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How to Make a Poolish with Conventional Yeast

A poolish is what’s known as a pre-ferment, which is a fancy way of saying that it’s a small amount of water and flour combined with commercial yeast ahead of the main bake to create the leavener for  a recipe. The yeast ferments the flour and water to create something that’s similar to a sourdough starter, but is ready in hours, rather than weeks. It has a much milder flavor than sourdough, and delivers enhanced flavors and improved textures when used in dough.


What’s the difference between a sourdough starter and a poolish?

The main difference between a sourdough starter and a poolish is that a sourdough starter is made with wild yeast and contains lactic acid bacteria, whereas a poolish is made with commercial yeast. This means that the commercial yeast works a lot more quickly, making the poolish ready to use within hours, rather than weeks, like with a new sourdough starter. Both are considered pre-ferments, because both the wild and commercial yeast ferment the flour and water they are combined with.

What are the benefits of using a poolish?

Using a poolish is a great way to create depth of flavor and better texture in your bakes. It is much more mild than sourdough, and lacks the sourness, so it’s a great option for bakes where you want the benefits of some fermentation, but without the strong flavor profile.

A poolish is also much faster to prepare than a sourdough starter. While it takes weeks for a new sourdough starter to get established and be ready to leaven bread, a poolish can be made 12 to 24 hours in advance of baking, before it is ready to use. The dough made with a poolish also does not require as much rise time as sourdough does: while you can absolutely do a cold proof for a longer fermentation time, poolish dough generally only needs 2-3 hours of rise time, similar to other doughs made with commercial yeast.

How do I make a poolish?

Making a poolish is simple, and takes very little hands-on time. While some recipes may call for different amounts of flour and water, the ratio will always be 1 part water to 1 part flour. Here’s how to make a poolish at home:


  • 150g Bread Flour
  • 150ml Warm Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Dry Active Yeast


  1. The night before wanting to use your poolish, add the flour, water and yeast into your Starter Jar, and mix well. Once evenly combined, lightly place the lid on top allowing some air to get in. 
  2. Put your poolish in a warm place for 12 hours, or overnight.
  3. The next morning, your poolish should have at least doubled in size in appearance with lots of bubbles. This is now ready to use.


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