The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Did anyone do Abel's 90% Biga using Sourdough Starter?

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

Did anyone do Abel's 90% Biga using Sourdough Starter?

If so, can you guide me through your process with your thoughts on the recipe when using sourdough starter?

Any tips and ideas?

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Abe,

hope this helps.  my write up posted with a few lessons learned, and formula normalized to 1000g

Alan

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

As you know I tried it once with not much success as I found the final dough lumpy and difficult to form. I promised myself to return to the recipe and try again but realised I've been putting it off afraid of failure. But the only way i'll succeed is to try again. Very helpful! And your photo of the Biga is exactly what I needed to see too.

albacore's picture
albacore

I had - and continue to have - great success with the yeasted biga version, but the levain version I made was a disappointment, with poor loft and a tight crumb.

I think there was probably some dough degradation in the biga - maybe it was too warm; I've decided that long SD ferments are an accident waiting to happen - a fine balance of levain %age, starter health (activity and acidity), time and temperature.

BTW, you might want to up the biga hydration somewhat. Without a spiral mixer you will struggle to incorporate the post-biga water - but then I guess you already know that!

Lance

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

The issues you describe when making a levain version very much describes my experience when I tried it. However I wish to try it again and make little changes. 

It's quite warm here and I don't think the required temps will be possible. So I plan on reducing the levain from 45g to 15g and putting the 15g water and 15g flour back into the main dough. It's around 27°C here and it'll be hotter in the kitchen. Advice on how much to reduce it by will be welcome. 

One of my biggest issues was incorporating the biga when making the main dough. Thanks for the advice for increasing the hydration. The reduced levain should help with the 15g water going back into the main dough and I also plan on soaking it in just the water first before adding the extra flour. I'll up it more if necessary. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

This style of baking simply won't work at 27C and reducing the levain might seem like a suitable workaround but there more to it than that. Dough degrades all on its own even without an SD culture in the mix. The action is enzymatic and higher temperatures will accelerate the process. The biga mustn't exceed 18C for this to be effective.

Also Abel neglected to mention that the sourdough used to inoculate this biga is of the lievito madre type which roughly equates to what is referred to by American bakers as a "young levain" and should be highly active.

The flour used for the biga needs to be not too high in ash (no more than type 0 equivalent) and strong above W300 which could be around 13% protein. Sometimes with the sourdough version of the biga salt is included at 0.1-0.2%.

Lance, Abe. I hope this extra info helps you both..

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Do you see a way around this? The only thing I can think of is cold water and some salt in the biga but other than that I'm not sure. Do you think it'll work as a long ferment in the fridge? If so, how would I adjust the recipe? 

Just started one of two builds for the levain. Thanks for getting back quickly so I know to keep an eye on it and won't let it go beyond peaking tomorrow. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

It's tricky. Definitely use the salt and some fridge time. As I realised a few years ago the only real solution was to invest in a wine fridge.

Good luck.

Now I must get back to my uni work on measuring SO2 in wine.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Will do just that! Study well :)

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

Hi friends. I've done this "biga sourdough" some times, but you get more constant results with yeast. If you are not sure about how your biga preferment arrives to the mixing process, you can add some active malt. It helps.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

The biga is made. Put it in the fridge for a few hours and I'll find a cool place in the house so it can come to the right temperature over the 12-14 hours. Difficult to control the temperature but better a tad too low than too high. 

Wish me luck. 

albacore's picture
albacore

Thank you Michael And Abel. I'm starting to think that there is a sweet spot temperature of 16 - 18C for SD biga. Given that SD has a more limited temperature range for activity compared to yeast, much lower than 16C and you won't get any worthwhile fermentation, much above 18C and you are on the road to mush.

I feel a peltier module addition to my proving box coming on! Thereagain, I might not need it too often in deepest Lancahire!

What do you think of This Biga Recipe from Abel's guru Ezio Marinato? The biga hydration seems a bit high? I was thinking of using manitoba flour in the biga at 45% hydration and rimacinata in the main dough with an overall hydration of 65% - on the grounds that I've read that a 100% rimacinata  loaf can be a bit solid. I've got some Divella rimacinata to try (no Kronos, I'm afraid - 15kg sack!).

 

Lance

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

Biga requires very strict range of temperatures and times for the right maturation. If it's too hot and you cannot be sure you will be in this range of time and temperature, you can use some salt in the biga to delay the maturation. If you wanna make biga and let it mature more than one day, you can store it in fridge after the first day of maturation.

Another thing that you can do, specially if you make biga with a not very strong flour, is adding some active malt to the final mix, 10 grams per kilo of flour, or less.

Have a nice baking day.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Write up and verdict later. Now it's cooling.