Recipe courtesy of Amy's Bread

Poolish Starter

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 9 hr 10 min (includes rising and sitting time)
  • Active: 10 min
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups
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1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/4 cup very warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons very cool water (70 to 72 degrees F)

1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour


Special equipment:
Special Equipment: One 2-quart clear plastic or glass container with high sides
  1. Combine the yeast and very warm water in a 2-quart plastic or glass container and whisk together until the yeast has dissolved. Allow the mixture to stand for 3 minutes. Add the flour and cool water and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or your hand for 1 minute, until a smooth, somewhat elastic batter has formed. The starter will be thick and stretchy. It gets softer and thinner after it has risen.
  2. Scrape down the starter from the sides of the container and cover the container with plastic wrap. Mark the height of the starter and the time on a piece of tape on the side of the container so you can see how much it rises. Make sure it has room to triple in volume. Let the starter rise at room temperature (75 to 78 degrees F) for 6 to 8 hours. Or let it rise for 1 hour at room temperature, then chill it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. 
  3. Remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours to warm up and become active before use. When it is ready, it will have tripled in volume, and lots of bubbles and small folds will appear on the surface. The starter should be used in the next 2 to 4 hours, before it begins to deflate. If you use the starter while it's still cold from the refrigerator, be sure to compensate for the temperature by using warm water (85 to 90 degrees F) in your dough instead of the cool water specified in the recipe.

Cook’s Note

Take the temperature of your water with an instant-read thermometer before adding it to the yeast. If the water is too hot it will damage the yeast, and if it is too cool, the yeast will take much longer to activate and will rise very slowly, if at all.