Using a poolish pizza dough recipe has many benefits, including improved taste and texture of the finished crust, although how and when to use it can be confusing at first.
Let Us get into poolish and how you can use it to make your next pizza.
What is Poolish?
Poolish is a pre-fermented dough starter used in “indirect” baking instead of dry or fresh yeast. A poolish is typically made by combining a small amount of yeast in a mixture of flour and water at a 100% hydration level. So, for example, a half teaspoon of dry yeast mixed with 150 grams of water and 150 grams of flour can be cold fermented for 24 hours to create a poolish. That poolish is then combined with the rest of the flour, water, olive oil, and salt to make a pizza dough you can use.
Reasons For Using Poolish
Poolish has several advantages, namely an improved texture and flavor of the finished baked product or, in the case of pizza, the crust. It also allows you to make a fully fermented pizza dough within a few hours instead of the routine 24 hours.
How Does Poolish Tastes?
The flavor of poolish pizza crust is more “mature” than others because of their preparation. A substantial amount of yeast is fermented at room temperature over a short period in these other methods.
Poolish also has improved the texture and gluten structure of the dough. When dough ferments, the yeast breaks down its gluten structure little by little compared to a freshly made dough that typically has the strongest gluten.
Does Poolish Saves Time?
On average, a high-quality urban-style pizza dough takes 24 hours to be baked into a pizza. This gives it enough time to ferment and develop a rich flavor without using yeast. This is too much time spent on preparation. You require a few hours to make pizza if you have a poolish starter added to the rest of the ingredients.
Poolish Vs. Direct Method
Poolish is a perfect example of an indirect baking method because it involves pre-fermenting a starter dough that will be used later by incorporating the other ingredients.
On the other hand, direct baking refers to the traditional way of mixing all ingredients simultaneously. Typically, a dough made with the direct method is kneaded and baked on the same day, sometimes within only a few hours or less. Dough prepared through the natural process, while convenient from a time perspective, is less flavorful than dough made through the natural process.
It is possible, however, to ferment a dough made using the direct method to achieve some of the benefits of pre-fermenting with something like a poolish.
Poolish Vs. Biga
Poolish and biga are the main kinds of pre-ferments that are typically used in Italian pizza. The distinguishing difference between poolish and biga lies in the hydration level. Poolish is a very wet pre-ferment, while biga is drier and stiffer.
The choice between the two is a matter of preference because poolish has a much higher hydration level (100%), and the final pizza dough will have a soft and puffy texture. Biga, on the other hand, has a much lower hydration level (~50%), making the final pizza dough extra puffy but not quite as soft and moist.
Poolish Vs. Fermented Dough
The difference between poolish and the fermented dough is that one is made using a direct method of baking and the other with an indirect way of baking. The fermented dough starts with flour, water, yeast, and salt. It can be kneaded for at least 15 minutes.
The key to fermentation is leaving the dough to sit for 16-24 hours so the yeast has time to mature and the flavor is enhanced. This is what is accomplished with a poolish, only instead of fermenting the entire dough, just a small portion of it is fermented, on occasion as little as 20% of the dough’s total volume.
The advantage of fermented dough is the simplicity as you mix the ingredients and leave it to rest at room temperature or in the fridge. The benefit of using poolish is that not only does the dough still make the most of the mature taste of the pre-ferment, but it also has the strength and simplicity of a dough that can be prepared and used on the same day.
Poolish Vs. Sourdough Starter
Poolish and sourdough are different kinds of pre-ferments used in indirect baking methods. Poolish is made by mixing flour, water, and common baker’s yeast, while a sourdough starter is made from wild yeast harvested from the flour responsible for the dough’s sour taste.
Sourdough starters can be kept well and used from time to time; as a matter of fact, some starters have even been in use for generations. On the other hand, poolish dough is short-lived and only used over 2-3 days.
