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Biga + flour/water autolysis

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bruneski's picture
bruneski

Biga + flour/water autolysis

Hi!

Let`s assume I`m making a biga-based bread which

(a) has the biga made with 200 g rye flour, 130 g water and 0.5 g (1∕6 tsp) active dry yeast and

(b) incorporates 120 g unbleached white flour and 110 g lukewarm water in the final dough.

(for simplicity, I`ll omit the remaining ingredients since they are unrelated to my question below).

At the end of the 8-to-12-hour rest period, this 65%-hydration biga is very firm. If I want to autolyse the flour+water mixture, how should I incorporate the biga?

Should I first dissolve the biga, cut up in small pieces, in the 110 g lukewarm water, then mix in the 120 g unbleached white flour and finally let this mix (biga-water-white flour) autolyse for 30 to 60 minutes?

Or should I mix 110 g lukewarm water and 120 g unbleached white flour, let this mix (water-white flour) autolyse for 30 to 60 minutes and then incorporate the biga cut up in very small pieces?

Or is there a another, possibly better, way to do this?

Thanks for any advice! Bruneski. 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

1. Should I first dissolve the biga, cut up in small pieces, in the 110 g lukewarm water, then mix in the 120 g unbleached white flour and finally let this mix (biga-water-white flour) autolyse for 30 to 60 minutes?

2. Or should I mix 110 g lukewarm water and 120 g unbleached white flour, let this mix (water-white flour) autolyse for 30 to 60 minutes and then incorporate the biga cut up in very small pieces?

I vote for #2.

#1 will help distribute the preferment more effectively, but by introducing the preferment into your autolyse, the acid from the preferment can tighten the dough, thereby combating the purpose of the autolyse. Depending on the final hydration of your dough, this is sometimes the only option; but your formula will result in 75% hydration, so this shouldn't be a problem for you. 

All that said: my guess is that you won't find a big difference in the end result between the two methods, if all  other steps are equal. But prove me wrong: try them both out and see if you can tell the difference in the finished product :)

 

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... exactly my choice this last weekend when I made a Schwarzbrot. The autolysis yield a beautiful result, with very developed gluten strands.

One week before, while making a Swedish Rye Bread, I used the first method.

Result-wise, both seemed to work equally well. But, the second was a tad more laborious, owing to the firmness of the biga.

À propôs, how low can the hydration of the flour be (white or bread flours) in order to get an efficient 30-to-60-min autolysis?

In the Schwarzbrot, this hydration was close to 92% (110 g of water to 120 g of white flour).

Could I have used part of these 110 g of water to dissolve the biga and the remainder of the water to mix with the white flour (for autolysing).

Thanks for your input, Cranbo.

Have a great week. Bruneski.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

My guess is that you can't go much lower than 50% overall hydration, otherwise the dough will be too dry. That said I've never tried to autolyse so dry of a dough. 

Could I have used part of these 110 g of water to dissolve the biga and the remainder of the water to mix with the white flour (for autolysing).

Sure absolutely...although you don't have that much free water in your formula, it probably would help. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes. 

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... my last question: how little of the available 110 g of water can I use to efficiently autolyze 120 g of white flour?

Of course, the hydration of the final dough will still be 75%!

Thanks. Bruneski.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Bruneski, to clarify my last response, I meant 50% hydration of your autolysed mixture. 

Your current autolyse formula is 120g flour + 110g water (91.6% hydration)

I would say you would need to use at least 60g of water in your autolysed mixture:

120g flour + 60g water, i.e., a 50% hydrated autolyse 

This would leave you with up to 50g free water to dissolve your biga. 

This is just an estimate; depending on the flour and environmental conditions, this it's entirely possibly that 50% hydration may still be too dry and crumbly to promote effective autolysis. 

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... for the additional info!  It will certainly be useful! Take care! Bruneski.

isand66's picture
isand66

I usually do #2 and it works perfectly.

Ian

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... the 2nd method seems more to the point, despite being more laborious.

Thanks. Take care. Bruneski.

Franko's picture
Franko

It really depends on what type of biga based bread you're making and the flours you're using. Biga being a stiff preferment, my choice (in most cases) would be to include it in the autolyse so that all of your flour is fullly hydrated before the final mix. That being said, I agree with cranbo that you probably wouldn't notice any significant difference between the two procedures in small, home size, batches. 

