The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tuscan bread - add yeast to biga?

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Tuscan bread - add yeast to biga?

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.

Crider's picture
Crider

Actual Pane Toscano uses the old-dough method of saving some leftover dough to make tomorrow's bread. 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Reinhardt calls for a biga with no yeast, using boiling water, and leaving it out overnight.

This is a hot soaker that must be cooled down. There must be some form of yeast or starter after that, or there won't  be any leavening agent.

 

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Yes, I'm just wondering whether to add yeast to the biga (which would obviously mean not using boiling water) or just to do the soaker method as called for by Reinhardt and adding the yeast later.

michael p's picture
michael p

Not all breads use an overnight biga/starter.  Not sure you're reading the recipe correctly - I'm making the Reinhart right now and it uses the boiling water/flour "soaker" which is the terminology for soaking grains in a liquid for a period of time. But it doesn't call for a biga.

This soaker is then mixed the next day with flour/yeast/olive oil for a more traditional one-day rise type bread.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

oops.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Pre-ferments include biga, poolish, sponge, old dough, etc. Partial mixes include soaker, mash, scald, etc. Not everything that's done separately is a biga. I've not heard a soaker called a biga before, and without looking at the books myself I'm a bit confused.

I just looked in my copy of Carol Field's "The Italian Baker". Her recipe for Saltless Tuscan Bread uses what she calls a "starter" (nothing to do with sourdough:-), which looks to me like something in between a biga and a sponge. (Her book uses a whole lot of bigas  ..but not for this particular recipe.)

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Sorry for the sloppy terminology. Reinhart does call his a "flour paste," not a biga. Not sure if this link will work but you should be able to see the page on Google Books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=yHGBOXSNogsC&pg=PA259&lpg=PA259&dq=reinhart+tuscan+biga+boiling&source=bl&ots=tWE0j_GrD5&sig=cifm_X1KRE1uzoS9ozau5jf7...

I'm just wondering if the use of boiling water and the absence of yeast would somehow contribute something to the flavor or texture of the finished bread that would be missing by using a traditional biga. I guess the easy way to find out is by making it both ways.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

The hot soaker introduces a small amount of sugars, but for the yeasts, not for you:-) The gelatinization also delays staling for a while.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

First time around, last night, I followed Leader's recipe. It came out well, rose nicely with a small, regular hole structure and relatively soft crust. I made two loaves, one for a friend who can't have sodium, one for my family, which we'll have with a bean soup tonight. If it's good I'll try it again with the soaker and see if there's any significant difference.