The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

A quick question for the experts.....

aroma's picture

A quick question for the experts.....

I usually make my bread using an overnight sponge - 100% hydration (technically a Poolish).  I want to try a Biga to see the difference.  So, assuming the total flour is 1000g, how much of my sourdough starter should I use in an overnight biga.

Thanks in advance


tomdrum's picture

that depends primarily on the temperature of your biga at the end of mixing and ambient tempearture of its environment during fermentation; and of course how long exactly it will ferment for and how active your mother is. Assuming a twelve hour fermentation and a daily refreshed mother dough with "comfortable" ambient conditions I would start at around 14% and see how it goes.  This is working on the assuption that by bigga you mean a 50% hydration dough.

After it has had its 12 hours of fermentation inspect it, has it double, tripled, coming up or coming down? How does it taste?

It should be around triple its original volume, perhaps starting to come down and have a distinct acidic tang but not taste in any way unpleasant.

If its not moved enough after its 12 hours add more sourdough next time, if its moved to far reduce the quantity of sourdough.





AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Are normally reserved for using baker's yeast. These preferments were a way to get flavour when not using sourdough. A sourdough starter is just a sourdough starter whatever the hydration. 

When it comes to how much you've gotta take into consideration the end result. I'd take into account flavour and time. 

More flavour = less starter

Less time = more starter


More hydration = more tangy

Less hydration = more mellow


So you have time and hydration to balance here to. 


You'll have to find the balance here. I usually do 10-30% of the flour added. Ranging from tangy to mild. But by all means there are no right nor wrongs just your preferred taste. You may do more starter if you wish. Less and I'll say you're getting into quite bitter and too much time. And of course adjust the fermentation times accordingly. As a guide... Double for bulk fermentation and 85-90% (just under doubled) for final proofing. 

I'm no expert. Just a another avid amateur baker. 

dabrownman's picture

levain is stiff or liquid when it comes to the amount,  Here in AZ in the summer, 10% pre-fermented flour is the max if you are going to retard  bulk or shaped for 12 hours or more regardless of hydration,  In the winter, I can go to 15-20%.   If the levain is built to be active with an overnight timeline then it doesn't matter if it is liquid or stiff,  Colder climes mean you can use more and or,if you want to get it all done in a day without retards ,then you can use more too.  I just did a one day using 20% pre-fermented flour when it was hot for the slims post yesterday.

Happy baking 

aroma's picture

.... I think I will start with 10% refreshed culture in a 65% hydration biga and hope that the dough hasn't climbed out of the bowl by morning.