment, but the commercial yeast wont. Once the commercial yeast dies, the dead cells will be eaten by the lactobacillus. So, I would say that scott's advice makes a lot of sense.


Offline creampuff

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2007, 12:48:21 AM »
As I understand it--and I am willing to be corrected on this--if one tries to keep a poolish based on commercial yeast going by feeding it flour and water on a regular basis, but not adding more commercial yeast, the mix will eventually be taken over by wild yeast. When that happens, the wild yeast and the bacteria will cause the mix to become fairly highly acidic. The wild yeast can survive in that acidic environment, but the commercial yeast wont. Once the commercial yeast dies, the dead cells will be eaten by the lactobacillus. So, I would say that scott's advice makes a lot of sense.

Peter,
Does this mean that if the wild yeast can survive once the commercial yeast dies off, that you can continue to harvest the poolish with just F&W if feed on a regular schedule.  I had some going for about a week when I first asked this question, and I can tell you that until I dumped it, the aroma was really pleasant.

I hope I'm not bugging you and really being DUH here.  It's like I understand 1/2 of what this string is saying, and the other have keeps me guessing.  Not a bad thing I suppose, just don't want to be annoying.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2007, 06:51:00 AM »
Does this mean that if the wild yeast can survive once the commercial yeast dies off, that you can continue to harvest the poolish with just F&W if feed on a regular schedule.  I had some going for about a week when I first asked this question, and I can tell you that until I dumped it, the aroma was really pleasant.

Andrea,

I would say yes. However, since a poolish is technically a preferment based on using commercial yeast I would refer to what you would end up with as a "natural poolish" or something else to distinguish the two and avoid confusion since just about everyone associates the term "poolish" with a preferment using commercial yeast. And you would still want to use equal parts of flour and water (100% hydration) if you use the "natural poolish" designation, again to avoid confusion.

Peter

Offline JerryMac

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2007, 08:55:53 AM »
Creampuff,

I agree with Pete, evenutally the commercial yeast will die off and the wild wild take over, leaving you with what is a natural yeast starter.

Have made starters both ways, with commercial yeast, and, no yeast at all (just capturing the wild yeast) and they both seem to, over time, wind up almost identical.

Mangia Bene  :chef:
Jerry

Offline November

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2008, 07:58:58 PM »
I have found myself using a modified short (or quick) poolish for most of my pizzas lately.  My modified poolish consists of a sweetner, 50% of the formula's flour, water, ADY, and salt (if it's sea salt).  With enough ADY I keep the poolish for less than three hours, and sometimes less than two hours.  The attached images are of a batch using a 100-minute-old poolish.  It turns out to be a good compromise when flavor is important, but time is equally important.

Higher Resolution
http://www.unclesalmon.com/lib/images/products/poolishness/HD_spinach-mushroom_w.png
http://www.unclesalmon.com/lib/images/products/poolishness/HD_spinach-mushroom_r.png
http://www.unclesalmon.com/lib/images/products/poolishness/HD_pepperoni_q.png

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2008, 08:16:47 PM »
November,

Those are nice looking pizzas. I think that preferments are underutilized in the pizza world. They do a nice job of adding flavor to the crust in a fairly short period of time.

I noticed that you used sea salt in your preferment. Was that for nutrients for the yeast? Usually salt is left out of preferments unless the preferment starts to break down and become too liquid, due to excessive amylase activity. Then, a small amount of salt might be added to the preferment.

Peter


Offline November

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2008, 08:29:23 PM »
Peter,

Thank you.  There are two reasons I dissolve the sea salt in with the water along with the sugar and ADY.  The one you mentioned: nutrients.  The second is to ensure the salt dissolves completely.  Sometimes the sea salt I get has rather large crystals and does not dissolve as easily as kosher salt.  There isn't a remarkable advantage to dissolving kosher salt in with the water (in terms of nutrients or dissolution rate), so I usually add it to the poolish just before adding the oil and the remaining flour.

- red.november

EDIT: I should also mention that every sweetener I add to dough provides some level of nutrition for the yeast beyond just carbohydrates.  The sweetener used in these pizzas was turbinado sugar.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 08:34:30 PM by November »

Offline creampuff

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Re: A Poolish ?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2008, 11:05:13 PM »
Peter,

Thank you.  There are two reasons I dissolve the sea salt in with the water along with the sugar and ADY.  The one you mentioned: nutrients.  The second is to ensure the salt dissolves completely.  Sometimes the sea salt I get has rather large crystals and does not dissolve as easily as kosher salt.  There isn't a remarkable advantage to dissolving kosher salt in with the water (in terms of nutrients or dissolution rate), so I usually add it to the poolish just before adding the oil and the remaining flour.

- red.november

EDIT: I should also mention that every sweetener I add to dough provides some level of nutrition for the yeast beyond just carbohydrates.  The sweetener used in these pizzas was turbinado sugar.


Gorgous!


 

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