The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

using biga, poolish etc?

avatrx1's picture

using biga, poolish etc?

I know how to use a biga when the full amount is required for the completion of the bread making, but when you make enough for several loaves (the Team USA bread), how do you measure it?  Does it deflat in the fridge or would you stir it down before you measured it?  I hope this question makes some sense.

proth5's picture

but this is where I repeat the party line "That's why we weigh our ingredients"

Especially in this case.  How do you measure this thing volumetrically?  It will deflate even as you measure it, which suggests that  you might want to stir it enough to deflate it before you measure.

I do not have the formula in question, but if you have been given only volumetric measurements, the formula writer should state how you should procede.

Sorry if this sounds harsh.  But this is truely a case where weight measurements are far superior to volume measurements.

avatrx1's picture

I actually do weigh my ingredients but this was confusing to me.

I'm mostly an amateur.  I read about the water content and I have no idea how people come up with that.  I bake lots of bread and have had good luck with taste - I just can't seem to freeform my loaves and get them risen enough.  They always spread out unless I bake them in a preheated pan.

I'm just trying to learn............



proth5's picture

your ingredients you are doing fine. 

And the volumetric measurement is confusing.  As I said, if an author wants to publish formulas that use abiguous measurements, the measurement technique should be explained. 

I don't use any formulas that give volumetric measurements, but in this case, if you want to use volume, I would stir down a preferment if it was 100% hydration (equal parts by weight of water and flour).

Freeform is tricky.  You might want to try less time for the final ferment.  Or put more tension into your shaping.

Some other things to try might be allowing the final ferment (proof) to happen in the refrigerator - this will lend some body to the dough.  Or you may wish to work at a lower hydration.  You might not want to try either of these two things foreveras they do involve tradeoffs, but they can help you get a few successful loaves baked until you become more proficient.

And you just takes practice.

dghdctr's picture

Good to hear that you weigh your ingredients.

Try using King Arthur AP flour if you don't already.  It's actually stronger than most "bread flours" I've seen in supermarkets, and you don't have to mix it excessively to get enough gluten development.  I'm not saying other flours can't work - I'm just saying that if you have problems with dough performance and you know your yeast is healthy, we might want to start with a flour that you know will work and doesn't require extended mixing.

Especially if you knead by hand, try using sets of folds over an extended fermentation period to increase the gluten development and achieve greater dough strength.  A hand-kneaded dough could probably use 5 or 6 sets of folds over 4 to 5 hours.

Folds work with machine-mixed doughs, too, but you don't need as many sets -- maybe 2 sets over 1.5 to 2 hours if you think the dough needs it, or 3 sets if it is seriously underdeveloped.

That might help enough right there, but you should make sure the skin on the outside of your loaf is pulled fairly taut down toward the seam.  That will give you the best height possible with the dough you have.

Let us know if things get better.

--Dan DiMuzio

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I read about the water content and I have no idea how people come up with that.

Take the weight of the water and divide by the weight of the flour and then multiply by 100% to get the %.

Example 1) 100g water divided by 100g flour is 1      1 x 100%= 100% hydration

Example 2) 65g water divided by 100g flour is 0.65      0.65 x 100%=  65% hydration

If you are using oz. weights, remember to convert first, multiply all the lbs. first by 16 and add to the oz. before dividing dry into wet.