The most impressive thing about using poolish dough is that it is quite easy to formulate the recipe without complex mathematics, as poolish is simply a 1:1 ratio of water to the floor, or a 100% hydration level, combined with about 0.25% yeast.
For example, to make 800 grams of poolish, you would mix 400 grams of flour, 400 grams of water, and 1gram of active dry yeast. A small amount of honey or sugar can also be added to the poolish, but this is optional.
The poolish then needs to ferment at room temperature for about 1-2 hours and then stored in the refrigerator for another 18-24 hours of cold fermentation.
When the poolish is ready, it needs to be added to the rest of the ingredients of a freshly made dough. In the case of pizza dough, that means flour, water, salt, honey, and olive oil(optionally).
For instance, make a dough with 1kg of flour and 700ml of water (or 7ou want this dough to contain 25% poolish, which equals 250g of poolish to be added (based on 1000g or 1kg of flour). 250 grams of poolish contains 125 grams of water and 125 grams of flour, so grams of flour (1000 grams minus 125 grams)
- 3% salt, honey, oil
- 575 grams of water (700 grams minus 125 grams)
How To Make Pizza Dough With Poolish (Recipe)
- 75 g Flour (00 or All-Purpose)
- 75 g Room temperature water (tap is fine)
- ¼ tsp Honey (or about 2 grams)
- ⅛ tsp Active dry yeast (or about .25 grams
- Water (127 ml )
- 213 g Flour (00 or All-Purpose)
- ½ tsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or about 13 grams)
- 9 g Salt
- Pour 75 ml of room temperature water into a mixing bowl.
- Add the yeast and honey to the water and mix well.
- Add flour to the water and incorporate it until you’re left with an extremely wet dough about the consistency of thick pancake batter.
- Transfer the poolish mixture to a resealable container or a bowl tightly covered in plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour until you see some yeast activity, such as slightly rising or small bubbles.
- Ferment the poolish overnight to encourage gluten formation.
Poolish Pizza Dough Recipe.
- Pour 127ml of warm water (or .65 cups) into the mixing bowl.
- Transfer the poolish (150 grams) into a large mixing bowl with the water and mix them loosely.
- Measure out approximately 213 grams of flour (or about 1 cup) and mix it with 9 grams (1.5 teaspoons) of salt. Add about half of this flour/salt mixture to the water/poolish mixture and use a stiff rubber spatula to mix well.
- Next, add one tablespoon (or around 13 grams) of extra virgin olive oil and mix well.
- Add the rest of the flour.
- Mix it until all of the dry ingredients have been hydrated by the wet ingredients. Cover the bowl tightly
Let Mixture Rest for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, stir the dough mixture quickly with the spatula. At this point, the consistency of the dough is much smoother and less sticky than before; this means the gluten is starting to form. It works best to fold the dough several times and then create it into the rough shape of a ball.
- At this point, you have a choice. You can either knead the dough for about 15-20 minutes until the gluten fully forms. Or leave it to rest overnight in the fridge. Both methods will encourage gluten formation, which makes for a good crust. The overnight no-knead process is best for simplicity. and the double fermentation effect. Should you need the dough the same day. You’ll have to knead it by hand until it is elastic and smooth. Note that when kneading, coat your hands with a small amount of olive oil. Lift the dough and slap it back down onto the counter while folding it over onto itself.
- When the dough is kneaded, divide it in half and form each half into a smooth and tight ball. Place the balls onto a lightly oiled pan and cover it gently with plastic wrap so it can expand. Let the balls be proof for 1-2 hours at room temperature before shaping them into a pizza.
Double Fermented Poolish
To prepare a double fermented poolish double, leave the finished dough ball in the refrigerator for 16-18 hours. This advantage is a soft and extra fluffy crust requiring much less kneading.
In a nutshell, Poolish pizza dough provides improved flavor and texture of the crust, unlike the
competition. There are numerous advantages why one would for poolish pizza dough which
includes less time needed to prepare the dough and the fact that its recipe can easily be