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Whole Wheat Poolish

1 cup milk or buttermilk
1 cup water
1 Tbs packed brown sugar
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup wheat flour (hard, stone ground, if possible)

Combine the milk and water in an 8 cup batter bowl. Heat in microwave to 100 F. Stir in sugar until dissolved, then sprinkle yeast over the top. When the yeast softens, stir it into the mixture. Stir in 1 cup wheat flour until completely combined. Cover and let sit 1-2 hours. It will rise, then begin to collapse. When it collapses, it's ready to go. In practice, I find the process takes about an hour, but this will depend on how fresh the yeast is. Makes enough sponge for two 8x4 loaves. This one really works, and, more often than not, I use buttermilk or buttermilk powder.