The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Biga Help and Questions

  • Pin It
Gumbo's picture
Gumbo

Biga Help and Questions

Brand new to bread making and anything to do with flour in general. Just started culinary school at the local state college and am now hooked on making bread. I find this forum to be an excelent source of information and could spend all day exploring.

I'm on a quest to make a French Bread with a high acetic acid content - I like the flavor and aroma. After going through this forum I discovered that a Biga or low hydration preferment would favor the production of acetic acid - no sure if thats correct but would appreciate it if someone can tell me if I'm on the right track.

The other thing I would like to know, is can you keep a Biga and feed it like a sourdough starter ? If so what ratios would one use and sould I keep it in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Not sure why I'm hooked on bread making after so many years of being afraid of anything to do with yeast and flour - but now it's got it's hooks buried in me.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

sour you should have a SD starter and maintain that.  I haven't good luck making sour tasting bread with a biga or poolish but  haven't  tried to make it sour by maintaining a biga like a SD starter.

 

jcking's picture
jcking

Yet I would say from what I've read the French don't care for a sour bread. Even the tasty sourdough some French bakers use is quite mild for a sour dough. French flour is generally a higher ash flour than white American flour which gives their baguettes a distinct flavor. Try subbing 5% whole wheat as part of the total flour and see if that suits your taste.

Jim

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Agreed. You're not going to get acetic sourness with a yeasted biga. The level of acetic acid is very low and is baked off, but still contributes to the aroma. If you want actual acetic sour taste, then you'll need to use sourdough.

But are you sure you like bread with a high acetic content. Not many people do... Explain to me the flavour you're hoping for...

Michael

Gumbo's picture
Gumbo

Thanks for the reply, not sure how to describe what I'm after other than the aroma of a bottle of vinegar and that vinegar acidic taste. I'm not after a SD taste. I love sourdough breads but it's not what I'm after. I think the difference is that SD bread has a "rounder" taste more like buttermilk whereas I'm lloking for a sharper bite.  I'm new to all this and did some looking around on this forum and from what I understood was that a low hydration starter would produce more acetic acid and a high hydration starter would produce lactic acid.

The whole reason behind this quest is to re-create a New Orleans style po-boy bread and after talking to a lot of friends from N.O. the closest anyone could get to the authentic taste was by adding vinegar to the dough. Everyone talked about using a slow fermentation but while they could develop the texture they couldn't get the taste close without the addition of vinegar. Hope this helps to understand where I'm going with this.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

like adding vinegar is the solution. Is there a reason you're avoiding the obvious?

David G

Gumbo's picture
Gumbo

David, thanks for the reply. The reason I don't want to go the adding vinegar route is that it only gets "close" to the taste - many years ago I wanted to attempt making po-boy bread but was afraid of making anything with yeast. I did do quite a bit of research and have a folder somewhere that I can't find and they specifically mentioned using a starter and a long-fermentation time to bring up the level of acetic acid - noting that this is what gave the bread it's unique flavor.

I guess that sometimes I get an idea in my head and pursue till I either figure it out or just get so frustrated that I give up. Thanks

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I doubt a biga is the solution to what your seeking. If you want acetic acid in your dough, to the best of my knowledge, you've got two options only.

1. add vinegar

2. develop a sourdough starter that contains at least one strain of heterobacteria, i.e. bacteria that produces both lactic and acetic acid. You will always get both acids produced by such bacteria.  Thus one has to build levain, whose enviroment favors acetic acid development. That requires some unique knowledge.

The best guidance I can offer for the second alternative is here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1#comment-181531

Debra Wink is a microbiologist, an experienced baker, and a TFL treasure.

I'll offer you a a third option, that I think might work. Build your dough with commercial yeast, a biga if you wish, and  retard its fermantation for at least 15 to 24 hours. This will require refrigeration or, ideally a wine cooler that chills (~55ˆ°F) but not to typical refrigerator temperature (38°F to 40°F) Add the recommended vinegar AFTER fermentation is completed, divide, shape, proof and bake. This approach develops the enzymatic influenced flavors during fermentation, and delays the introduction of acid until the dough is well developed.

