The Fresh Loaf

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90% biga @ 80% hydration

jl's picture

90% biga @ 80% hydration

I don't consume a whole lot of white bread, but I've been fascinated by the 90% biga loaf recipe for quite a while now. I've been making 50% biga bread every once in a while, but yesterday decided to try it again to see whether increasing the hydration would help get rid of the lumps.

When pre-fermenting only 50% of the flower, I usualy just leave the bowl on the counter. This one I tried to make by the book: dissolve yeast in water, pour over flour, shake.

It's not supposed to rise a whole lot. After 14h @ 14 °C it looked like this:


I kneaded it in the mixer (Kitchenaid with a spiral dough hook) at this point to incorporate all the dry flour. Then I added some water to get to 65% hydration. After that I added 5% at a time all the way to 80%. At 75% the lumps were barely noticable and they disappeared entirely at 80% hydration. The dough was fairly loose at this point. Had to fold the dough puddle immediately:

With a 50% biga the dough feels quite a bit stronger, but with enough folds this is becomes manageable:


Was expecting shaping to be more difficult.

The hardest part about this is deciding when to bake it. The dough has no structure if divided too early. It would be impossible to shape. When divided late, there are so many large bubbles trapped inside, it's hard to tell if it's past peak gas retention point. I think these could have proofed a bit longer.

The best thing about a biga is that no matter what you do, it always seems to produce a tall loaf.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think I could tell a difference between a 50% and a 90% biga loaf, tastewise. 50% biga bread is more cottony, while this feels a little more like enriched bread. Need to come up with a way to compare them side by side.






mwilson's picture

Great looking bread inside and out! Nice creamy off-white colour to the crumb, assertive alveoli, crisp crust and good attention to the process.

A very nice post with nice pictures.

Thanks for sharing!


jl's picture

You're too kind.

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

I've never seen a 90% biga bread before. Interesting process. It looks great and I bet it had good eating qualities, too. I must add it to my lengthy bake list.

jl's picture

And be sure to read the discussion in the post that introduced it. 

Benito's picture

Looks great to me, I’ve never tried biga at anything this high a percentage before.


jl's picture

It should be possible to make it with sourdough. Care to try? :D

Abe's picture

Done 100% sourdough biga. The flavour was fantastic and the method simple. 

Very lovely bake indeed. Looks delicious.