The Beer Yeast Poolish

If you recall, the wedding beer was quite lively and gaseous.

wpid-20140324_081203.jpgGURGLE GURGLE GURGLE *RASPBERRY*

Loud enough that it startled me several times. In the picture above, you can see a measuring cup with some blow off yeast in it. Well, waste not want not!

I decided to try and make bread out of it.

wpid-20140326_205624.jpgrather unpleasant looking, i’d say

I hunted around the internet for any advice and mostly saw “don’t” and “it makes dense bread”. Well, screw you, INTERNET, you can’t tell me what to do!

I decided to start off with a poolish. If the yeast was lively, it would grow.

wpid-20140326_205921.jpgagain, unpleasant looking

Sure enough, within a few hours we had:

wpid-20140327_101445.jpgIT’S ALIIIIIIVVVVVVVVEEEEE!!

Perplexed with what step to take next, I put the poolish in the fridge for two days while I thought about it.

wpid-20140327_135145.jpgPoolish Day Two: imma gonna eat ur refrigerator…

A dense loaf, like sourdough, was what what the INTERNETZ told me to expect. So I decided to do an italian bread with sugar and to use milk instead of water. Unfortunately, I had to go to work so my lovely fiance was charged with shaping, final proof and baking. I left him with sage tips, such as, “if it turns into a taquilla, call a priest.”

wpid-20140329_093606.jpgi swear, i am not a taquilla! what is wrong with you?

I came home to…


No, seriously, drumroll…

wpid-20140329_174849.jpgpretty sure that’s bread…

Not too bad for a first time shaping!  I’ve done worse! Seriously. Well done! Now what about the taste? If you recall, the wedding beer has raspberries in it and the yeast did have a slight raspberry smell. So we cut that bad boy open:

wpid-20140331_181809.jpgnot dense. ok, well i (bmary) am dense, but the bread isn’t

The flavor was slightly sweet and very good. It was not dense at all. I think the reason for this was that the yeast used was very fresh and the INTERNETZ was mostly discussing spent yeast, like from the bottom of the a beer after it brews. That I could see being considerably less lively. Regardless, this made very good bread! If you wanted to use spent yeast from a home brew, I would suggest feeding it much like a mother starter until it was fully awake and bubbly.

Screw saving a piece of wedding cake, we’ll save a beer thank you.

Seamstresses, Please Help!

Good morning everyone! Today is going to be a busy day for me. I plan to make a poolish with some collected yeast from our wedding beer, the future in-laws are coming over, it’s my only day off and I wanted to make a quick request before I got started on my shenanigans!

I need help. I have a coat, a favorite coat ever and it is older than I am and has seen better days. It was my Grandpa Charles’ jacket and he passed away shortly after I was born. I wear it quite often and it is just starting to really fall apart. It’s, seriously, a very cool coat.

wpid-20140327_084509.jpgit’s a bit of a canadian tuxedo, but I LOVE IT!

Honestly, tell me that is not the coolest coat ever? Ok, maybe love is a little blind, but I adore it. Firstly, it was my Grandpas, secondly, it is so beautifully well worn that it goes with anything.  If I’m going to try not to look like a complete redneck, I wear bright colors with it and a great pair of boots. Besides, my family’s more vaudeville than redneck. Otherwise, it is just honestly such a comfortable and freaking fabulous jacket, I can’t bear to see it fall apart.

So, what should I do? Let me show you the most distressing places:

wpid-20140327_084517.jpgthey don’t work…

The buttons have almost fallen off and the button holes have become so tattered that it honest to goodness does not button. Are patches applicable? Should I darn it? Am I even using the correct words?

wpid-20140327_084524.jpgsleeve one

Could I patch that? Would it be wise? Or should I just stitch it together as best as I can?

wpid-20140327_084534.jpgsleeve two

This one is a mess. Please help? Ideas are welcome!

Those are the place where I am most troubled. The lining is absolutely acceptable and the pockets are fine. There are no holes anywhere else. If you can help, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE comment or send me an email at and I will be eternally grateful!!!

Thank you! I will be back with more shenanigans!

Ciabatta Bread (on a busy day!)


Yesterday I made ciabatta and I apologize for not posting it. While it was going through it’s stages, I was fiddling with the Athena 2000 and after about 3 hours into fiddling:



wpid-20140117_100815.jpg wpid-20140117_094917.jpg wpid-20140117_094801.jpg wpid-20140117_094717.jpgwpid-20140117_094658.jpg “throw your arms in the air like you just wanna drop kick a machine!”

