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I'm experimenting with a yeasted dinner roll recipe. I'd like to use a pre-ferment (poolish) to enhance the bread's flavor.

According to https://food52.com/blog/17140-preferments-and-how-to-adapt-any-bread-recipe-to-use-one, I should be using 20% - 30% of my flour's weight for the pre-ferment. So, let's say I pick 20% for starters. A poolish uses the same amount of water to the flour, so I'd use 20% water. Let's also say I want to do pre-ferment up to 16 hours in advance. According to https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/more-artisan-bread-baking-tips-poolish-biga/, I should be using .03% to .08% (of the 20% flour).

Once I make this poolish preferment, do I still need to use the original yeast called for by the recipe? Or does the pre-ferment eliminate the need for the yeast?

Also - if yeast flavor is what I am after, should I be using cake yeast instead of ADY?

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On the preferment: I have never seen the yeast in it included in the calculation. See it as "just another ingredient" and calculate the rest just as you would if it hadn't been there. For example, Reinhart's formula for poolish ciabatta is:

poolish: 169%, bread flour: 100%, salt: 3.3%, instant yeast: 1.3%, water: 33%.

It doesn't eliminate the need for yeast at all. But as you see from this recipe, you will mess up the hydration if you try to add poolish on top. You can try recalculating it based on what hydration you already have in the preferment, but you won't end up with the same texture as the same hydration without the poolish, because it behaves a bit differently. So it will be easier to not manipulate recipes, but to choose another recipe which includes a preferment from the beginning.

On the question of taste: if you want the yeasty aroma you smell in cake yeast, you shouldn't be using any preferments at all. This kind of aroma is what you get from an overactive yeast colony, and for that you have to use high amounts of yeast (about 8-10% cake yeast or 3-4% dry yeast) with a very quick and warm rise, ideally around 35 C. Proof for 1-2 hours only, but pay attention to not overproof. It doesn't matter if you start with cake or dry yeast here, it's about the conditions in which the yeast grows. The preferment does the opposite of that.

  • My recipe has enough water for me to use for the preferment. I was going to use that. – CookingNewbie Dec 30 '18 at 12:43
  • My recipe calls for 1.6% ADY and about 2 hours to let it 1st rise. Looks like I'll double it to get in the 3-4% range you suggest - but possibly still have the same time for the 1st rise? Also, how does doubling the ADY affect the time for the 2nd rise? – CookingNewbie Dec 30 '18 at 12:46
  • The time is affected, yes - look that it doesn't get more than 2.5 the original volume, or you risk overproofing. Might even skip a punchback and second rise. – rumtscho Dec 30 '18 at 16:10
  • Skip a second rise? So bake right after shaping? – CookingNewbie Dec 30 '18 at 23:28
  • Rise once, then shape, then rise again, then bake. Skip a punchdown and second rise before shaping. – rumtscho Dec 30 '18 at 23:50

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