Jan 27, 2019

White Bread with Poolish

This White Bread with Poolish is one of my favorite artisan loaves to make. I love the open crumb and crunchy crust, and the method for making this bread is pretty foolproof. 

White bread with poolish

The crust of this White Bread with Poolish crackles for a long time after the bread emerges from the oven. I feel compelled to listen to it until it quiets down.

How do you make white bread with poolish? 

The technique for making this bread involves mixing a poolish, a 50-50 mix of flour and water and a little bit of yeast and letting it bubble up and ferment overnight. The long ferment of the poolish, which is half of the dough, really develops a wonderful flavor.

Crumb shot of White bread with poolish

The next morning you mix up the dough in a big 12 quart bucket. The dough is mixed completely by hand. No mixer required.

After the first mix, the dough looks pretty lumpy and "shaggy."

Shaggy dough

After two "stretch and folds" (lifting the dough up from the bottom and stretching it out and folding it over itself from each "side") every 30 minutes, the dough begins to develop gluten.

dough after one stretch and fold

This is what the dough looks like prior to the third "stretch and fold."

dough after two stretches and folds

After the final "stretch and fold...."

dough after three stretches and folds

you let the dough rise until it has more than doubled in size.

Risen dough for white bread with poolish

And then you dump the big bubbling blob of dough out on the counter and form your loaves.

Risen dough for white bread with poolish before shaping

Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape them into loaves.

The dough is proofed seam side down so that the dough does not need to be scored prior to baking. Sometimes this works out beautifully, with the dough opening up in the middle as it did with this bread. Sometimes, the bread splits open randomly.

Sometimes I'll add some quick slashes on top to make sure that the bread opens up where it's supposed to.

White bread with poolish slices

January 2019: I've just updated this post. I added some new photos and created a printable recipe card.

Forkish White bread with poolish slices

The photo below (as well as the process photos) is from the original post. I love the chance to remake a favorite recipe.

Note: When I remade this bread, I proofed it seam side down, per the original instructions, but I also added some random slashes to make sure that the loaf would expand in the oven.

Forkish White bread with poolish

This bread is fabulous, and did not last long in this house. I baked one loaf in a round shape, and the other loaf in an oval. This dough is also good for focaccia, pizza, or baguettes.

For more details about the methods used in this dough (especially shaping and folding), check out the posts for 40% whole wheat boules, overnight white bread, Saturday white bread, and pure levain country bread.

bread, Forkish, poolish
Yield: 2 (1 1/2 pound) loaves

White Bread with Poolish


  • 500 g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 500 g lukewarm (80 degrees F) water
  • .4 g (less than 1/8 tsp) instant yeast
Final Dough
  • 500 g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 21 g salt
  • 3 g (3/4) tsp instant yeast
  • 250 g 105 degree F water
  • All of the poolish


  1. The night before you bake the loaves, mix the poolish in a large bowl by hand or with a dough whisk. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours. If your kitchen is really cold, let it sit a bit longer, until tripled in size.
  2. Once the poolish is ready, in a large tub (I use this one), add the flour, salt, and yeast and whisk together.
  3. Add the water to the poolish to loosen it from the sides of the bowl and scrape it into the flour mixture.
  4. Keeping a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands, mix the ingredients with your hands by folding and pinching alternately for about 3 minutes, until the ingredients are integrated and there is no apparent dry flour. The dough will be very shaggy.
  5. Cover the container and allow the dough to rise for about 2 to 3 hours, until it has increased in size by about 2 1/2 times, stretching and folding every 30 minutes three times during the first 90 minutes.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half with a bench knife or dough scraper. Shape each half into boules and place them seam side down into floured bannetons or floured towel lined bowl. In this case, I used one oblong banneton and one round banneton. Cover with oiled plastic wrap.
  7. Place two Dutch ovens in the oven, and preheat it to 475 degrees F.
  8. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour.
  9. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces.
  10. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf.
  11. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is golden brown.
  12. Lift the loaves out of the Dutch ovens with the parchment and let them cool fully on a wire rack (remove the parchment from the bottom of the loaves).
  13. Place your ear next to the loaves and listen to them crackle as they cool. Smile.
Created using The Recipes Generator
This is yet another bread from the amazing bread book, Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.This is not a sourdough bread, so it is perfect for those who want to try making a bread with his method without having to develop and maintain a starter.

