Updated: Oct 9, 2021
What is poolish?
Poolish is a type of preferment that are typically used for French bread such as baguettes. A typical poolish preferments consist of equal parts of flour to liquid with 0.08% - 0.25% of yeast added and is much softer compared to other types of preferments like Biga.
The preparation of poolish is simply by adding the ingredients together and left to ferment at room temperature for over a period of 3 to 4 hours or up to 8 hours at room temperature until the yeast are highly activated and strong before adding into the final dough recipe. Because of its higher in liquid nature, poolish takes a much shorter time to be ready for use compared to a stiff Biga preferment which generally requires an overnight fermentation period before they can be added into the final dough. If you are after a more flavoursome loaf of bread and is short of time, polish is the best option to go for.
Poolish can be prepared a day ahead and let sit at room temperature for some yeast activity to happen and then placed in the fridge to retard for up to 3 days. If you are planning to leave for a longer fermentation time for the poolish, less yeast are recommended.
0.25% yeast to the amount of flour used in a preferment will take up to 8 hours for preparation in advance. The longer you allow the preferment to ferment, the more flavour it will produce and the longer you want the fermentation time, the lesser yeast you will use.
Why use preferments for bread?
There are a number of reasons why one simple extra step makes a huge difference. Bread that uses preferments have much more flavours than a common bread dough that is made from straight yeast. Poolish is also known to give bread dough the extensibility typically ideal for loafs that needs to be shaped long like baguettes without it shrinking too much.
What's more, bread made with preferments also last longer than straight yeast bread due to the acidity through longer fermentation time in the poolish.
Can you use soft cake flour or cake flour for bread?
The answer if definitely! This might come as a shock to those of you who has been brain imbedded that when making bread you must use bread flour. This is only the case if you want to make European bread that requires your bread structure to be strong to hold on to its shape during expansion in the oven. For softer roll, it is actually recommended that you use wheat flour that has a lesser protein content. This recipe uses cake flour with a relatively low protein content of 7 to 8%. Most cake flour are also commonly bleached and absorbs more water than most flour which enables the dough to retain more moisture and ultimately yield a softer roll. Most soft bread uses a combination of bread flour and plain or cake flour as you still need some gluten for structure. Be careful not to use too much cake flour though or you dough will be like a pancake when baked.
Equipment: 180mm x 180mm deep removable base square baking tin
Yield: 32 mini rolls for 2 tins ( 16 rolls per tin)
Duration : 4 hours
Note: Divide the recipe by half for one batch
266 g 35.8% Baker's Flour
266 g 35.8% Water -26 °C
0.7 g 0.26 % Instant Yeast - Percentage based on Poolish flour value
210 g 44% Whole Wheat Baker's Flour
266 g 56% Cake flour (7% Protein)
85 g 11.45% Unsalted butter, softened
85 g 11.45% Caster sugar
70 g 9.4 % Egg
7 g 0.9% Instant Dry yeast
7 g 0.9% Fine salt
105 g 14.15% Water - 26°C
Above All Poolish
Note: if you are unable to find cake flour, you can simply substitute with plain flour with around 8%- 9% protein content. If you are not using a removable base baking tin, generously spray your tin with some oil to prevent sticking during baking or alternatively line the tin with parchment paper.
50 g Whole Eggs
50 g Full Cream Milk
60 g Caster Sugar
60 g Boiling water
1. Prepare poolish by mixing all the ingredients with a bread whisk or alternatively place all the ingredients in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook and mix until just combined. At this point the poolish will look like a rough shaggy dough. Allow the poolish to ferment at room temperature for up to 5 hours or up to 8 hours but no more until it triple in volume and looks airy.
2. When the poolish is ready, place together with the rest of the final dough ingredients into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment.
Mix on low speed for 3 minutes until all the ingredients come together in to a rough dough. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for 8 to 10 minutes or until the dough starts to look smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3. Once the dough is ready, transfer the dough on to a work bench without any flour dusting, knead the dough lightly and form it in to a semi tight smooth ball. Lightly grease a bowl large enough for the dough to double in size, transfer the dough seam side down into the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to bulk ferment for 1 to 2 hours or when the dough have doubled its original volume.
4. Once the dough have bulk fermented, transfer the dough on to the work bench and lightly punch the dough down to release the additional gas. roll the dough in to a log and divide the dough in to 32 x 40 g individual portion. Roll each portion in to a smooth ball and place them 4 x 4 portions per baking tins. If you are using half the recipe, you only need 16 rolls.
5. Cover the baking tin with tea towel and leave to final proof at room temperature for approximately 1 to 2 hours or until the rolls increase double its size again.
Meanwhile, pre heat the oven to 170°C.
When the dough is ready, whisk together the ingredients for the egg wash, lightly brush the top of the rolls and bake in the pre heated oven for approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until the top turns in to a dark golden brown in colour.
6. Remove the rolls from the oven, immediately brush the top generously with the sugar syrup and very carefully remove the rolls from the cake tin and leave to fully cool onto a wire rack.