Sunday, January 3, 2010

Don't Be So Poolish

Don't Be So Foolish...would be the nagging mantra playing in my mind. The reason - the Fear of Baking Bread.

Breadaphobia. How could it be? I'm a breadaholic for crying out loud! Give me a slab of hot bread, some butter (marmalade would be nice too, thank you ma'am) and a cuppa tea and I'll be your friend for life. I can subsist on bread alone if given the chance. So why won't I buckle down and make one? No Knead Bread came and went in an Internet uproar. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes was acquired, thumbed through and neatly stored away in my collection, yet I was scared to take the first step....

Well 2010 is here, and my new Years Resolution was to bake bread. By Jove!

When reading the novel Bread Alone, the December choice at This Book Makes Me Cook, I kept coming back to a recipe that the protagonist uses to bake a rustic French loaf as a peace offering for her friend. Talk about coming back. The book went into overdue status at the library and it was a mounting fine that whipped my sorry behind into embarking on this bread making exercise.

The recipe invoked the use of poolish which is a wet sponge starter for making rustic country breads e.g. Pain de Campagne.

But before we get to the nitty gritty...errrmmm....why is it called Poolish? Lore has it that this form of preferment or starter was brought to France, Austria and Beyond by Polish bakers. "Poolish" is an old English term used to refer to anything Polish..ta da. This same type of starter is also called biga by Italian bread makers.

Poolish for Pain De Campagne (from the novel Bread Alone with Recipes, by Judith Ryan)
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour.

1. Dissolve yeast in water, then stir in flour. Beat the batter for about a hundred srokes to develop the gluten.


2. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let it sit for 2 - 8 hours at room temperature. The longer the better. Or let poolish develop refrigerated for up to 12 - 15 hours. Allow refrigerated poolish to come back to room temperature before baking bread.

Now go and check out the step-by-step tutorial for the Pain de Campagne that I made using this poolish.
And just between the two of us, how many times did you giggle when reading the word poolish...?

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