Pizza Making Forum

Pizza Making => Starters/Sponges => Topic started by: nlavon on April 13, 2021, 07:39:43 PM

Title: Poolish Confusion
Post by: nlavon on April 13, 2021, 07:39:43 PM
I must confess I am a little confused about the poolish.

Not that the flour and water are of equal weights in the poolish with an amount of yeast determined by its fermentation schedule. But the percentage the poolish is...of what, exactly?

The Didier Rosada piece so often shown here says it is a percentage of the water by weight, say 20-40 percent. That would mean an equal amount of flour by weight. Okay, got that. But then in lots of other pieces about the poolish, it's defined as x percentage of the flour by weight, with an equal amount of water by weight.

The Pizza Dough Calculator, when a preferment is selected, comes up with a formula (for a 20 percent preferment) of ten percent of the flour weight plus 14.9 percent of the water weight.

So, it's a little confusing to me as to really how to calculate the poolish for a given formula.

Can someone help me in what I suppose is something I am completely overlooking and is obvious to everyone but me?

Title: Re: Poolish Confusion
Post by: Anton1 on April 15, 2021, 05:23:54 PM
As noted by Pete-zza in reply  #2,4996.msg42266.html#msg42266 (,4996.msg42266.html#msg42266), he lists those options.

For the 20% poolish that you mentioned, it's probably taken with reference to the total weight of flour (10% of total flour weight and an equal weight of water). In your example of 14.9% of the total water means that your hydration is around 67.11%. That 14.9% will no longer be valid once that the hydration changes as listed here:

Example (1): For total flour weight of 100 grams, take 10% or 10 grams for poolish. At 67.11% hydration total water is 67.11 grams, take 10 grams for
                   poolish. 10 grams is 14.9% of 67.11 grams.

Eample (2): Same total flour weight of 100 grams, take 10% or 10 grams for poolish. At 60%  hydration total water is 60 grams, take 10 grams for poolish. 10
                  grams is 16.67% of 60 grams.

Conclusion: If poolish % is taken as % of total flour weight don't bother getting involved in the mental gymnastics of what percent the water is of total water,
                  just use 1:1 flour:water mix.


Title: Re: Poolish Confusion
Post by: Yael on April 16, 2021, 01:48:30 AM
There has been a similar discussion about the biga recently, hasn't it?

"50% poolish" means you use 50% of the flour of your formula. Poolish is 100% hydration, so that means you add 50% hydratation from the total flour weight (as much as the flour), I do like this (example):

100% Flour
62% Hydration
(Yeast, salt etc.)

50% poolish:
Phase 1 (poolish)
50% Flour
50% water

Phase 2 (final dough)
50% flour
12% water

25% poolish:
Phase 1 (poolish)
25% Flour
25% water

Phase 2 (final dough)
75% flour
37% water

That's the simplest way of counting preferment amounts I found and I got used to it.
Title: Re: Poolish Confusion
Post by: Anton1 on April 16, 2021, 08:18:56 AM
Member nlavon questioned as to how The Pizza Dough Calculator determines poolish percent, which in his given example of 20% means that the total poolish weight (half flour plus half water) is 20% of total flour weight. For 100 grams total flour weight the total poolish weight is 20 grams, or, 10 grams flour plus 10 grams water.

The Pizza Dough Calculator would interpret your 50% poolish (phase 1) as 100% poolish because its total weight is 100% of the total flour weight.

That being said, this is not to infer that your method is wrong, but only that it's in conflict of how the Calculator is programmed.

Title: Re: Poolish Confusion
Post by: Yael on April 16, 2021, 09:16:38 PM

Thank you for pointing this out. Actually I count like that when using sourdough, but when using a preferment (poolish, biga), I prefer referring to the total flour (so as I wrote above, 50% poolish/biga would mean using 50% of the formula's flour).
Maybe it's easier to count like I do when using a biga as with biga 10 to 100% of the flour can be used in the preferment phase, but not with poolish (the particularity of the poolish being a 100% hydration, using all the flour of the formula would mean using as much water, but 100% HR dough are quite rare).
On the other hand, what is a 100% poolish as defined by the dough calculator? A poolish using all the water of the formula? But a 100% poolish will then be different if I make a 55% hydration dough or a 65% hydration dough...

At the end, as long as we detail our formula so we're clear with the numbers, it's not a big deal, I guess.
Title: Re: Poolish Confusion
Post by: Anton1 on April 17, 2021, 08:51:24 AM
As noted by Pete-zza in reply #13 ( the percent can be different depending on which criteria is used.

Using Total Flour Weight as the standard then the entire poolish weight (flour plus water) is compared to the Total Flour Weight.

If the entire poolish weight is equal to the Total Flour Weight, the pooish is said to be 100%, even though its flour weight is only 50% of the Total Flour Weight, the remaining 50% being water.

However, as you were very specific in your phase1 formula and opine, “… it’s not a big deal, I guess.”


Title: Re: Poolish Confusion
Post by: Anton1 on April 17, 2021, 01:58:19 PM
I note that this topic was questioned by you (
To answer your concern directly it’s simply a matter of, “what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”.

Unless the author of the formula indicates which option is used, or lists weights of ingredients for diagnosis, it can be difficult to know the answer.

For example, see member Yael’s reply #2. The poolish percent calculated relative to Total Flour Weight is contrary to The Pizza Dough Preferment Calculator’s program.  To avoid any confusion the precise values are shown to clarify his intent.

Conclusion: When in doubt ask the formula’s author.