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Italian Biga -- Pre-fermentation

I have a batch of whole wheat toasting bread going, which I am using to test how long it takes to do a pre-fermentation such as a poolish or biga. Last night, it took about 60 seconds -- I timed it. :-)

Most bread books say that you should let a pre-fermentation run for 3-4 hours, then refrigerate. My theory is that you start the poolish when you are doing the dishes, just before going to bed, and let it sit all night. You can either finish it in the morning, or put it in the refrigerator then to be finished later.

It's dead simple. Put 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water, plus 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in a mixer for a couple of minutes. Use the mixing beater, not the dough hook. Throw in the ingredients and mix for less than one minute until you get something that looks like pancake batter. That's it. Mix it, cover it, and just let it sit overnight. Nothing to clean.

This morning, I got up to see a bubbling batter, which I have finished into bread. It is so easy to do, and makes much better bread. For the pre-ferment, you don't have to take the measurements very seriously. Good for late night accuracy.

Give it a try. Lazy and good. Not bad.