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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foolish Poolish

Well, as many know, I have not been cooking much due to some physical ailments, but, I have a big event coming up this weekend and I really wanted to contribute, even though my friends have told me not to cook.  I decided, since there will be a new wood fired pizza oven there, I have to cook something in it.

I prefer making bread and pizza dough with what is called a preferment (say it French style please) which can be anything from the commonly known sourdough starter to the less commonly known poolish or biga.  I have, for some years now, used a combination of the poolish, a watery flour/yeast mixture with the process of fermenting the poolish for 5 days.  While this is normally not a recommended practice, as many bakers find the yeast can die during the ferment, I really like the mild sour/yeasty flavor it lends to breads and pizzas. I find that a cold ferment also yields a superior lift and texture. Now to the foolish part.

Said poolish was started 3 days ago, it has been working along fine with a daily feeding of two teaspoons of AP flour and a little water. In and out of fridge for a couple hours per day or so. It has a nice aroma going.  I needed to feed it today and as I took it out of the fridge, I immediately noticed the lid resembled nothing more than the lid on a beer bottle just before it explodes.  I make beer, I know about fermentation.  I am a fermentation pro!  I did wrap a towel around the jar, it was incredibly hard to get the lid off, I actually had to use the jar opener.  And when the gas started escaping slowly, I put it down and walked away for 5 minutes.  Psssssssss...all is well, hissing stopped...I am good!  Go back and open lid with impunity. Am greeted with FOOOOOMPH!

And let me say, as I sit here in clean pants and shirt, with a nice clean counter and spice jar collection, the amount of poolish, although appearing to be the entire jar, was the smaller amount of poolish. There was much more on me, the counter, the floor, the cabinets and all of the fruit I just bought. Suddenly I feel a 2 gallon fermenting bucket and an airlock coming in the future.


  1. Just forwarded this to my wife, the baker. She will love this. Especially since it's a technique she hasn't tried. (The fermenting, not the explosion.)

  2. I love it. That reminds me of an I Love Lucy episode. Did you salvage any and make your bread/pizza?

  3. Yes, there was both pizza and fry bread made from said poolish.

  4. I forgot about this, Bob. Hilarious.