The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Biga to Dough Ratio

  • Pin It
javajavabug's picture
javajavabug

Biga to Dough Ratio

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

In Italy a traditional biga (40-50% hydration, long, cool ferment) was used as a way to reinforce naturally weak flour. It may be that your final dough has gained too much strength, especially if you're using bread flour, resulting in the tough texture.

Biga can use up to 80% the total flour. Unlike a poolish, because of its stiff consistency and therefore reduced protease activity Biga can be used at very high percentages.

I would suggest cutting half or even all of the flour in the final dough with pastry flour. Or yes, perhaps use less of the biga but at the expense of some flavour and activity.

Michael

javajavabug's picture
javajavabug

Thank you so much for your advice! 

I think my dough might have gained too much strength, and I did use bread flour for both the biga and the dough. I also let the biga ferment in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The biga really does have a nice flavor. I'd hate to loose that flavor by cutting down on the biga too much. Using a weaker flour might just do the trick. :)

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Whether biga, or poolish, I usually go with about a third of the recipe's flour in the preferment.

...Just because that seems to be the amount used in some/most of the recipes I've tried, when I started baking bread.

javajavabug's picture
javajavabug

Thank you so much for your help!

I thought about cutting back on the biga as well. There are so many different options! Thank you for your advice. :)

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

think that there any hard and fast rule.  isand66's latest Mullti-grain  SD take 2 bread with soaker that was 50% of the dough and it was just fantastic looking for both crust and crumb.  I asked him about the high biga amounts and his reply was:

'I'm following the lead of Peter Reinhart from his last book ABED. I find this technique works very well and allows for long fermentation times in the fridge. '

Some say 30 to 40% is the right amount for SD flavor.  It depends on your starter, flour, technique and retardation if any.

25 to 50% definitely works well, depending on the bread - so there is no hard fas rule and mwilson and I agree.

Here is a pix of Ian's latest multigrain at 50% biga.  And a link to his post if you wnat to see his recipe adn method.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/28218/multigrain-sourdough-act-2

javajavabug's picture
javajavabug

Wow, that picture is gorgeous! Thank you so much for your help and asking your friend about the ratios. I've heard of Peter Reinhart, and I just checked out some of his books on Amazon. Thank you so much for the lead and advice! :)


dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

himself but he went to China yesterday and that will take a whole day just to get there and the Internet access there is either blocked, limited or just not available depending on where you are.  You are most welcome

Bake on

javajavabug's picture
javajavabug

Thanks everyone for the advice! I'm very happy with the way the bread turned out. I used less biga and a higher quality flour. That seemed to do the trick. The next obstacle to overcome is getting a thicker, more chewy crust.  

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

says.  When you think it is done, let it bake another 5 minutes.  I would add to get a thermometer with a probe and turn off the oven when the middle of the loaf hits 205 F.   Then turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the bread rest on the stone inside the oven another 10-12 minutes.  Next thing you know you have a thick dark crust that is crunchy when it finally comes out of the oven but as it cools goes chewy as if by magic.  It's about that easy.  Yours just looks a tad underbaked but what great bread you made anyway!

Bake On

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"When you think it's done, let it bake another 5 minutes."      

Actually the olive breads I've seen are rather "blond."  They often get toasted or grilled.  So I'd say it's perfect!  :)

javajavabug's picture
javajavabug

Thank you! I plan to make paninis — a lot of them! 

Strange thing though, my instant read reached 201°F when I pulled the bread out. The oven temperature was 375°F. Next time, I'll add 5 more minutes of baking time and maybe increase the oven temperature. I still want a chewier crust, but I'm very pleased with the softness of the bread. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

trying to figure out who said it!!!  It is so true.  Never made olive bread since the rest of the family hate them, but will put it on my list.  Nancy Silverman's olive bread she made on Masters with Julia Child many years ago  was nicely brown and crunchy.  But that was before panninis :-)  Panninis do sound appropriate for this bread.

Maybe someone will claim these words of bread wisdom and save me some grief trying to solve the quote mystery.