Whole Wheat Lean Dough with Poolish, part 2

Whole wheat poolish loaf


Lean Dough, Poolish Method from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Making course on Craftsy.com

Process notes

Baker's percentages (includes poolish):

  • Flour: 100% (412 gm)
  • Water: 80% (330 gm)
  • Salt: 2% (1 1/8 tsp)
  • Yeast: 1.3% (pinch + 3/8 tsp)

Day 1

10:15 a.m.: Mix poolish. 206 gm freshly-milled hard white wheat flour (unsifted), pinch (using the "pinch" measuring spoon) of instant yeast, 236 gm filtered water (80°). Originally I was going to use 206 gm water but the poolish was too stiff, so I upped it to 236. Reduce the amount of water in the final dough to accommodate this increase.

Just-mixed poolish
Just-mixed poolish

10:30 a.m.: Cover and set at room temp (78°) for 4 hours.

Poolish after 4 hours on counter
Poolish after 4 hours on counter

2:30 p.m.: Refrigerate poolish.

Day 3

8:30 a.m.: Remove poolish from refrigerator.

Final poolish
Final poolish, just removed from refrigerator

9:20 a.m.: Grind 206 gm hard white wheat flour, sift out 6 gm bran and store. Mix flour (80°), 3/8 tsp instant yeast, 1 1/8 tsp salt, 94 gm water (91°), poolish (65°) with paddle on low for 1 min. 30 sec. Rest 5 min. Mix low 30 sec. Seems like it needs more water, but I'm sticking to the 80% hydration plan.

9:48 a.m.: Begin 4 stretch & folds, with 5 minutes between each. During this process it appears there was indeed enough water already in the mix, and it didn't need more.

10:10 a.m.: Bulk fermentation. (2 hours)

12:10 p.m.: Shape dough using instructions in video. Place in cloth-lined small bowl that's been dusted with flour. Cover for final proofing, about 60 minutes.

12:40 p.m.: Preheat oven to 500° with baking stone in place.

1:15 p.m.: Turn dough onto floured peel, score once, and spritz with water. Slide into oven and cover with large stainless steel bowl. Bake 15 min.

1:30 p.m.: Remove bowl from oven. Bake additional 24 minutes.


This loaf was going really well until I shook it off the peel onto the baking stone. There was a lot of disruption to the height at that point and the loaf lost a lot of its volume. The final loaf was fairly low, and had a rather tight crumb. I also baked it a bit too long on the high heat (forgot to turn it down to 475° after 14 minutes like I had intended) and the crust is over-browned. Because it's whole wheat and a lean dough, it tasted a bit too burned rather than nutty and complex. And I didn't really notice any flavor benefits from the poolish, which is possibly because it was overbaked.

After this loaf, I'm revisiting my bread goals: I placed myself on a quest to bake a lean, artisan/hearth style boule of 100% whole wheat flour that has an open crumb. But most of what I do with the boules is make sandwiches or toast. A slice of bread with a really open crumb wouldn't work all that well for these purposes. I have my go-to whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe…so now I'm thinking I can explore artisan style whole wheat bread without worrying about an open crumb, and a rustic (ciabatta) style whole wheat bread that isn't a boule shape. I was really happy with the focaccia I made from Reinhart's Rustic Bread, Pain a l'Ancienne Method so I'd like to explore that more. The long chilled fermentation of the entire batch of dough appears to have improved its taste and texture. I'm also reading Crust and Crumb and the multigrain formulas with variations caught my eye.

Part of me is still very determined to make this work, just to achieve the feat. If that part wins out, I may make a loaf using store-bought bread flour to see if I can get an open crumb that way as a sort of control.

Adjustments to consider next time:
  • use parchment on peel instead of flour
  • reduce hydration from 80% to 70-75%
  • add 1 tsp of vital wheat gluten for each 127 grams of flour