The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough texture: biga vs poolish?

Aloftus's picture

Dough texture: biga vs poolish?

Hi everyone - 

This is just for my own edification. I’m making Ken Forkish’s 80% biga white bread today and I noticed that the texture is very sticky, but also smooth and pliable. Definitely the easiest and most enjoyable to work with so far. I looked at the percentages and saw it was 75% hydration, so I figured that explained it. 

However...all his breads are high-hydration (like 75-80%). Including the white bread with poolish I made last weekend. Is the difference in dough texture to do with the type of pre-ferment used, or is it due to other variables? 

Thank you! 

BaniJP's picture

There are so many factors that can affect dough texture and pre-ferment is just one of them. Others can be hydration, flour and protein quality, salt content, water hardness, mixing time, proofing time, mixing type (hand or machine) etc. etc.

The four most common preferments are sourdough starter, poolish, sponge and biga:

Sourdough you probably know already ;)
Poolish is the most common pre-ferment in white breads, such as baguettes, ciabatta etc.
Sponge is usually used for sweeter pastries like croissants, brioche etc.
Biga is basically the same as poolish, but more often used for Italien baked goods such as pizza dough, ciabatta, but also panettone etc.

And of course they all can vary in hydration, flour quality, amount of yeast, proofing time.

Maverick's picture

My understanding is that a poolish will add more extensibility than a biga (so it will spread more). I haven't tested them side by side, but that is what I remember reading.