Beginner's Guide to Poolish
What is Poolish?
Ever fancy a go at making Poolish? It appears to be gaining popularity among those of us who like a bit more flavour and texture in our crusts. But what exactly is it?
Poolish is a preferment that originated in Poland. It is made by combining equal parts of flour and water with a small amount of yeast and allowing this to ferment for a period of time. The resulting Poolish is then incorporated into a final dough, adding flavour, complexity and a lighter texture.
So, in simple terms, Poolish is like a dough party starter. It gets the yeast, gluten, and enzymes mingling, resulting in a dough that's tastier, fluffier, and just plain awesome. It's the secret ingredient that takes your pizza from ‘good’ to ‘amazing’.
The Science Behind Poolish
So, you've got your flour, water, and a pinch of yeast in your Poolish. Then it is the yeast's time to shine.
The yeast munches on the sugars in the flour and throws a lively shindig. As it feasts, tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas are released. It's these bubbles that make your dough rise, all fluffy and full of air.
While the yeast is having a sugar feast, it's also whipping up a flavourful storm. You see, yeast is a bit of a chef itself!
It creates all sorts of delicious compounds, like ethanol and organic acids, which give your dough that amazing taste.
Gluten, stretchy proteins formed when water is added to flour, also get in on the action. They start forming a stretchy network, even before you mix up the final dough.
This gluten development gives your dough elasticity and helps it hold its shape.
Flour has some enzymes of its own, and these become super active during this fermentation fiesta. The enzymes break down starches into simpler sugars, which are like snacks for the yeast. Yum!
Poolish has a bit more water than your final dough. This extra hydration makes your dough more relaxed and easier to handle.