The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

biga

  • Pin It
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

littlelisa's picture

percentage whole wheat in a white sandwich loaf formula

May 15, 2011 - 12:21pm -- littlelisa

In my ongoing adventures with Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb, I decided to try one of the sandwich loaves. However, PR only presents a 100% white and 100% whole wheat in this book, and I really wanted to do a half-half. So did a  biga starter today using 2 cups white and 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, figuring I'd use the white sandwich loaf recipe and adapt it using around 40% ww flour. Any advice on this?

Cheers

Lisa

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Greetings, bakers,


Tonight for dinner we had salad and the 'Rosettes of Venice' rolls from Carol Field's The Italian Baker.  I don't know why I never tried them before, but they were fabulous!  The recipe wants 500g of biga, and I had 486g of biga in the freezer, so I declared that was enough biga to attempt these.  They take about 5-ish hours from start to finish.  They look like hole-less bagels or kaiser rolls, but are much softer than either of those...maybe the 1/2 cup of olive oil had something to do with it.  The recipe said you should get 12 to 14 rolls, but I made only 8.  At that size, they'd make wonderful sandwich rolls, which I intend to verify tomorrow.


 



 


Soft and tasty, with just enough sugar to notice.  They're glazed with egg white, and I decided they also would benefit from a sprinkle of sesame or poppy seeds, and just enough kosher salt to give them a little bite.


 



 


To make the biga:


Mix by hand, mixer, or food processor:


1/4 tsp. active dry yeast


1/4 cup warm water


3/4 cup plus 1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. room temp. water (weird measurement, I agree)


330g unbleached all-purpose flour


Let the yeast stand in the warm water about 10 minutes.  Add remaining water, then the flour, a cup at a time.  Rise the biga in a covered bowl at room temp. for 6 to 24 hours.  Then you can refigerate or freeze it till you need it, or you could use it immediately after it's risen, I suppose.


 


To make the rosettes:


1 tsp. active dry yeast


2 Tb. warm water


1/2 cup olive oil (the recipe wants 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup olive oil)


3 Tb. sugar


500g biga


300g unbleached all-purpose flour


5g salt


1 beaten egg white for glazing


Combine yeast and 2 Tb. water in a large bowl.  Let stand about 10 minutes.  Add oil, sugar, and biga.  Mix by hand or in a mixer till biga and liquids are fairly well blended.  Add flour and salt and mix or knead until dough comes together.  Knead by hand (8-10 minutes) or mixer (3-4 minutes on low speed) until dough is moist and elastic.  I used a Bosch mixer, and on low speed, the dough really didn't come together well.  After a couple of minutes, I finished kneading it by hand.


Put the dough in a bowl rise, covered with plastic or whatever.  Let rise about 2 hours, at approx. 75 degrees F.


 


Shaping:


Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat or roll to 3/4 inch thick (mine were thinner, maybe 1/2 inch).  Use whatever you have to cut out a circle of dough, about 3-5 inches in diameter, depending on whether you want small rolls or sandwich buns.  Here's the tricky part, so read it a few times:


Assuming you're right handed, place your left thumb at the 9 o'clock position of the dough circle, with the end of the thumb in the middle of the circle.  Use the other hand to roll the dough from the 12 o'clock position down to the thumb.  Rotate the dough clockwise until the left 'point' of the roll that you just made is at the 12 o'clock position.  Place your left thumb again at 9 o'clock and roll that section of the dough down again toward your thumb.  Rotate and repeat the rolling until you have a sort of kaiser-type of roll shape, with leaves or petals of dough on top of the roll, or whatever you can describe them as.  Press down the middle of the roll to ensure the 'leaves' stay put.  I decided that as long as the rolls weren't flat, I was in the ballpark.  I didn't take photos of this step, since, not knowing how yummy they'd be, I had no idea I'd be posting anything!


Place the rolls on a lightly oiled or parchment covered baking sheet.  Cover with plastic or a towel, and let rise till doubled, approx. 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.  In the last 15-20 minutes of the rise, turn the oven on to 400F.  When the oven is ready, brush the rolls with beaten egg white.  Add any toppings you desire.  Bake about 20 minutes.  I rotated the pan halfway through baking.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!


Sue


 


 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

My wife's christmas present was a baking course at the Lighthouse Bakery, a small bakery focussing on teaching and some wholesale.


We were 4 participants and made some wonderful breads out of 5 different doughs using biga, rye sourdough, sponge, poolish and pate fermentee.


The most surprising and spectacular of the breads we made was the pugliese, which is also the "signature" loaf of the Lighthouse Bakery.


Liz and Rachel, who run the bakery, are happy for the formula to be shared, so here it is:


finished loaf


This bread is made with strong flour, water, salt and yeast, and yet has a sweetish, creamy crumb. It keeps well and is still excellent as toast 4 days after baking (given it survives that long).


Here is the formula:


Biga


The biga can be stored in the fridge and keeps for a week.


Ingredient Weight(g) Percent
Strong White Flour 500 100
Water 350 70
Fresh yeast 4 0.8

Mix and ferment at room temperature for at least 1 hour (until the yeast gets going), then put it into the fridge overnight. It will expand further, so choose an appropriate bowl.

