The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ken Forkish's 80% Biga Bread

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

Ken Forkish's 80% Biga Bread

I've been making this bread for a good few months now, it's become my standard loaf. However in the past couple of weeks I've changed a few of things and it's really improved the crumb structure of the bread.Strange setting I know, but the light outside was better!

1st I went from trying to get the dough as tight and round as possible during the folds to trying to just do 4 really good folds each time.

2nd I put the yeast in warm water before mixing it, whereas before I'd put it in dry (I know, I know... baker's 101!).

3rd I switched flours from a standard white bread flour from the supermarket to some French T65 I bought from a bakery.

4th, though I don't know how much effect this had - I dissolved my salt in water as my salt mill broke the night before and I only had coarse salt left.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

That loaf looks delicious!

How are you finding Forkish's timing? A lot of people have trouble with his fermenting and proofing times. They work for me but not for a lot of other people. 

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

Thanks! I was over the moon when I cut into the loaf and saw that crumb. To be honest FWSY has been the best bread book for me by a long way. I started out with Baker's Apprentice, then this, and I've also tried Hammelman's 'Bread' Book, but the results I get from Forkish's bread blows the others out of the water.

The only problem I find with his timing is I'm basically stuck at home until about 4pm each Saturday - but then these are the sacrifices we make!

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

- love it. well done

Leslie

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

Thanks Leslie

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Well done! It sounds like that's what you were striving for, so you must be really happy with that one. Personally, I don't prefer the big holes (everything falls through the holes!) so I've gone back to a lower hydration dough.

I suspect the biggest game changer here was the flour. Where do you live? I live in Canada so have the advantage of good strong bread flour, but just spent six weeks in the UK and found the supermarket flour there to be very challenging. I've never used French flour but have heard that it is marvelous for high hydration doughs.

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

Thanks, it was indeed what I was hoping to get. 
I live in China. The high gluten flour here is okay, certainly seems to be a bit stronger than what I was using back in the UK. 
Yes, the breads made with this flour have definitely had a more open crumb than the previous breads so you're probably on the money there

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

At some point, the crumb becomes too open. What's the point of a slice of bread that's mostly empty air?

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

For me this was about knowing that after months of trying I can make a bread that looks and behaves how I was trying to make it look and behave. So I wanted to share it with other people who've worked hard at making bread and understand the joy that this kind of success brings, especially when it's the first time it goes so well. So there's the point for me.
If you don't like this kind of bread I have no problem with that, but what I don't understand is why you chose to comment on this and tell me what took me months to achieve was pointless.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

The one thing that I love about the Fresh Loaf is that everyone appreciates the different types of breads that are posted and that one never or rarely sees the type of comment made above. I am sorry but this comment came across to me as, how can I say... agressive...bold...borderline rude.

 This site is a gem compared to other forums where people use the anonymity of internet to hide behind negative comments. Let's continue to be appreciative and supportive of each other, and follow what your mom told you: "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all!"  This doesn't mean one cannot ask questions, but there is a way of doing it (even on the net) without coming across in a negative or rude manner.

Off my soap box now and back to your regular programming. 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

What's rude is personally attacking someone who offers you constructive criticism. Most people here, I think, want to grow and learn, and honest feedback is critical to that. The most accomplished people in any field seek out criticism and receive it gratefully.

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

I am happy to learn and grow when people offer constructive feedback, but I don't feel your comment was constructive.
Regardless, I feel that as neither of us are going to see eye to eye about this, how about we stop this discussion here?

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

I would agree, it's a more friendly community than the majority you see on the internet, and I've learned a lot about baking, and read many an interesting thing here. It's a forum I'm glad to be able to come to again and again, even if I don't post so often.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

"you chose to comment on this and tell me what took me months to achieve was pointless."

So that you rethink your goals. Is a woman more attractive the more makeup and jewelry that she dons? There clearly is an optimum.

People seem to think that if an open crumb is good, then a more open crumb is better. Why? When you look at the bread produced by the best bakers in the world, you don't see such extremes.

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

Your argument seems to be based upon the assumption that your opinion is absolutely correct and my goals must be rethought or I'm wrong. In my mind food and art are similar; what each individual likes and doesn't like is entirely subjective. 

Maverick's picture
Maverick

Well done. I think the handling of the folds is the main thing that made the difference in crumb. I see this time and again. If you are using instant yeast, then it won't matter if you soak it in water. But, the fact that you used warm water will make a difference. The flour can definitely make a difference in the end product, but the large holes can be achieved with weaker flour, but the bread will be more flat. Your crumb looks like ciabatta (where soft handling is key), but you managed to get a nice round loaf. You should be very pleased with yourself.

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

Thanks, yes I think I was happy about the improvement in my form. I think it was a combination of all the factors I mentioned (except maybe the salt) that resulted in the difference between previous bakes and this one.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the loaf could get huge!  Like a beach ball, and then one could poke a hole, stick your hand or head inside and eat it from the inside out. (No crumbs all over the space ship!) If it got that big would it still be bread?

Yes, I think so.  The thinner it gets, the more it reminds me of a cracker.  Does one charge by the weight or the volume for such a delicacy?  Obviously such a light bread would be eaten for the bread's sake without any toppings, Perhaps a fine oil dip?  Or like a cream puff, a filling could be "tubed" inside the hollow cavities, set and cut as sandwich wedges.  Round loaves might make great soup bowls.  

I find the loaves inflated a lot in the oven.  Just look at the small size of the bannetons (a great find) compared to the finished loaf!   

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

I'll be in touch with NASA immediately. If you could eat the 'space puff' from the inside out in a crumbless fashion then a repeat of the infamous corned beef sandwich fiasco could be avoided! I'll be in touch when I've made my millions from NASA with a contribution.

Yes, the loaf did expand a lot in the oven. Expanded quite a lot in bulk, not too much in the final proof, but then a lot again in the oven.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

ciabatta roll that would be perfect for sandwiches sliced in half and grilled in a panini press - or dipped in EVOO with some basil, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan, and cracked black pepper.  With some fruits, berries, cheeses and cured meats it makes a whole meal to remember with a nice glass of red wine.

Well done and happy baking .

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Keeping them small, like for individual sizes is a good one.  That way the crust gives you something to hang onto while enjoying the goodies inside.  A "walk outside" meal with the ciabatta in one hand and the glass in the other.  Now I need to get my ciabatta to come out that nicely!  :)

Greggy_bread's picture
Greggy_bread

I think this one was a tad big to do as a one or two sandwiches, but it might be good to use this dough as a ciabatta in the future. 
Speaking of Olive Oil, I just got back from Italy and realised how woefully inadequate the olive oils are here... Luckily I brought some back, along with a bottle of aged Balsamic. Think I'll take your advice next bake!