The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

biga

Salilah's picture

Help - spare biga! What to do - pref sweet?

November 30, 2012 - 10:56am -- Salilah

Help - any ideas please?

My other half has got interested in bread (I tend to do most of the bread, sourdough mainly) - but he hasn't quite yet "got it" about recipes etc.  We have around 550g of biga gradually growing - and his recipe only needs 200g (he hasn't spotted this, and I don't want to make any more "suggestions"!!)...

rpt's picture

Sponge versus Straight Dough

October 8, 2012 - 5:01am -- rpt
Forums: 

I've often wondered what difference using a sponge has compared to making a straight dough with long fermentation. There have been various discussions here but I've never seen a definitive answer. So I decided to try my own experiment by baking two loaves with identical recipes.

The first loaf was mixed and kneaded on Thursday night at 10pm with all the ingredients. It was then left in the fridge until 3.30pm Friday, shaped and placed in the tin at 7pm and finally baked at 8.30pm.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I made an enormous ciabatta weighing nearly 1 kilo. I used an 18hr-fermented biga starter and a combination of medium and weak flours. This thing was massive!

Biga:
400g '00' flour from Shipton Mill
160g cold water
1.3g Instant yeast

Final dough:
Fermented biga
320g cold water
200g plain flour (9.4% protein)
24g Extra virgin olive oil
12g Non-diastatic malt powder
12g Salt
2g diastatic malt powder 

olive oil for S&f.

Method:
To make the biga, first weigh all the ingredients. Put flour and yeast in the mixing bowl and turn on the mixer adding water gradually to form breadcrumbs and let run until you get a dry dough. Roll out the dough and fold up. Cover and leave overnight at cool room temperature for 18hrs.

Next day weigh all ingredients and cut the biga into pieces. Mix biga and 150g of water until combined. Then add flour, malts, salt and mix adding the rest of the water in stages. Once the dough begins to clean the mixing bowl add the olive oil and finish the mix to achieve a satin-smooth, slightly sticky dough.

Place dough in a well oiled flat and wide container. Cover and rest. Stretch and fold the dough at 20 minute intervals until the dough almost doubles in size. Rest for 20 minutes before shaping business letter style. Roll shaped dough in flour, give it a final dust of flour and leave to proof until doubled in size. Stone-bake with steam.

I had to shape and proof the dough very carefully being so huge already and not having a very big oven, stone or proofing tray/peel.

Baked ciabatta dimensions: 15"x9"x4.5".

Crumb - open and very, very light.

 

Probably one of the best ciabatta's I ever made. Subtle and moreish in flavour. Perfectly chewy and shreadable in texture.

javajavabug's picture

Biga to Dough Ratio

April 17, 2012 - 7:20am -- javajavabug

I was wondering, is there was a perfect biga to dough ratio?

I made an Italian bread, not ciabatta, and I felt like there might have been too much biga in it. In the recipe I used, the biga weighed 17 ounces, a little over half of the weight of the entire bread. The bread was overly chewy and a bit tough. I don't think I over kneaded it either. 

Is there a rule of thumb I should follow when making a bread with a biga?

Thanks so much! 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Flavoured Ciabatta made using traditional methods. Suitable for sandwiches.

Traditional Biga - left to ferment for approx 15hrs at cool room temp.
300g '00' Flour, medium strength
150g cold water
1.1g Instant yeast

Final Dough - kept warm at 28c.
420g Biga
70g '00' Flour, medium strength
4g Malt Powder
7g salt
140g water
28g good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
sun-dried tomatoes to taste

Method
Mix biga by hand using downward pressure to a smooth, dry dough. Leave at room temp overnight for about 15hrs.
Next day, cut the big into pieces add malt powder, flour and an equal amount of water. Mix until smooth. Continue mixing adding the remaining water in stages.  Add salt with the last of the water. Finally add the oil and mix to full gluten development before folding in the  tomatoes.

Place dough in a well oiled flat and wide container. Leave to rise at warm temp (~28C). Stretch and fold at 30 min intervals until the dough is strong enough to sit high. Wait until almost double in size (~3hrs) before dividing in two.

Leave pieces to rest for 20 mins before shaping like a business letter. Dust with more flour and proof until double with cracks in the flour (~2hrs)
Bake.

Proofed:

Total dough volume is approx 4 times that of the mixed dough.

Baked:

Oven spring was great as with any well made ciabatta, rising vertically, swelling like a balloon. 

Crumb:

Extremely soft and porous crumb.


Michael

GregS's picture

Retard Levain Only?

November 3, 2011 - 11:18am -- GregS

Is it possible to cold retard a biga or poolish for a day or two? I assume that if I did so, I could take the leavain out with a little more flexible timing and finish the loaves on a day of my choice (within the retardation time frame). Would the finished loaves be distinctly better or worse if I retarded only the levain?

I know I could retard the shaped loaves, but I'd rather finish the process all at once. Any experiences or opinions?

Thanks, folks.

GregS

yankeedave's picture

Tuscan bread - add yeast to biga?

