I was curious to know how much a different preferment changed the final product of ciabatta bread, so I did a little experiment. I wanted to see if using a poolish vs a biga changed anything (crust, crumb, texture, flavor, ect). All variables remained constant (flour, hydration, salt content, rising periods, etc) except the preferments. Each preferment contained the same amount of flour and yeast, and each were allowed to ferment for the same time periods. As I hoped for, the final dough before baking looked and felt identical. Even after baking they looked and smelled identical. The crumbs, however, were slightly different!
The biga (above left) produced smaller holes, a slightly denser and spongier crumb, a softer crust, and a slightly nuttier flavor. The poolish (above right) produced very large holes throughout the bread, a more tender crumb, a very crunchy crust, and a milder flavor. My parents, siblings, and my neighbor with her 2 kids came over to help me test taste! Overall the ciabatta made with the biga was the fan favorite. Personally, I liked the poolish because I am very fond of the crunchier crust but they were both delicious either way! I made a little olive oil dip containing olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and garlic along with some freshly shredded parmesan cheese for everyone to put on their slice (more like slices) if they wanted. By the time everyone was finished, the olive oil and cheese were devoured and all that was left of the loaves were the ends! Needless to say I think this was a success!