Harvest Bread with Poolish

If you want to step up your bread baking game beyond the no knead variety, but don’t have the time or confidence to cultivate a sourdough starter quite yet you might consider trying baking a loaf with an overnight poolish.

A poolish is a mixture of flour and water and a small amount of yeast. You let the pre-ferment or poolish sit overnight and then add it to the rest of the ingredients in the morning.

This small, simple step can add big flavor to your bread. It only takes a few minutes the night prior and will definitely pay off with big flavor in the final loaf.

My favorite pre-ferment/poolish recipe is the Harvest Bread from Ken Forkish’s excellent Flour Water Salt Yeast. This is a great intermediate bread and pizza baking book. The recipes remain approachable and simple but each chapter adds some new wrinkle or complexity to the baking process. The techniques are well described and well documented with pictures. I’ve yet to try one that didn’t work out. Or, at least come close.

This overnight multigrain bread is delicious, easy to make, and versatile. It can handle a mix of whole grains or additional add-ins and the second dough ball works very well for a Friday focaccia. It’s great for breakfast toast, as lunch sandwich bread, or sopping up a hearty soup or stew dinner.

Things you’ll need:

  • A large food grade bucket with the measurements on the outside
  • A kitchen scale and an instant read thermometer. If you want to bake bread or really anything, you’ll need a scale.
  • A Dutch oven for baking the bread. An affordable 4 quart Lodge cast iron one (the size Forkish recommends for his recipes) has worked very well for me.
  • Proofing baskets or something similar. Again, these 9 inch brotforms have worked fine for me for a few years.
  • Parchment paper. Not essential but I find it makes it a lot easier to move the dough into the Dutch oven.