Friday, April 3, 2009


The poolish magic.

There are essentially two rising typology for bread: direct and indirect.
In the direct rising the brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) and the rest of ingredients are put all together at the same time in the mold, after that the bread maker takes care of everything and after about 3 hours you get the bread done.
With indirect rising instead you need to prepare a so called pre-ferment obtained mixing water, flour and yeast, after that you leave the poolish to mature a bunch of hours.
After the maturation you can add the rest of the ingredients and only at that time you can start the bread machine program.
Although the direct method appears on paper the ideal in terms of process automatization, there are excellent reasons to choose an indirect rising methodology because the results that you can obtain (in organoleptic terms) of the final product are objectively far superior.
The so called poolish is an indirect rising method that allows to obtain an high quality of the final product paying the modest cost of a maturation waiting time of several hours of the pre-ferment. 
There are other very good indirect rising methods (biga, sourdough or natural yeast) but they have the not indifferent disadvantage to require a greater effort in term of active work to obtain the final product. 
Finally the poolish method allows to obtain the greater quality/price ratio and for this reason has been adopted in this blog.
The reasons of a greater quality of pre-fermented bread are tied to complex microbiological phenomena that happen during the poolish maturation. The quantity of yeast that is used with poolish if much lesser than the quantity needed in the direct rising because with poolish the yeast has only to accomplish the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae proliferation, a unicellular microorganism that reproduces himself with gemmation eating sugars and excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol as wastes.
The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast keeps trapped in the dough giving us a soft and well alveolated crumb in the end.
In other terms with the poolish not only we grow yeast in a colture with zero costs, but also we benefit of a series of chemical reactions of decomposition of the complex sugars contained in the flour. The end product will result more digestible and provided of flavors and scents that are peculiar of a superior quality bread.

Poolish preparation (8 hours).

Although the bread makers are generally thought to be used with direct rising, we will see how is possible to use it without contraindications with poolish indirect rising.
With the terms 'mature' poolish we intend that the poolish is in his max fermentative strength and it's ready to be mixed with the rest of ingredients.
Two variables influence sensibly the poolish maturation time: the temperature inside the mold and the amount of yeast that acts as trigger.
To prepare a poolish that matures in 8 hours at ambience temperature (23°C), put in the mold in order:

- 300g of  tepid tap water;
- 300g of Manitoba flour
- 0.5g of dried brewer's yeast;
To speed up the poolish execution put the mold directly on a electronic scales, insert water first, flour then spread the dried yeast (Figure 2 shows a dose of 0.5g of dried brewer's yeast, Figure 3 shows a dose of 1g, useful if you don't have a precision scales). 

Introduce the mold in the bread machine and mix for 5 minutes (in the SEVERIN you need only to start the default program) with the goal to obtain a homogeneous cream.
Switch off the bread maker and leave the poolish to mature inside the mold.
During maturation the poolish will grow in volume until twice the original level.
When the poolish reach the maximum level it's mature.
You can discover that there could be considerable differences respect the theoretical estimations, usually greater is the temperature and faster will be the maturation.
But don't worry to much about this, there are wide tolerances, poolish is not compromised if you leave it a couple of hours more than expected.
A poolish 8 hours long is convenient if you arrange it in the late evening to get the next day for lunchtime the bread just baked.
To get the bread for dinner you need to prepare a 5 hours poolish in the morning, doubling the yeast dose (1g).
In general a poolish maturated for a long time produces better organoleptic results respect a short time poolish. In any case never use less then 0.5g of dried yeast to avoid microbiological competition phenomena. 

The full procedure of poolish preparation described in details until now requires not more than 5 minutes of active work, essentially you need only to weigh water and flour and start/stop the program.

Figure 2
Exactly half a gram of dried brewer's yeast.

Figure 3
Exactly one gram of dried brewer's yeast.

The kneading and baking phases. 

As soon as the poolish is mature extract the mold from the bread machine and put it again on the scales to add the remaining ingredients:

- 200g of flour type 00;
- 1 teaspoon of salt (7g);
- 2 teaspoon of sugar (10g);
- 2 teaspoon of lard or extra virgin oil (12g);

It's not necessary to weigh with precision the amount of salt, sugar and lard: to speed up you can use a teaspoon as a doser without compromise the final result. Sugar (sucrose) is a direct nutrient of the yeast and helps the poolish rising. The lard donates softness to the crumb and conservability to the crust (alternatively a tablespoon of extra virgin oil produces excellent results).

Being the lard in solid form, you need to melt it in glass with a bit of warm water (we will see that thanks to the timer we can avoid this manual operation because during the poolish maturation the lard will melt by itself). 

At this point you have only to reinsert the mold in the bread machine and program it in this way:

- standard program 1 (total 3 hours: 25 minutes of kneading, 90 minutes of rising and 65 minutes of baking);
- weight 900g;
- dark crust;

Start the bread maker!

The indicated programming aims to obtain the max baking times, selecting the 900g weight we gain 5 minutes of baking more that will be precious to compensate the little loss of heat due to overturning technique that we will see later.
If you don't own the specific model SEVERIN BM3988 choose a program that has similar rising and baking times.


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