 I just noticed that, since I bought this book, it has won two awards: Winner, IACP Awards 2013- Baking: Savory or Sweet, and Winner, James Beard Foundation Award 2013 -Baking and Desserts. My copy is getting well worn. I seriously love this book.


  1. I want to do this!!! Thanks for posting it, Karen!!!

  2. Gorgeous! My starter is in the freezer, so I might just make this bread this weekend, since the poolish doesn't require days of attention

    Absolutely wonderful crumb.... and crust!

  3. It's so wonderful when the crust crackles, isn't it? That is the best music!

    I LOVE the natural splits in the loaves.

  4. I've been making this bread every week for over a year now and love it. To make it even healthier, I add a tablespoon of flaxseed meal to the poolish. This also adds another level of visual interest to an already beautiful loaf.

  5. Hi Karen,
    I'll try this Amazing bread..just a question, in the poolish ingredients is it 4gr or 0.4?



  6. Hi Karen,
    I just completed mixing the dough and sat down to write u a query. This morning I mixed the poolish but added 4gm in place if .4 gms...hadnt realised until it had trippled and even then thought its the tropical weather...then it hit me like a flash ...the extra bit tht was added not realising the dot meant something. Once it trippled and fell back down...i kept it in fridge for a couple of hrs to retard the poolish. Now o thought wahat the heck and mixed the dough with the same poolish...so my question to you is what kind of a result can I expect and what am I to do..though its quite late?
    Thanks well in advance

    1. I think you will be fine, just be sure to watch the bread closely as the timing will be way different. You could also add more flour and water, and give it another rise, and make four loaves.

    2. Sorry to be writing late Karen....they were beautiful. The crumb was open...and held the butter beautifully while eating. Very enjoyable. Making another batch today ☺

  7. Wonderful recipe and bread!! Thank you for sharing!
    I have a question.
    I i were to use spelt flour either 50/50 with AP flour, or 100% spelt for the main dough, how would i alter the amount of yeast and water, or maybe both? I wonder if it's possible.
    Thanks in advance

    1. I would start with 30 percent spelt and up the water to 85 percent. If you want to do all spelt, than use about 10 percent whole grain spelt, and 90 percent white spelt. Using all milled whole spelt would change the nature of the bread completely, and the gluten is much more fragile. P.S. Thanks for the kind words!

  8. Hi Karen, I made the bread and even though it baked perfectly, it was a very wet dough. It barely held any shape in my proofing basket and some of it was stuck as well. Did you face the same issue?

    1. Hi Neha, yes, it's a very wet dough. If it's humid where you are, you can add a bit more flour, but it's better to develop the gluten through the stretch and folds, as well as drag the dough as you're shaping it across a floured counter to develop a "skin" which will help it hold its shape. I hope you try it again!! Also, try rice flour on a tea towel in the basket to help prevent sticking.

  9. Moved to NC in '12 from NJ. Serious shortage of decent bread. So I started a hobby. "Makurown". And I did. I bought "THE BREADMAKER'S APPRENTICE. Got comfort from Steve's no-knead techniques.
    Your formula works for me and is my current go-to.

    I reduced hydration to 70% and I throw in a T of malt. I will continue to play with this, but the basic formula thrills the friends and neighbors!!

