Can you use a well developed BIGA in ANY recipe/formula when the recipe does not fall for one? If so, how much do you subtract from the dough recipe to make room for the Biga?
Yes! A BIGA can be used in pretty much any bread recipe. It's basically just doing a preferment of a portion of the dough. Just like using a sourdough starter, but in this case with yeast instead. Might fluctuate from recipe to recipe but I would try between 30-50% of total weight for the Biga. Higher side for whole wheat. You should also make the biga have the same target hydration as the final dough so when mixed with the remaining ingredients the following day that your hydration is not altered.
Steven, thanks so very much for your reply to my qustion about using Biga in ANY loaf. Much help! Jim
If I start making the biga by using a given percent (say 25, 30, 35, or 40) of each of the ingredients in the total recipe, wouldn't that automatically produce the same level of hydration in the biga as in the finished mix of all ingredients of the dough?
Next: I am considering letting the biga age unrefrigerated for 24-48 hours (as suggested in the "Biga Universal" recipe in the book, "The Italian Baker." You see any concern in that? Thanks again! Jim
I just write out the final ingredients, e.g. for ciabatta: 500 g flour, 400 g water,10g salt,1g yeast. Then I assign part of that to the pre-ferment. These days I like stiff bigas, so I might do 400g flour, 200g water, and a pinch of yeast for that, and add the rest when I make up the dough.
You can do pre-ferments at many different hydrations. The typical range is 50-100 percent. To be annoyingly pedantic, what you propose -- using the same % of all ingredients, is a "pâte fermentée." More here: https://www.chainbaker.com/preferments/
The concern with unrefrigerated rest is over-fermenting. Whatever you make should be in a container that lets you easily track the dough. If you want the per-ferment sitting longer you can start with a tiny amount of yeast, but under home conditions it's hard to predict how long it will need.
Thanks much for replying to my note about using poolish in ANY recipe. Much help. Jim
Nowadays I do a 100% preferment (yes with all the flour of a dough) in a biga (not a dough yet) with around 50% hydration for my baguettes. I have done this with either instant yeast or with fruit water respectively. When I am ready to turn it into a dough, I just add the rest of the liquid and salt and off I go to make bread.
Thanks much for your reply. I apreciated it.
I use both levain and poolish in most breads I make. I generally keep both at 100% hydration AND I almost always use ALL of both preferments, recipe be damned. So the math is pretty easy. Just subtract 1/2 the actual weight of each from both the required flour and water for the final dough.
If you’re using different hydrations for biga, levain and final dough you just need to know how much flour and liquid components to subtract from the final dough ingredients in order to maintain the desired dough hydration.