Franko 

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... thanks for the advice!

Take care. Bruneski.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi bruneski,

I actually think your problem is with your formula which has too much biga by proportion.   Your formula suggests 62.5% pre-fermented flour.   I would take 50% as being a maximum for this type of formula.

If you did that, then you would end up with the following:

Biga: rye 160g, water 104g, d. yeast 0.4g

and add White flour 120g, rye 40g, water 136g

Your autolyse would usually be just the flour and water in the second part of the formula.   It is customary to withold the pre-ferment when the hydration in the pre-ferment is less than the overall hydration of the dough - see Hamelman on this.

Your final overall hydration is around 75% which is actually quite high.   I am thinking you could carry out effective autolyse and still hold back say 15 - 20g water, which you can use to good effect to combine the biga and autolyse later on.   You could also dissolve your salt in some of this water, assuming you have salt in the formula.

Hope this helps

Andy 

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... enlightening comments, Andy. Thank you!

What you described is a third alternative that might work pretty well.

The Schwarzbrot formula I'm using indeed has an overall hydration of 75% and works very well, yielding a wonderful loaf of very tasty bread.

The remaining ingredients of the final dough are 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp dark molasses, 1.5 tbsp vinegar (or buttermilk or yogurt), 3 tbsp soft butter, 0.5 g active dry yeast, 1 tbsp caraway seeds and 0.5 tsp fennel seeds.

Following your ideas, I should

(a) make a smaller biga (scaled down to 80% of what I described in my original post),

(b) autolyse the dough formed with 120 g white flour, 40 g rye flour and  116 g warm water,

(c) use the remaining 20 g water to dissolve the final biga,

(d) mix autolysed flours with dissolved biga, and,

(e) add the remaining ingredients to this dough.

Is this correct?

However, I couldn`t figure in "which" water you suggest I should dissolve the salt! Btw, I worked the salt into the final dough right before adding the caraway seeds and the fennel seeds.

Thanks a lot for your help. Take care. Bruneski.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Bruneski,

The 20g of water, and you could warm the water and dissolve your molasses in it too whilst you are doing that.

Surely this formula would work better as a sourdough anyway; given it's a high rye base?

Best wishes

Andy

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... I haven't yet reached the sourdough level/stage. :-)

As a matter of fact, even though I haven`t really been counting, this might be only the 10th loaf I've ever made (you can check it out at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/34052/improved-schwarzbrot).

Thanks for the idea on how to incorporate the molasses. I`ve already included it in the method!

But, what was your idea on when/where to incorporate the salt? This still remained unclear to me.

Take care. Bruneski.

ananda's picture
ananda

dissolve the salt in the same water you use for the molasses...ie the bit you keep back from the autolyse

A

bruneski's picture
bruneski

Have a great day! Bruneski.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Agree that limiting the proportion of pre-fermented flour to 50% is the way to go. 

As for mixing/autolysing, I would suggest mixing main dough flour and water until there are no more dry spots, then cut the biga up into pieces and place on top.  Draw the main dough up and over the biga (use a spoon if it is quite liquid) to encapsulate the biga, but stop there and don't attempt to mix it in.  Autoyse for an hour, and the biga will absorb some water from the main dough, but have less adverse effect on the autolyse than if you distributed it into the dough.

After the autolyse, add salt and any other ingredients and mix thoroughly.  This is my favorite autolyse/mix process when the pre-ferment and main dough have substantially different hydrations.

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... has already been updated to bring down the proportion of pre-fermented flour (from 62,5% to 50,0%).

Your suggestion for the autolyse/mix process, involving main dough and biga, is very interesting. I`ll probably try it in my next biga-based bread.

Thanks for the tips, FlourChild!

Have a great week! Bruneski.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

keep preferments to no more than 30% of the dough flour and water weight and SD levains to around 20% max. But these rules can easily be broken now and again too.

We don't like levains or preferment in the autolyse.  Whole grain dough flours we autolyse for at least 4 hours at a hydration no less than the final hydration of the dough - but 8 hours in the fridge is on too,   With a low hydration preferment like a biga this usually isn't a problem.  White flours get autolysed for 2 hours.  I also like to sprinkle the salt on the top of the autolyse after mixing so I don't forget it :-)

Happy baking

bruneski's picture
bruneski

... points, dabrownman!

Thanks for the advice. Take care. Bruneski.