I just couldn’t take it anymore and had to take her into the shop, the closest one being 30 miles away. So I got a bit sidetracked and I will post about that later. Onto the ciabatta!

wpid-20140117_080111.jpgcoffee. step one is always make coffee. all my blogs should start with “today i arose from mine bed and went forth and made coffee” -sayeth brittany

First thing I had to do was pull the poolish I had made the day before which you can read about here out of the refrigerator and let it warm up for an hour.

wpid-20140117_072852.jpgit looks like the moon but it is not made of cheese

Then I assembled together the final ingredients.

wpid-20140117_080518.jpgthe actual step after this was “drink coffee”

Let me assure you, dear friends, this was a heck of a time to mix. I had to add more water than I thought, which I DESPISE doing. I always try to add less flour in the beginning because it is so much easier to add flour than water. I blame it on the fact that we are under an arctic chill here in Illinois and the house makes the desert seem humid. It’s so bad, I have to water some houseplants twice a week.

20140106_145403[1]sure, that seems like a reasonable excuse. clearly, it was ALIENS!

Anyway, I had to fight with that dough to get the right consistency and it was not exactly my favorite thing ever. But eventually, it started to behave.

wpid-20140117_084341.jpgthis is a sticky ball. stop giggling. this is serious.

wpid-20140117_092006.jpgstretching and folding

wpid-20140117_103629.jpg an hour later we’re bursting at the seams. yeast cells are such little piggies

wpid-20140117_103951.jpglook at that bubble. that is a delicious bubble.

wpid-20140117_104046.jpgsetting up a couche, or as i like to call it, a towel that is bunched up so the dough doesn’t stick

Right about


is when I finally called around about the sewing machine. Being that the place closed early and was forty minutes away, I decided to rush things a wee tiny bit. I originally was going to use my peel, like I’m fancy or something, and bake them two at a time directly on the stone. To save time, I put all four on sheet pans and just rotated them for baking.

wpid-20140117_114321.jpglooking good, kiddies!

wpid-20140117_122421.jpgand….delicious! can you see the hole? that was where the thermometer went.

The bread turned out very tasty, but still not as hole-y as I would like. The crust was beautiful. I mean, spot on A+ crust. But…oh, the crumb. It was good, but just not quite there.  Again, I am blaming the low hydration. Something I am going to have to play with. I might try again Monday…

Have a wonderful day, everyone!! 😀

P.S. this is what the inside looks like:

wpid-20140118_123422.jpgnot holey enough!!! needs more holes!!

Ciabatta Poolish

Considering tomorrow that I will have ample time to bake, I decided I will make ciabatta bread. Ciabatta was the first serious bread I made. By serious, I mean technically difficult and requiring more effort than combine, knead, proof, bake. It’s a very wet dough and produces bread that is delicious, chewy and full of holes. Fantastic for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil or eating directly out of the oven with a guilty look on your face.

I first made it in my tiny apartment kitchen and I believe the whole process took (aside from the poolish) 4 or 5 hours. It was insane and delightful. I struggled to get it right and in the end, although the bread was absolutely wonderful, I felt it wasn’t quite there. I went back to my sandwich breads and tried other recipes.

I have been hesitant to try it again, remembering the way I had to mother hen the dough. It’s sticky, it’s wet, it’s hard to handle. Also, I have made other breads that are easier and produce just as tasty results. But, I’ve got a window of free time tomorrow and I have loads more experience. I will not post the recipe, as it is not mine and it would not be very becoming of me. So you’ll have to be satisfied with pictures.

Day 1:

The Poolish

wpid-20140116_081036.jpgafter it has been first mixed, if i recall correctly, it stays this delightfully sticky

It has to ferment for about 4 or five hours at room temperature and then it goes into the refrigerator. A poolish is a pre-ferment to get more flavor and texture from the final product. It gives the recipe a kick in the pants before it’s even made. As they usually take about 5 to 10 minutes to put together and then live in the fridge, I would never dream of skipping them. It’s all about planning ahead.

And while we wait, some important bread baking tips:

  • Always make one ugly loaf that you have to eat immediately so no one can see it.
  • I won’t judge you if you eat the bread before it’s cooled sufficiently

wpid-20140116_090706.jpgone hour in, i can’t help it, i have to peek

  • If no one sees you eat an entire baguette, it doesn’t count. Besides, to the victor the spoils?
  • Right????
  • RIGHT???????
  • If you’re gluten free, I am really, really sorry.

Anyway, here’s where we are at after four hours.


It smells yeasty and wonderful! Can’t wait to bake it up tomorrow!