Here a picture of the biga after 1 night in the fridge (the surface scraped off):

biga

 

Dough

The given amounts make 1 loaf.

Ingredient Weight(g) Percent
Strong White Flour 500 100
Water 340 68
Biga 100 20
Salt 10 2
Fresh yeast 4.5 0.9

Mix and work the dough.

Our teachers recommend to use a mixer: 5min on medium speed and 5min on high speed.

I have no mixer; but I got great results with Bertinet's slap and fold technique.

Bulk ferment for about 3 hours (until trebled in size).

Preheat oven to 220C.

Shape into boule, be careful not to handle the dough too hard, it's quite sloppy at this stage.

Avoid using flour on the worktop.

Put the dough onto a baking parchament for the final proof (about 1 hour, check with the finger test).

Here a picture of the boule after final proof, it spreads a bit, which is not a bad thing:

proofed

Then dust it with flour and dimple it with your fingertips - a bit like captain Nemo playing the organ in his submarine.

Here is the result, ready to go into the oven:

dimpled

Rather flat.

But the oven spring is quite amazing, and on the course when the oven door opened there was an astonished Ooooh in unison.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 220C without steam.

The result is the first picture in this post, here a shot of the crumb:

crumb

It needs to rest a couple of hours after baking, the taste improves a lot and you are rewarded for your patience.

I hope you enjoy making this bread as much as I do,

Juergen

 

tansyandfern's picture

first time biga

February 27, 2011 - 5:57am -- tansyandfern

I posted this pic under comments somewhere but I am posting it again because I am so happy with the results!


This was my first time using a pre-ferment.  All my past bread baking as been more about speed and convenience.  Basically, I love a fresh loaf but couldn't commit to the time!  


So glad I did this last night because I will now be making it a (delicious) habit :)


cranbo's picture
cranbo

In researching another thread, came across this interesting article on preferments from Lallemand, in PDF format.


One interesting morsel:



The preferment minimizes the lag phase by providing an optimum environment for the yeast. The result is higher gas production later inthe process, especially in high-sugar doughs.



The lag phase is the "ramp up" phase that occurs before yeast reach their maximum productivity. The article has a nice chart. 


Here's another interesting one:



Yeast activation takes place during the first 30 to 60 minutes in all types of preferments. Longer preferment times are not necessary for yeast activation, and can have a negative effect because yeast start to lose activity once the available sugar has been consumed. The only reason for longer preferments is for flavor contribution or dough development.



I think they're referring to the activation of commercial yeasts here (Lallemand is a commercial yeast producer, after all). Yeast activation is sourdough I think is different altogether. 


 

Scott Grocer's picture

Help adapt formula for use with levain

February 3, 2011 - 1:38pm -- Scott Grocer

I've got a formula for a nice American style pizza dough that rises in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, but I was thinking about swapping the instant dry yeast and long ferment for a levain so I could do silly stuff like make same day sub rolls or maybe even soft dinner rolls. Mostly I just wanted something to experiment with.


The problem is that I just can't seem to grasp how to adapt the formula. I was thinking about plugging say, 20% Biga (100% flour, 60% water, 0.2% yeast) into the following formula in place of the IDY:

geraintbakesbread's picture
geraintbakesbread

I had a busy day in the kitchen yesterday: as well as the semolina w/fennel bread (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21639/semolina-bread-wsoaker-amp-fennel-seed) & a Christopomos for the BBA challenge I'm participating in at http://akuindeed.com/?page_id=3099, I had a go at the ciabatta with biga.

I used some Italian '00' flour that I haven't used before:



Protein content is 11%. Reading through other posts at http://mellowbakers.com/index.php?board=67.0 (again, after I'd baked!), it sounds like Hamelman's recipes are geared to stronger American flours. I might give this another go using Doves Farm Organic White (12.5% protein) for comparison (I realise it's not just protein levels that determine gluten quality).

I don't have a mixer so kneading higher hydration doughs can be a challenge. I often use Dan Lepard's no knead method, but wanted to get this done fairly quickly & also wanted to see how well I could manage by hand. I made use of a tip I've picked up along the way, i.e. starting off with less water until the gluten is fairly well developed, then gradually adding the rest. I began by mixing the dough at 65% hydration; this was still very wet, so I used the French method of kneading that I'm sure many of you are familiar with (if not, video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvdtUR-XTG0).


I did this for about 15mins before incorporating the biga, and 10mins later, the rest of the water, which took a further 10.

I performed the folds at 1 & 2hrs, & scaled at 3x500g after 3hrs and left them to proove on floured boards. I somehow missed the bit saying: cover with linen & then plastic, and just used plastic, which was a bit sticky when it came to uncovering them 2hrs later!

Then came the bit which confuses me slightly: Hamelman writes about how fragile they are & not to sneeze near them & yet you're supposed to perform a flip?! Needless to say, they degassed considerably during this operation:



I don't know why I followed this procedure with all three; I wish now I'd baked one without flipping to see how it differed.They all baked well, one after the other, with almost no discernible difference in final appearance, in spite of the fact the last one went in an hour and a half after the first.



I was really pleased with the crust, but a little disappointed with the hole size/distribution. It was good to eat though: I ate half a loaf straight away!



More images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgratch13/sets/72157625835166834/

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - biga