    1. I love this! I'm excited to try the malt!

    2. This is George. This recipe is still my "go-to" bread formula with a couple of tweaks. I am now using two T of malt and still 200 ml of water in the final prep. I just made a batch and was delayed to get back to the poolish which I mixed up Thursday late afternoon. I mixed the dough late Friday afternoon through the three foldings and then crossed my fingers and put the covered dough into our auxiliary fridge to confront on Saturday. I pulled out the dough and let it come to room temp for about 3hours. It finished the rise in that time. I turned it out and cut it into 6 roughly equal portions that I formed into boules. I oiled each
      liberally with EVOO and proofed three each in 2.5 qt Pyrex bowls. I turned each loaf onto parchment and baked sequentially in a Lodge Dutch oven @ 450 deg for 20min closed and about 10 open to 205 deg finish. The loaves came out great and each was easily separable into three smaller loaves. Great for sharing with the neighbors!!


    3. It's George again. Still experimenting. The last batch started with the poolish as you defined. Next day, put the remaining ingredients together using 2T of malt, and only 100 g of water. Then followed the formula to the end, prior to the bake. I formed two loaves using the letter fold and simply set them on a parchment sheet for the final proofing. Baked at 450 F to the 205 internal temp in around 25-30 minutes. I use the bottom of the broiler pan that came with the oven for steam production, and also a commercial spray bottle to supplement the vapor atmosphere in the oven three spritzes about a minute apart in the beginning of the bake. The loaves came out great and the somewhat drier dough held shape fairly well.

    4. George, again. Wonderfully flexible recipe. This time set my eye on making rolls for a bratfest I was preparing for a family gathering. Did the basic poolish for about 20 hours. Then, 2T malt, 600(yes,600)g of flour, 1t instant yeast, 26g salt, 150g water AND 2T EVOO and one egg!
      Used the three folding technique, and former 18 roughly equal portions that I formed into oblong rolls perfect for the brats. Flour was about 50:50 bread and AP.

  10. This looks wonderful, such a lovely airy-looking bread and I can imagine an almost sourdough flavor with the overnight poolish. Must give it a try!

    1. It makes the best grilled cheese. The cheese seeps through the holes and gets a little browned!

  11. You are always teaching me something. I had never heard of a poolish, but I can see how it would add great texture and flavor to a loaf of bread.

  12. This would not last long here either! Your breads always have the most beautiful texture!

  13. This bread looks amazing, and I learned something new! I had never heard of poolish, but now that I do, I'm going to try this recipe.

  14. This bread sounds interesting! I assume poolish is kind of like sourdough? I'm going to give this a try!

    1. It's a quick preferment. You could use a sourdough starter instead because the hydration is the same.

  15. All those air bubbles have me drooling! Oh, how I adore bread!!!

  16. I wish I had more confidence baking bread. This looks so yummy! I think I need to make it a goal for myself!

    1. It used to intimidate me but now it's my absolute favorite pastime.

  17. Your bread (and photos) are just gorgeous!
    I could totally enjoy a loaf of this with some cheese and wine for dinner and be one happy girl!

  18. This is a wonderful recipe for a basic white bread. The method was great as well...no getting out the stand mixer or a bunch of other equipment.

    Thx...your recipes always work out.

  19. Your breads always look so beautiful! My family would love this.

  20. Hi, I tried to make this bread today. I love the no knead method. I had trouble once I took it out to shape as it stuck to the work surface like glue and I probably took some of the lovely bubbles out of it trying to get it off. It also burned on top. Do you have any advice regarding this?

    1. Hi Karolina, for the sticking, I would lightly flour your work surface. I will still stick some as it's a very wet dough, which is why I like to use a bench scraper when shaping the dough. For the burning, perhaps your oven runs hot. You can watch the bread closely and tent it with foil if it's getting too dark.

  21. Is it possible to make this in a loaf tin (or two)?

    1. I'm pretty sure you could. Check out the method in the No Knead Sourdough bread I published on June 18. I think if you follow the shaping method you'll be fine. Just make smaller loaves.

  22. Your bread looks fab. Does it have to be baked in a Dutch oven or could it be baked on a baking sheet in a more traditional way?

    1. You can set your oven up for steam and bake it on a stone or baking sheet. The Dutch oven is a simulated steam environment which helps with oven spring and crispy crust.


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