A Levain and a Poolish hung out together


I carried out this experiment with the full intention of predicting a failure with the poolish.  What I wasn’t prepared for was that the result wasn’t the complete failure I had anticipated, this led to further experiments with the poolish, very successful ones in fact.

It’s established a sourdough dough will give you plenty of time before it collapses.  I’ve mentioned before how I’ve left my sourdough doughs (white roller mill flour) for 10-12hrs once shaped, in cool room 10˚C, showing signs of bursting at the seems and still they performed well in the oven, producing an incredible light crumb for a sourdough.

I know a yeast dough has a far more limited life-span than a sourdough, I’ve over-proved enough by neglect.  It is also the case with yeast loaves using smaller amount of yeast will buy you some more time.  And if wanting even more delay with a yeast dough, make a stiff pre-ferment, or stiff biga or add tiny amount of salt to the poolish/sponge.  These are all choices of procrastination with a yeast dough.

I made a yeast dough as close to my sourdough as possible to prove how it wouldn’t survive the journey, unfair I know.

The previous night I made mild levain as per normal;

  • 30g starter
  • 100g flour
  • 100g water

For the poolish;

  • large pinch of dry yeast (just barely 1 gram)
  • 100g flour
  • 100g water
The next morning, the poolish on the left, and the sourdough levain on the right.
Mixed both doughs the same, a mixture of white roller mill and stoneground flour;
  • 500g flour
  • 320g water
  • 200g poolish or levain
  • 9g salt
Folded it twice over 1.5hrs, shaped it and let it prove for another 3 hrs or so.
It was clear the yeast dough was dying, it hadn’t increased in size once shaped, on probing it felt dense and the spring back was flat.

It became even more clear cutting the doughs, sourdough on the left reacted as you would expect opening up, where’s the yeast dough on the right lay there lifeless, unreactive.

No surprise the yeast loaf (right) came out flat…but…

…and here’s what I thought interesting, it still showed a little sign of rise in the oven…and this made me think…what if?

Below, sourdough.

Below sourdough left, yeast on the right.

Below sourdough.

Below, yeast.

Yes the crumb is mostly dead, the long proving time did exactly what I predicted of killing off the yeast but…

….there’s still signs of activity…

what ifI made the poolish again but only didn’t push it to its limits?

That’s what I did, in the next post.