This is another recipe from the Belgian cookbook. You may think I'm a little obsessed with this, and, well, I kind of am, so let's leave it at that.
I can't imagine how anyone came up with the idea of bread. I mean, imagine this conversation:
Pre-bread person 1: "I just had an idea."
Pre-bread person 2: "Oh, yeah?"
Pre-bread person 1: "Yeah. I was thinking we could grind up a bunch of wheat seeds, then mix them with water and let them sit around a while until they get all frothy. Then we can add some more ground-up wheat seeds and mush it around until we have these nice elastic balls of, oh, I don't know, let's call it dough. Then we could let these dough balls sit around for a while, and while they're doing that we could build a big fire in the oven and get it really hot. Then we could put the dough balls in the hot oven and cook them for a while, and once they're cooked we could take them out, slice them, and make sandwiches."
Pre-bread person 2: "Screw-off."
Pre-bread person 1: "What-EVER!"
See? How did it happen?!
the other day. Poolish is a pre-ferment, which means you make a sort of starter dough before you do the real one that will become your bread. If you're making sourdough, poolish is the name of the game since this is how you collect wild yeast from the air to make your sourdough starter (what pre-bread person 1 was up to by letting the water and flour sit around for a while until it got a bubbly). This recipe shortcuts the yeast harvesting and uses commercial yeast -- it's still a worthwhile step though, since your bread will have more character than if you make the whole loaf from start to finish in one go.
So, the day BEFORE you want to make the bread (remember Henry Blake and the bomb? "But first...") make your poolish with 75 g of rye flour and 75 g of bread flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and 2/3 cups of water. Stir this around until it's mixed and let it sit, covered on the counter for a day or so. (You need a scale for this recipe, by the way! From what I understand, weighing is the only way to ensure a bread recipe works properly. Personally, I think this is a bit misleading, since bread making is a pretty organic process, and you can vary things and use your judgement until your dough feels right. However, I have a scale, and a recipe with weights, so here we are weighing stuff.)
Bake for 40 minutes -- you know they're done if they sound hollow when you tap them (SEE, another judgement thing.)
Now get ready for some GREAT sandwiches!!
Bon Appétit! Eet Smakelijk!