20 July 2010

Making a Biga

First off, I guess I should explain just what a Biga is. When making traditional Italian bread, the biga acts as a starter and is added to your regular dough recipe. It not only enhances the flavor, but it also affects the texture by giving the bread a lighter texture and giving it bigger holes (instead of the much smaller holes found in other breads). I need to note here that this is not a classic biga, which is taken from the unsalted dough of the bread you would have made previously and Thus can be a subject for another article.

photo of my biga

There are a variety of different recipes for this and I have tried several of them, but I always seem to come back to this one. It is very simple to make and only takes a few minutes to put together and should be made the day before you make your bread. You should also note that this is a very sticky dough.

What you need

  • Active dry yeast...¼ tsp.

  • Warm water...1 ¼ Cup

  • Bread Flour...2 Cups (if you don't have bread flour, you can substitute with all-purpose...I've made it with both)

  • Wooden spoon

  • Large bowl (this puppy is going to rise from twice to three times its original size, so keep this in mind when choosing)

  • Plastic wrap

  • Bowl scraper (used if you move biga to a new bowl)

Putting it together

  • In your bowl, add the water and the yeast

  • Let stand until foamy (Great technical term there), about 5 minutes

  • Add the flour and stir with your spoon for about 2 minutes

    • You will notice that this is a very sticky dough. You will know you have the right consistency when the dough is stringy when it comes away from the sides

  • Place plastic tightly over the bowl

    • Most recipes call for you to add your biga to another well-oiled bowl. I, however, do not have a lot of bowls lying around, so I just use the same bowl I make it in

  • Let sit on the counter for about 3 hours

  • Transfer to the refrigerator

  • Remove and let it come to room temperature before using

The photo at the top is of my first-ever biga. If you look closely, you can see how close it came to the top of the bowl.

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