Poolish sponge is a type of French starter made from the same amount, in weight, of flour and water with a very small amount of yeast, and left to ripe for a long time. This allows bread to develop its characteristic flavours and texture.
You can make the poolish anywhere between 8 and 16 hours before you start mixing the final dough. Poolish should be a wet mixture, very much like a thick pancake batter and when the surface is covered in tiny bubbles, it’s ready to use. Bread made with preferment also tends to keep better, compared to bread made from straight dough.
Spelt and Oatmeal Bread Starsadapted from Ploetzblog
- Combine all the poolish ingredients in the mixing bowl and leave it, covered, at room temperature for 10-12 hours. If you want to use dry yeast, then 0.4 grams, about 1/8 teaspoon, would be enough.
- Add in the rest of ingredients and stir at slow speed for 6 minutes, then increase the speed and continue to mix for 8 more minutes until it comes together and pulls away from sides of bowl.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead the dough a few times and shape into a round. Cover and rest for 40 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 10-12 portions and shape each into a round. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- On a lightly floured work surface, gently flatten a dough ball. Cut 3 times on the center all the way to the bottom in a crisscross style, leaving about 2-cm edges intact. Now turn each triangle outside to create a 6-point star.
- Dip the star into water, then coat with a mix of seeds. Place them in baking trays lined with parchment paper. Cover and proof 90 minutes.
- Place a roasting tray at the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 240C/460F. Place the bread stars on the upper rack of the hot oven. Pour a cup of boiling water into the roasting tray. Bake for 20 minutes until they are nicely golden brown.