FOCACCISM PHENOMENOLOGY: AUTOLYSIS OR POOLISH?
FOCACCISM PHENOMENOLOGY: AUTOLYSIS OR POOLISH?
Photo Source: Antonino Rampulla
Brutally skip preambles and introduction, if you miss it, read the previous phenomenological examination concerning poolish, biga and proof . The aim is, sic et simpliciter, to try to understand, through empirical tests, what are the best ways to enjoy one of the most welcome gifts that mother nature and human ingenuity have made us: the focaccia!
Focaccia Poolish.jpg
What is poolish? It is a preferment prepared with equal parts of water and flour and a minimum amount (as far as I am concerned) of yeast, better if stuffed in the refrigerator ( obviously in a bowl ...), so much the yeasts are active even between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius, for 16 hours (if at room temperature, for much less time but the final quality of the poolish will also be different). The rule of leavened products always applies: if you are in a hurry, the crepes (crepes, for the Francophiles) are prepared in much less time ... The rest of the ingredients of the dough are added to the poolish, taking into account its 100% physiological hydration ( even if a little water actually evaporates a little).
What is autolysis? I never really understood it completely. It seems more like a matter of faith. It is prepared with 55% of water compared to flour, exactly like the biga (if we want to syndicate that the biga hydrates to 50% convincing us that that 5% really makes a substantial difference, let's talk ... ) But the chariot is kneaded a little more coarsely than autolysis and a little yeast is added immediately. In autolysis only the yeasts naturally present in the flour would act. So autolysis is a slightly more mixed dough but without added yeast. Another difference compared to the chariot is that in autolysis all the flour is generally used and not only a part ... How? Errata corrige: even in autolysis only a percentage of flour can be used, in this case from 20% up. Ok ... So this is a slightly more worked chariot, without yeast, which will be added later ... And the biga is instead an autolysis with a little yeast and a little less worked. ..
Pane Poolish.jpg
The problem is also semantic: autolysis, from a biological point of view, is the process by which a cell self-destroys ... In reality, in the process we are trying to understand, the enzymes present in the flour, "activated" by the water and the right heat, break down the starch into sugar which can thus become "food" for endogenous yeasts. The "reaction" of the yeasts with the sugars generates carbon dioxide and ethanol: the side effect, therefore indirect with respect to the action of the yeasts, is the swelling of the dough.
The phenomenon commonly called leavening , is nothing other than the storage of carbon dioxide and ethanol (which will however evaporate with cooking) between the glutin mesh of the dough. The mechanical action of the kneading is responsible for the creation of the glutin mesh. However, if the leavening process takes place too early compared to the structural consolidation of the dough (i.e. the sufficient elongation of the protein chains, i.e. the protein synthesis , which takes place in parallel thanks to particular enzymes), the result will be more scarce in terms of elasticity, extensibility and alveolar potential, in one word, in terms of strength . In order to optimize the goodness of the final post-cooking flavor it is therefore important that not all sugars are broken down: there is therefore a limit, relating to the characteristics of the flour used, which must not be exceeded. So talking about 48-hour leavening, it can mean many beautiful things but also that that dough would be better if it continued to "rise" in the dustbin...
Pane Poolish.jpg
Is it therefore legitimate to speak properly of autolysis ? In any case, we are interested in the result.
I repeated the experiment twice to check the uniformity of the impressions. For the same mix (50 grams of "00", 100 grams of re-milled semolina, 150 grams of whole wheat tummy, 20 grams of extra virgin olive oil, 10 of sugar, 10 of salt, 40 grams of sourdough, 70% of hydration the first time, 85% the second time; poolish at 30% the first time, 40% the second time; 100% autolysis for both times), times (for poolish and "autolysis", 16 hours in fridge at 8 degrees Celsius; for "leavening" of the complete dough, another 8 hours at spring room temperature) and cooking (on refractory stone with home oven at maximum temperature, grill above, ventilated in the center, static below), I have not found a substantial difference from the qualitative point of view: both mixtures were good but different and more suitable for one use than another.

The mixture with poolish has an alveolation tending towards a lateral extension rather than upwards and more irregular. It has a more delicate flavor and a more tending to softness fragrance / softness ratio. In my opinion, more suitable for making pizzas and focaccias rather than bread. It will be that in this period of quarantine (for covid-19) the taste of the mother yeast begins to tire me a bit, I know that in the mix with poolish the taste of the mother yeast is more present than the mixture with autolysis.

The mixture with autolysis has a more regular honeycomb, tends to swell more and a little more evenly. It has a more "panoso" flavor but less than the biga. The flavor of the mother yeast is less present and the fragrance / softness ratio tends more to the fragrance.
Text Source: Antonino Rampulla
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