Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.
Variety is the spice of life, right? More so, when it comes to flavors and baking methods, whether it's for a cookie, cupcake, bread, cake or any other baked good.
Whenever I come across a method for bread making that I haven't tried before, I just want to jump with excitement and I can't rest unless I've tried it. Recently when I stumbled upon an overnight poolish method on this Corner Cafe blog (via thefreshloaf) which claimed to make real soft and fluffy bread, I decided to give it a try. Though you can make any shape, I really loved the shape of these buns and so enjoyed giving them almost croissant sort of look.
Among all the bread making variations that I've tried so far, Tangzhong has been my favorite. After all, it made the softest and fluffiest white bread I've ever eaten! no wonder it's the most liked recipe on my blog at the moment. It was going to be pretty hard for another method to live up to my expectations and give similar results. So how did this poolish method fare? Well, I wouldn't say it's better than the Tangzhong method, but it's pretty close to it, or may be if I try a couple of times more, I might get a better result, who knows?
The only slight drawback (if you want to call it that) with this method is that it requires planning, since you make the starter (poolish) the day before you want to bake bread. Once you make the poolish, you need to keep it in the refrigerator that has been set at about 6 degrees C (a couple of degrees here n there is fine) for at least 16 hours (mine was for almost 24 hours). This gives the starter enough time to work, thereby enhancing the flavor and texture of your bread. The next day you just make the dough, let it rise, shape and bake!
If you love experimenting with bread making methods, you should try this overnight poolish method. You won't regret it! :)
Makes 12 buns
For Overnight Poolish
150 grams / 5.3 ounces bread flour
150-170 grams / 5.3-5.5 ounces lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
For the Dough
250 grams / 9 ounces bread flour
100 grams / 3.5 ounces all purpose or plain flour
50 grams / 2 ounces caster sugar
1 plus 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 egg lightly beaten and at room temperature
1 plus 1/4 teaspoon regular salt
75-100 grams / 3-3.5 ounces water at room temperature
50 grams / 2 ounces unsalted butter cut into small cubes and at room temperature
1 small egg for egg wash (optional)
For Overnight Poolish
In a bowl, mix the bread flour, yeast and 150 grams / 5.3 ounces water. The consistency of the mixture should be that of a thick pancake batter. Add more water if required to get this consistency. Cover the bowl with cling film and let prove for 1 hour in a warm place.
Place the covered bowl in the fridge for at least 16 hrs. It should look bubbly. Let poolish return to room temperature, about half an hour before using.
For the Dough
In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix both the flours, sugar and yeast. Add the egg, poolish, salt and mix. Pour in the water and mix with a large metal spoon (or on low speed of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment) until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more water until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter and knead (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) adding more flour if necessary to create a dough that is soft, smooth and elastic. Add the butter a cube at a time until it's incorporated in the dough before adding another one. Form into a ball shape.
Lightly butter a large bowl and rotate the dough in the bowl so as to coat the dough with fat. Cover the bowl with a cling film and let it rest at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size.
Knock back the dough, divide into twelve equal size portions, cover and leave to rest for 10 mins.
Line a 30cms × 25cms / 12 inches x 10 inches baking tray (I didn't have a tray of this exact size and so the rolls didn't fit snuggly). Lightly flour your worktop and roll each ball into a carrot shape of about 15 cms / 6 inches in length. Roll out using a rolling pin till it's about 30 cms / 12 inches in length. Now roll up from the wider end, like you are shaping a croissant.
Arrange all the shaped buns with the seam side down on the baking tray, spray or brush with oil and cover loosely with a cling film. Let the buns rest until they are more than double in size. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
Brush the buns with the beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven till they are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Storage Suggestions: This bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days in a ziplock bag or frozen for up to a month.