Mar 12, 2014

White Bread with Poolish

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

The crust of this White Bread with Poolish crackles for days after the bread emerges from the oven. This usually happens when the crust is thin and crispy. I feel compelled to listen to it until it quiets down.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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. 

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 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."

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape them into loaves. In this case, I used a round and an oval banneton for proofing each loaf.

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.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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 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.

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 flour 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. 
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  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 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!


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