The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Judith Fertig biga

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Tintin2's picture
Tintin2

Judith Fertig biga

After 24 hours I tought my preparation of biga is very stick.  Do you think the proportion of water and flour is right: 3 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup of water.  I found thisrecipe in the Judith Fertig's book.  Thank you.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

low at roughly 490g of flour and only 238 g of water = 49% hydration. this lower than a stiff bagel dough.  There must be a misprint  or error in the formula I would think. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A Biga is stiff. 50% or lower is the norm in Italy.

Classical biga

1kg flour (at least W330)
450ml water
10g fresh yeast

18hrs at 16C 

 1% yeast and the 16C temperature are pretty much standard characteristics.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Mike,

A question on the hydration.  Do you have any idea why the 'norm' in Italy is a low hydration for a biga?  I am curious.  I tend to think of Italian breads being more on the sweet side and would think that would call for a biga that has a higher hydration level and that is then allowed to ferment for a shorter period of time.

Note:  I know next to nothing about Italian breads other than ones posted here - primarily your panettone :-) which is made with a very enriched dough.  So I figure now is a good time to learn a bit more.  My mind can only absorb so much new material at a time  :-O

Thanks,

Janet

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Janet,

Traditionally flour in Europe is weak, milled from soft wheat unlike the hard wheat so abundant in North America and Canada. Bread made with this weak flour would be dense and cakey in texture. So to improve things the Biga starter was used to boost strength and also as a way to bring back some of the flavour lost in the move to commercial yeast. A firm Biga starter will develop acetic acid which tightens gluten, improving gas retention, allowing for greater volume and a more desirable bread-like texture.

As soon as flour is hydrated it begins a process of breaking down. This happens more quickly the higher the hydration and the warmer the temperature (protease and bacteria are more active). So to utilise the acidity developed during fermentation effectively without succumbing to the breakdown the Biga starter is made at a low hydration and risen at a very cool temperature.

Hope that helps,

Michael

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Michael,

Helps explain things perfectly.  I wasn't factoring in the weaker flour component when thinking about it since I use strong flours.  I have read about the weaker European flours but, since I don't actually bake with them, the information doesn't come to the fore front of my brain when thinking things through.....Makes perfect sense now when considering all of the factors 'they' are dealing with.  What an ingenious solution!  

Janet

 

jcking's picture
jcking

It might help if you could clarify your observation of the biga being sick.

Jim

Tintin2's picture
Tintin2

Not sick.  I mean hard or tough not humid and bubbling.

mirella's picture
mirella

Can we have a recipe for a small biga please? I bake only one bread a week , it would be nice to have a recipe for one bread only . The biga I made was too runny and I think the real biga should be denser.   I also would like to know how to achieve large holes in the bread, and I am not talking about ciabatta that is low and chewy. I am talking about real Italian bread , light and fluffy with large holes and the white part ( mollica ) that you can pull apart .  If I add extra vital gluten would I achieve the strings in the bread? ( Kind like panettone ). I am using King Arthur bread flour .

Thank you, ( I just try to get the bread I love )

Mirella