White Bread with Poolish | Karen’s Kitchen Stories

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This White Bread with Poolish is one of my favorite artisan loaves to make. I love the open crumb and crunchy crust, and the method for making this bread is pretty foolproof. 

White bread with poolish

The crust of this White Bread with Poolish crackles for a long time after the bread emerges from the oven. I feel compelled to listen to it until it quiets down.

The technique for making this bread involves mixing a poolish, a 50-50 mix of flour and water and a little bit of yeast and letting it bubble up and ferment overnight. The long ferment of the poolish, which is half of the dough, really develops a wonderful flavor.

Crumb shot of White bread with poolish

The next morning you mix up the dough in a big 12 quart bucket. The dough is mixed completely by hand. No mixer required.

After the first mix, the dough looks pretty lumpy and “shaggy.”

Shaggy dough

After two “stretch and folds” (lifting the dough up from the bottom and stretching it out and folding it over itself from each “side”) every 30 minutes, the dough begins to develop gluten.

dough after one stretch and fold

This is what the dough looks like prior to the third “stretch and fold.”

dough after two stretches and folds

After the final “stretch and fold….”

dough after three stretches and folds

you let the dough rise until it has more than doubled in size.

Risen dough for white bread with poolish

And then you dump the big bubbling blob of dough out on the counter and form your loaves.

Risen dough for white bread with poolish before shaping

Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape them into loaves.

The dough is proofed seam side down so that the dough does not need to be scored prior to baking. Sometimes this works out beautifully, with the dough opening up in the middle as it did with this bread. Sometimes, the bread splits open randomly.

Sometimes I’ll add some quick slashes on top to make sure that the bread opens up where it’s supposed to.

White bread with poolish slices

January 2019: I’ve just updated this post. I added some new photos and created a printable recipe card.

Forkish White bread with poolish slices

The photo below (as well as the process photos) is from the original post. I love the chance to remake a favorite recipe.

Note: When I remade this bread, I proofed it seam side down, per the original instructions, but I also added some random slashes to make sure that the loaf would expand in the oven.

Forkish White bread with poolish

This bread is fabulous, and did not last long in this house. I baked one loaf in a round shape, and the other loaf in an oval. This dough is also good for focaccia, pizza, or baguettes.

For more details about the methods used in this dough (especially shaping and folding), check out the posts for 40% whole wheat boules, overnight white bread, Saturday white bread, and pure levain country bread.

bread, Forkish, poolish



Yield: 2 (1 1/2 pound) loaves

White Bread with Poolish



  • 500 g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 500 g lukewarm (80 degrees F) water
  • .4 g (less than 1/8 tsp) instant yeast
Final Dough

  • 500 g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 21 g salt
  • 3 g (3/4) tsp instant yeast
  • 250 g 105 degree F water
  • All of the poolish


  1. The night before you bake the loaves, mix the poolish in a large bowl by hand or with a dough whisk. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours. If your kitchen is really cold, let it sit a bit longer, until tripled in size.
  2. Once the poolish is ready, in a large tub (I use this one), add the flour, salt, and yeast and whisk together.
  3. Add the water to the poolish to loosen it from the sides of the bowl and scrape it into the flour mixture.
  4. Keeping a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands, mix the ingredients with your hands by folding and pinching alternately for about 3 minutes, until the ingredients are integrated and there is no apparent dry flour. The dough will be very shaggy.
  5. Cover the container and allow the dough to rise for about 2 to 3 hours, until it has increased in size by about 2 1/2 times, stretching and folding every 30 minutes three times during the first 90 minutes.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half with a bench knife or dough scraper. Shape each half into boules and place them seam side down into floured bannetons or floured towel lined bowl. In this case, I used one oblong banneton and one round banneton. Cover with oiled plastic wrap.
  7. Place two Dutch ovens in the oven, and preheat it to 475 degrees F.
  8. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour.
  9. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces.
  10. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf.
  11. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is golden brown.
  12. Lift the loaves out of the Dutch ovens with the parchment and let them cool fully on a wire rack (remove the parchment from the bottom of the loaves).
  13. Place your ear next to the loaves and listen to them crackle as they cool. Smile.

Karen’s Kitchen Stories

This is yet another bread from the amazing bread book, Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.This is not a sourdough bread, so it is perfect for those who want to try making a bread with his method without having to develop and maintain a starter.

 I just noticed that, since I bought this book, it has won two awards: Winner, IACP Awards 2013- Baking: Savory or Sweet, and Winner, James Beard Foundation Award 2013 -Baking and Desserts. My copy is getting well worn. I seriously love this book.

HD Picture

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