Richard Bertinet’s Ale & Yeast Poolish Bread

This recipe comes from Crust by Richard Bertinet, which he provided to us for the Virtual Baking Summit. Beer can provide a lovely flavor to bread, boosting the yeasty and slightly sour profile from its own fermentation. This recipe assumes you have a baking stone and bread peel, but if you don’t have either of these, simply bake on sheet pans dusted with semolina.

Makes 4 small loaves


Poolish Ferment:

  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) ale, lukewarm
  • Scant 1 cup (125 grams) strong white flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (5 grams) fresh yeast


  • All of the poolish (from above)
  • 5 ¾ cups (750 grams) strong white flour
  • 6 tablespoons (50 grams) strong whole meal flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (5 grams) fresh yeast
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (500 grams) water
  • 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons (15 grams) salt
  • a little white flour for dusting, plus a little semolina flour for dusting the peels


Make the Ferment:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in your mixing bowl. Cover with a large, split plastic freezer bag, secured with an elastic band, and leave to rest at room temperature for 3-5 hours until the mixture is well risen and some bubbles appear.

Make the Bread:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F/250°C. Unless you are going to bake in batches, you will need to use both shelves of the oven and put two baking stones or trays in to get good and hot. You will need enough peels or trays to load all the loaves onto before putting them into the oven. Line two large trays with couches or baking cloths.
  2. Keeping the poolish in the same bowl, add all of the ingredients for the bread except the salt and mix together with your scraper. When everything starts to come together into a dough, use your scraper to help you turn it out onto your work surface.
  1. Start to work the dough. After about ten minutes, sprinkle the salt over the top and continue to work the dough until it is smooth, strong and elastic, and comes away from your work surface cleanly.
  1. Lightly flour your surface and form the dough into a ball. Put the dough back into your lightly floured mixing bowl, cover with a baking cloth and leave to rest for 1 hour.
  1. Lightly flour your surface again and turn out the dough. Fold the dough and then put it back into the bowl. Cover and leave to rest for another hour.
  1. Turn out of the bowl and divide into 4 equal pieces of about 400 grams each. Shape each piece into a loaf and lay 2 of them on each of your (lightly floured) couche or cloth-lined trays, seam-side down. Cover with a baking cloth and leave to prove for 1-2 hours until just under double in volume.
  1. Dust your peels lightly with a little fine semolina, load the loaves onto your peels and slash the tops. Open the oven door and mist inside. Slide the loaves onto your hot baking stones or trays in the oven – 2 on each – and spray some more water onto the sides and floor of the oven before quickly closing the door. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  1. After this time, turn down the heat to 425°F/220°C and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and the bases sound hollow when tapped.


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Pastry at Home is a hub for elevated dessert recipes for home bakers. Our editors Tish Boyle and AnnMarie Mattila strive to bring you the best curated content to help make you a smarter baker and dessert maker. If you want to be a part of our community, please contribute on the Submit a Recipe page. Or if you have another contribution idea or product you think we would like, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!


  1. I have a question: I just started putting the polish together (my first time trying this method) and on my digital kitchen scale, 125g of Ale is about 1/2cup, not 1 cup. So which is it?

    • Hi Trish: go with 125 grams — I believe the author added the cup measurements after, which is probably where the mistake was made. I will update the recipe — thanks for bringing it to our attention!

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