Whole wheat lean dough with poolish

Whole Wheat Lean Dough with Poolish, part 1

I just finished reading Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish, and one of the tips I picked up was keeping a more detailed record of the process to keep track of what’s working and what’s not. This is my first post with a more refined method of process notes.


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

Process notes

Made one ~2-lb loaf

Baker’s percentages (includes poolish):

  • Flour: 100% (551 gm)
  • Water: 87.8% (484 gm)
  • Salt: 2% (1 1/2 tsp)
  • Yeast: 1.3% (5/8 tsp)

6:00 p.m.: Mix poolish. 170 gm unsifted hard white wheat flour, 1/8 tsp instant yeast, 375 gm tap water (which was 220% hydration vs. the 100% the recipe called for).

10:15 p.m.: Refrigerate poolish.

8:30 a.m.: Final dough. 397 gm hard white wheat flour (sifted, with final flour measurement at 381 gm + 16 gm bran set to side), 109 gm tap water (95°), 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp instant yeast. Stirred together dry ingredients, then added poolish and water. Mix on low speed with paddle for 1 minute. Rest 5 minutes. Mix on low 30 seconds. Turn onto oiled surface and perform 4 stretch and folds.

9:20 a.m.: Stretch and folds completed. Place dough in large bowl, cover with plastic, and set aside for bulk fermentation.

10:55 a.m.: checked dough, but not yet doubled.

11:45 a.m.: Prepared medium orange bowl with two layers of flour sack towels, dusted with sifted bran. Sprinkled bran on bench for rolling dough in during shaping.

12:15 p.m.: Preheat oven to 500°, convection setting. Baking stone is on bottom rack.

12:45 p.m.: Shape dough into boule and roll in bran. Place on parchment-lined peel. Slide onto baking stone and cover with large stainless steel bowl. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 450° (convection) and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove bowl and parchment. Bake 15 minutes, then temperature check. 165°. Bake additional 8 minutes, temperature at 198°.

Cooled on wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.


There was too much water in the poolish. In order to get it crepe-batter consistency, I increased the water by 205 gm but that was too far. The poolish didn’t bubble and activate like it should have, and was sitting under a layer of water after refrigeration.

About half of the bran fell off during the proofing, baking, and cutting process.

Sliced whole wheat lean dough with poolish

The loaf deflated quite a bit after going from the final proofing in the basket to the peel. I think that the high hydration played a big part in this. There aren’t the large irregular holes (which I have yet to see in my whole wheat loaves) but there are some small holes around the edges.

The texture is very moist and dense. The flavor is great — more complex than without the poolish, and the darker edges have a lot of toasty, nutty flavor.

Next time, I’ll try the following adjustments:

  • mix a poolish with 150% hydration (170 gm flour + 255 gm water), and make total hydration of mixed dough 80%
  • include an autolyse step by mixing the 380 gm flour (bran sifted out) and 185 gm water for the final dough, then letting it sit for 30 minutes before incorporating the rest of the ingredients
  • use a smaller bowl for final proofing so the dough doesn’t have to drop so far onto the peel when ready to bake
  • bake longer to try for deeper color on outside


On Day 6, the small pieces of bread that remained were tough and starting to lightly mold. Next time I’ll cut the recipe down 25%.