September 12, 2011 - 7:17am -- yankeedave

I have two books with recipes for salt-free Tuscan bread: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Reinhardt and Local Breads by Daniel Leader. Reinhardt calls for a biga with no yeast, using boiling water, and leaving it out overnight. Leader calls for yeast, with room temp water, and letting it sit for an hour before refrigerating it. It may not make a whole lot of difference but this is my first attempt so I'm curious to hear if others have tried making this style, what they've used, and what kind of results they've gotten. Thanks.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Despite failing to post about it, I'm still at my quest for a perfect, hole-y ciabatta.  The last two weeks were interesting, to say the least.  

If you recall, two weeks ago I baked Craig Ponsford's ciabatta (a la Maggie Glezer), with results that were just about perfect.  Last week I tried to replicate the experience.  First, the formula and proceedure:

Biga:

  • 300g King Arthur AP flour (the original calls for 200g Bread Flour and 100g AP) - 91%
  • 15g Whole Rye Flour - 4.5%
  • 15g Whole Wheat Flour - 4.5%
  • 185g Water - 56%
  • 0.016g Instant Yeast - 0.005%* 

*(originals calls for mixing 1/2 tsp yeast with 1 cup water, then measuring 1/2 tsp yeast-water into the biga. I have a scale with 0.01g graduations, and just measured 0.02g. )

Final Dough

  • 325g King Arthur AP flour
  • 342g Water
  • 12g Salt
  • 1.55g Instant yeast (1/2 tsp)
  • Biga (All)
  1. Mix biga ingredients together until smooth.  Biga will be quite stiff.  
  2. Allow to ferment for 24 hours, or until tripled (Two weeks ago I didn't keep track, last week I only waited for a little more than double, possible a mistake).
  3. Combine all final dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix with the hook for 5 minutes.  Dough will be very gloopy.
  4. I gave it 30 stretch and folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Not sure if this had any effect--I'll probably skip in in the future.
  5. Ferment 3 hours.  At 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes, dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface to stretch and fold.
  6. Divide the dough in half, making two oblong shapes.  Fold each oblong in thirds, letter style (this will produce something vaguely square).  Gently stretch each dough piece into an oblong, and place on a well floured couche (I omitted the stretch last week--I think this was a mistake), seam side down.  Yes, down.  Cover with plastic, but try to keep the plastic off the surface of the dough.
  7. Proof 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees (or with my POS oven, 535)
  8. With wet fingers, make small dimples all over the exposed surface of the dough.
  9. Flip the loaves onto parchment on a sheet pan or peel.  Slide the loaves into the oven, turn temperature down to 450 and bake for 35 minutes, using your favorite steaming method for the first 15.
  10. Crack the oven door, turn off the oven, and wait 5-10 minutes more before removing the loaves to a cooling rack.
This formula is fun to make.  This is the dough after mixing:

First Fold, Before and After

Second Fold, Before and After

Third Fold, Before and After

Last Fold, Before and After

Ready to divide and proof:

Dimpling

Exterior:

Crumb:

This bake was...puzzling.  As you can see, these loaves were awfully tall for ciabatta.  The crumb was tighter than the previous week, more akin to a batard.  The flavor profile was a bit difference as well--the sour and whole-grain notes were stronger, while the poolease-y flavor (what I think of as pain a l'ancienne flavor) was more muted.  Indeed, if I'd stuck a couple of sourdough batards into my oven, and pulled these out, I'd have been neither surprised nor displeased in the least.  Since I in fact loaded a pair of conventionally leavened ciabatta...well, color me puzzled.  

Cut ahead to today.  I had intended to take another stab at the Ponsford recipe, but a number of circumstances prevented me from putting together a biga in time.  That 24 hour fermentation time is tricky to work around.  I did have time for a poolish, so instead I took another stab at SteveB's Double Hydration Ciabatta, with some modifications inspired by the Ponsford Ciabatta.  It went like this:

Poolish:

  • 190g KAF AP flour
  • 190 Water
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)

Final Dough

  • 310g Flour
  • 190g Water
  • 15g Olive Oil
  • 10g Salt
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)
  1. Mix poolish, ferment 12 hours.
  2. Whisk poolish with 150g water and oil.
  3. Add 30g flour and whisk vigorously until slightly frothy.
  4. Add remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Autolyze 30 minutes
  5. Sprinkle salt, yeast and remaining 40g water over dough.  Mix by hand until smooth (I started with the wooden spoon until the water was incorporated, then did about 60 stretch-and-folds with a spatula).
  6. Proceed as in the Ponsford recipe from step 5, except omit the 3rd fold, and the letter-fold after dividing.

The results:

Curiouser and curiouser!  Excellent crumb this time, much better than my two previous tries.  The dough seemed much stronger than on my previous two attempts, and I think the crumb is a result of that.   The dimpling technique may be a factor as well, hard to say.  Also rather tall for ciabatta, although not as ridiculous as last week.  Crust was nicely crispy.  Flavor was clean, sweet and creamy.  I think I liked the Ponsford ciabatta's flavor more, but it would be somewhat deceptive to say that one was "better" than the other, because they're really very different.  

Proposition: An open crumbed ciabatta requires a strong dough.  Getting a wet dough like ciabatta to be strong is the trick, but multiple stretch-and-folds will do it.  

Happy baking, everyone.

-Ryan

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