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For more flavoursome breads, bakers often use lightly fermented dough in their breads. These doughs are known as starters. The most well known form of starters are sourdough starters, or leavens. This type of starter is made by fermenting flour and water and using yeast that is naturally present in the air and can take a few days to come to its proper balance of flavours. But there are alternatives that take less time.

A poolish is a type of starter used in baking that helps bring greater complexity of flavour to breads. It is not as complex as perhaps a leaven or sourdough starter, but aids in the making of better tasting breads. It is generally made of equal parts water and flour, with a small amount of yeast added to the mix.

Recipe courtesy of Simon Thibault (adapted from Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid)


  • 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) flour
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) yeast


  1. Stir the yeast into the water to allow it to dissolve. Add the flour and stir until you have a smooth batter. Cover and let ferment from 8 to 24 hours.
  2. When adding the poolish to your bread dough recipe, simply tear it into pieces and add the dough to the water that you plan on using for your recipe. This will help soften the dough to make it easier to incorporate it into the final dough.
This recipe was featured in the article Making bread.
East Coast Living