The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Biga

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mirella's picture
mirella

Biga

I am making bread once a week with 3  and 1/2 cups of flour and using 2 tsp of yeast. I bake it in a cast iron skillet and it gives it a nice fragrance. I would like to try with a biga, but all the recipes are for a lot of bread, and I need only a biga for one bread. Can anybody give me a recipe for one biga for one bread?   Also how do i find out or calculate the hydration of the biga ????

Thank you

LisaE's picture
LisaE

Hi Mirella,

I have made a Peter Reinharts 100% Whole Wheat sandwich loaf which called for a biga. I guess if I wanted to adapt it to another loaf I would take a portion of the flour, add half the amount of water (by weight) and add about 1/8 tsp instant yeast. Let that sit overnight in the fridge (going by Peter Reinharts recipe) and next day use it in the recipe with remaining parts of flour and water. Cut it into small pieces before mixing it into the final dough, it will be difficult to mix.

I am far from being a qualified baker, but isn't baking all about trial and error? Try it and adjust next time if it isn't perfect. Maybe someone else with more experience will chime in.

Lisa

bob13's picture
bob13

My basic biga formula is 100% flour, 60% water, 1.5% yeast.  If you want to make a recipe using a biga I'd start with this formula, subtract the actual amounts you use in the biga from the weight called for in the total recipe, add the remaining quanities after a 12 hour resting period for the biga and mix away.  After a loaf or two you'll know if any adjustments are needed, but this is a good place to start.  This is an excellent example of how important using bakers formula and keeping good notes on each loaf are.  You'll know what you did and if needed where to adjust the mixture without having to quess.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

If you use a scale I have recipes for bread that uses a biga. They all use some whole wheat flour - one with 20% whole wheat flour (as part of the total flour weight), one with 25% and one with 30%. They are in a spreadsheet, so, if you tell me how many loaves in a baking you want to make and what the weight of each loaf should be, I can post it here or send the recipe(s) to you in a PM.

The biga I make is 67% hydration. I will include the ingredient list for the amount of biga you would want depending on what recipe you chose. BTW, I make a large amount of biga and freeze it (usually in 12 oz portions) for future baking. If you're interested in this approach, you might want to check out this thread - http://m.thefreshloaf.com/node/24718/50-whole-wheat-bread

Looking forward to hearing from you - SF

========= PS ===========

Also I have a recipe for bread that uses 50% whole wheat flour (plus a large % of biga). I usually stay with the smaller amount of whole wheat flour, so I haven't made this one in a long time. But I can post it if you're interested.

mirella's picture
mirella

Thank you, the amount of flour I want to use is 3 and 1/2 cup, so I get a nice size bread but not to much to have to bake two loaf.  The bread bakes well in a 10 inches cast iron skillet. The bread is all white  , I use bread flour and add 2 or 3 TBSP of vital gluten.  The reason i want to try the biga is because I read that to get a bread with lots of holes starting  with the biga is recommended. I like the real italian bread that has many holes , but it's still soft and light  inside and not hard and chewy like ciabatta.  So the bread after is baked should feel very light  and should not crumble after a day or two . If anyone has some experience I will welcome any advices.

Thank you,

Mirella

 

LisaE's picture
LisaE

Hi Mirella,

I think that fermenting your flour definitely adds an amazing amount of flavor. But what you just described as your goal is achieved with kneading. I don't suppose you have a sourdough? Look up txfarmer's blog and you'll discover the magic of intensive gluten development. I have made several recipes using her kneading technique and the bread is always soft and yes....shreddable! I have a white bread recipe that I created but it uses sourdough as well as yeast. The key is sticky dough and intesinve kneading. Check this link to see what I mean. I will try to find a good recipe that does not call for sourdough and post it. Again the key is the gluten development to achieve light, moist crumb and the sourdough helps it stay fresh for days!

Sourdough Pan de Mie

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

...not volume, so it appears that my recipes are not useful for you.

Alpana's picture
Alpana

I also use Peter Reinhart's formula like Lisa for making biga and it works fine. I am sure there are many other good formulas and all work equally well. Which formula you use is not so much important as how you use it. From my experience, it is better to work with scale and weight measurements till you get the feel of the dough. Weights make it much easier to stick to given formulas or if we want to play with the formulas. Once you get the feel of the dough, you can rely on your judgement on how the final bread will turn out. Even then I would say stick with weight to start and then adjust by feel. It is much faster this way and you can also record your results easily. Measuring by cups is ok if you know your dough, but if you are following a fourmula or recipe without adjustment, weights are your best bet for consistent results.

If you are using 100% bread flour, VWG will be counter productive. It will make the bread tough as BF is already high in gluten. Use VWG only if you use low gluten flour in high percentage in your bread. 

For open crumb, play with the hydration of your dough. No need to go as high as ciabatta, but you can try somewhere around 70% hydration and work upwards or downwards from there.

High hydration breads will not crumble soon, but they will not be very soft either. If you want soft breads that do not crumble you can try tangzhong method or gelatinizing flour. You can search on this site or google for details. These will give you soft, Japanese style breads. You can use them as starting point and experiment by increasing water till it gives you a bread which balances between open crumb and softness. Home baking is all about our personal likes.

Happy baking, Mirella, and do keep us posted.