I enjoy using biga, poolish, and pate fermentee whenever possible. These easy methods give bread a great flavor without having to use up fridge space with a long overnight/two day proofing. You can do a long proof or ferment and get even better results, but most people won’t notice much of a difference. Below is a poolish bread recipe that I have made a few times with great results. I have used this recipe for baguettes and boules. Both turned out great. For a different boule texture substitute 40% of the flour with Semolina.
Start with a poolish. (Poolish is a very wet pre-ferment)
0.5-1% yeast (the amount of yeast you use will depend on how much time you ferment)
I generally allow a poolish to ferment on the counter for 4-8 hours. It works to put your poolish in the fridge over night so that you can use it the following day. Retarding in the fridge allows you to relax and not worry that your yeast is eating too quickly.
Total dough percentages
This dough recipe will produce a dough with a hydration level of 66-68%
For a 900 gram dough:
508 g Flour
274 g Water
102 g Poolish
5 g Yeast
10 g Salt
Exactly 102 grams of poolish, I would suggest making more because you always lose some when transferring:
36 g Flour
66 g Water
0.5 g Yeast
Mix all of your ingredients and allow for autolyse. This will make sure that your flour is fully hydrated and you won’t ruin too much of the work that your poolish has already done.
In a stand mixer mix for 3-5 minutes. Your dough should be around 80 degrees and it should pass the windowpane test.
Place dough in a lightly oiled container and allow to double in volume. This should take an hour or so. At this point you have a choice. You can either shape into a boule and allow to proof for an hour and then bake or you can do a second ferment and allow your dough to retard in the refridgerator overnight. Allowing bread a second ferment will produce rich buttery flavors. However, skipping a second ferment will still produce a great bread.
After your bread has been shaped into a boule allow it to proof for an hour or until a thumbprint on the side won’t bounce back. Cut the top of your bread, traditionally in an X shape.
Allow an hour for your oven to heat to 475.
Put your boule into the oven, directly onto a baking stone if you have one, and steam for 2 minutes at 475. (You can create steam by heating an iron skillet in your oven and then throwing ice onto it right before you are going to shut the door. You can also mist water onto the walls of your oven. Be careful not to get cold water on your hot baking stone. I use both methods.) Spray water onto your boule and walls and bake for 2 more minutes. Steam one last time and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. After 30 minutes check the internal temperature of your bread. It should read 190-205 degrees. (The thump test works but it isn’t that accurate.)
Yield 1 large boule or 2 smaller boules/3 medium batards