David G

 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Sourdough with tang

Many recipes call for building your culture up to 15% or so of the overall formula. I find at this level the breads have a very mild tang profile.   Like you, I prefer a more robust tang factor.

This can be accomplished by 1) using several builds to increase the preferment build (to 30-40%, even as high as 50%) and 2) use a cold retard/refrigerator the final loaf overnight to further build the desired qualities.

1) In the morning refresh 2 tbs of your starter at 100% hydration, after having done same the prior night.  By mid afternoon is should be very lively.  Build your next stage by using a few tablespoons of the now vigorous starter and combine it with approx 10% of the flour and water, maintaining 100% hydration.  Mix well, cover bowl with saran wrap.  Ferment at 75- 78 degrees, which can be accomplished by using your oven with light on, oven off.

2) At bedtime add another 30% (of the recipe total) keeping it at 100% hydration.  This now gives 40% preferment. Let it ferment overnight, again in oven with only the light bulb on. I use my stainless mixing bowl, cover with saran wrap. 

3) At 7am mix your final dough incorporating all ingredients except salt, let autolyse for 40 minutes, add salt, knead (or use stretch and fold method), will take 2-3 hours to rise. On your final stretch, roughly round and tighten dough, wait 10 minutes, then shape tightly into the final loaf.  Place smooth side down in lined and dusted basket, place in plastic bag and refrigerate -let rise 8 hours.

4) At hour 7 turn on oven to 475°, let your stone preheat one hour.  At hour 8 slash the loaf and put quickly into hot oven.  Steam, lower to 460°, and continue to steam for the first 12 minutes.

I like the resulting tang which is caused by a combination of a high preferment (40% vs. 15-20%) and the 8 hour or longer refrigeration.  You can experiment.

I find I achieve a better rise and higher dome in the baked loaf by taking the dough out of the refrigerator, slashing and direct into oven, rather than letting it sit out a few hours to get to room temp.  Or you can use loaf pans.  Start using a recipe with 68% hydration; you can increase if using whole grains.  At 20% and overnight, the bread is very nice with a barely discernible tang.  Moving to 40% noticeably increases the tang factor.  The natural acids formed result in a lower ph, and the keeping quality of the loaf will be a week unrefrigerated- if it lasts that long.  Whole grains work just fine too, having to increase the overall hydration a few percentage points more...   Essentially a three stage build, once you have a starter that is ready to go.

Good luck, give it a whirl...

 

Gumbo's picture
Gumbo

Thanks David and Niciksafoodie, will try both suggestions - like I said I'm new to bread baking and probably need all the help I can get . Never imagined that one day I would enjoy making bread. Since I've allready had a Biga going since 10:00 am I will probably try Nick's method first and then on Tue. or Wed try David's method. I tend to want to know they "why" when something works.

On another note I was born and raised in Ireland till I was 11 then our family immigrated to the states and I lived in New Orleans until 2003 when I moved to Pensacola, FL. Still a lot of things I miss from N.O. that I can't get here - this brings me to my other project that's hangin out in the fridge right now and that's my 20lbs of cubed Boston Butt and seasonings that I will be stuffing into sausage casings Sat. afternoon that I will smoking Sun. - homemade Andouille !!

Thanks again for the proper direction !!!

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

@Gumbo,

Take a look at David Snyder's San Francisco Sourdough recipe here.

It took David awhile to develop the sour taste that I think you're after.

If I remember correctly New Orlean Poor Boy rolls have a bit of sweet in them - this along with the sour creates a sweet/sour contrast that gives them a distinctive taste...,

Wild-Yeast

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Gumbo, a couple of areas you may want to research:

1) Detmolder method used for German sour ryes - Hamelman's Bread book has a great chapter on it. 

2) Dan Leader's "Local Breads" also has great chapters on sourdough, Polish and German style breads