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Biga Help!!! - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Biga Help!!!

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  • Biga Help!!!

    I am starting the recipe found on this site to make the Biga dough starter.
    It calls for 1/8 tsp acitve yeast, 2/3 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water.
    There is no way the water is enough.
    All I am getting is a very dry flour mix and it does not appear to have enough water. Only part of the flour actually mixed in, it has a bunch left over.
    Could there be a problem with the recipe amounts?
    Gino

  • #2
    Re: Biga Help!!!

    Originally posted by gtofani View Post
    Could there be a problem with the recipe amounts?
    Sounds like it.
    Normal dough hydration is around 65%, I would have thought to make a starter it would have to be around the 80% mark.
    The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

    My Build.

    Books.

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    • #3
      Re: Biga Help!!!

      Many starters are 100% Mine
      60gr Whole wheat flour
      60gr rye flour
      120gr water

      you don't need to add yeast to a starter as there are naturally occuring yeasts and bacteria in the flour and air.

      So mix up the above recipe and let set out covered 24 hours next day throw out 1/2 and feed with 60gr of flour mixture and 60gr water, repeat this process for five days by day five you should really start to see some activity.
      Repeat process and let sit for about an hour cover and put in fridge.

      When you want to use it it's just a matter of reactivating it and you can increase your biga by up to eight times by mixing with flour and water for your bread recipe and letting set over night. You then add this to the remaining flour knead, cut to sizes or weights let rest about 15 min shape into loaves may take up to 4 hours to proof depending on temperature and type of bread. Process in the the book the Bread Builders. Yeast can be added in a small amount to the biga to make things rise faster if you want without affecting taste however I don't remember the percentage.

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      • #4
        Re: Biga Help!!!

        Hold on there boys. Do not confuse Biga or Poolish with starter. They are not the same. Biga and Poolish are preferments. Starters are of a natural sourdough yeast type. Biga tends to be a bit dryer then a wet and sloppy Poolish but they both do the same thing. The purpose of biga and poolish is to have a percentage of dough that has fermented over time. Fermented dough will give your bread more flavor. I suggest to run the recipe as stated and see how it goes. It's not unusual for a biga to be quite dry.

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        • #5
          Re: Biga Help!!!

          Faith clearly implies this but fails to state it explicity, so I will. Biga is made with commercial yeast. If you wish to remain true to the intended flavor profile you must use commercial yeast.

          2/3 cup of flour is about 3 ounces - 1/4 cup of water is 2 ounces. So your hydration should be in the 65 % range. Not terribly dry. If your flour was packed it could reasonably be over 3 1/2 ounces and more like 57 percent which still shouldn't be super dry. While bread flour at this % would be pretty dry your protest of dryness seems too strong and suggests something more elementary is wrong.

          If you want to make bread, get a good digital scale that will measure in grams or 5 grams to 10 pounds or so. It will pay off. And convert recipes to grams. All should ultimately work better!

          Good luck!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Biga Help!!!

            Yes it's true that Biga and Poolish are made with commercial yeast. I'm sorry I failed you and failed to mention this fact. I am much better at baking then typing. I did intend to state this fact but my brain runs so much faster then my fingers on this dang keyboard. None the less I think the message was sent. Even if my post received a grade of C- Thanks for your help.

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            • #7
              Re: Biga Help!!!

              I can see both your points. According the the Book "The Bread Builders" a Biga and a Poolish (He says Poolish is the name the French give it because they believe the process came from Poland) Are different processes a Biga is made from your starter and a Poolish is actually some dough from a previous batch of bread. Also they state that a Biga can be made using either commercial yeast or starter. Commercial yeast works faster. Using starter to make the Biga or sponge as he calls it takes longer so that it has more time to ferment. Also takes longer to proof dependig on temperature. At least this is my understanding. Don't have the book right here to quote from.

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              • #8
                Re: Biga Help!!!

                Hi BG!

                There is a tendency to be really sloppy with the terms for preferments -often including relatively well trained bakers - with the result that people get confused. Suas (SFBI) acknowledges that the term biga has been bastardized to include most any preferment but it is traditionally commercial yeast and 50 to 55% hydration. Poolish is traditionally 100%. The higher hydration of the poolish leads to more extensible dough by encouraging the action of protease which breaks down bread protein. The lower hydration of biga slows both the yeast and the protease. Bigas are traditionally fermented for 18 hours at about 60 oF. The key difference is that bigas are better for stronger doughs such as brioche and stollen or high hydration doughs that benfit from the higher strength.

                While one CAN make preferments that will lead to nice, usually similar loaves using any of the techniques (levain, poolish, sponge, biga) changing the preferment method does impact on the characteristics of the dough and resulting loaves. I am not suggesting one should not customize ones own recipes to match their taste and inclinations for that is an important aspect of baking to me. But when one is shooting for a traditional bread changing the preferment may not yield the optimal traditional loaf.

                Biga is, for those who don't know, associated with Italian baking. If one goes back a century the Italians used sourdoughs (wild yeast) like the French. So if one goes back far enough one would have found sourdough bigas in Italy. The Italians pretty much abandoned sourdough after WWII as I understand it and went purely commercial yeast which is why Italian bread books rarely use sourdough starter and why biga is generally associated with commercial yeast. While sourdough is fabulous in breads like Pane Casareccio di Genzano the bulk of Italian breads (such as Pane Pugliese) are expected to be more neutral and not have the acidity of a sourdough. Thus the continued emphasis on commercial yeast for most Italian breads.

                Happy baking!
                Jay

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                • #9
                  Re: Biga Help!!!

                  I found this with a biga recipie as well.

                  I must admit I just added more water until it formed a dough that looked "typical" to me.

                  It then formed a bubbly gooey mess that rose and fell several times in the next 24 hours.

                  My thoughts were I can adjust the dough consistency when I make the final dough.

                  Turned out better than a lot of commercial bread.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Biga Help!!!

                    As discussed previously a proper biga is NOT a typical dough. It will be rather to quite dry, stiff, and firm. A biga is not a "dough" you would want to bake. The primary purpose of the biga is to give the final dough more strength than a wetter preferment. It sounds like what you made is much closer to a poolish.

                    For conventional breads this is no big deal though using a biga on bread flour would tend to make your bread tougher than you might want (so it is IMO generally better for AP and lower protein based breads such as Pane Pugliese). One can certainly adjust the final mix to give the desired hydration but mixing on the fly can make consistency elusive and make learning difficult if you have problems. Not a big deal if you have the touch!

                    One comment you make, however, is odd. The preferment shouldn't rise and fall multiple times unless you are doing something to it.

                    Whatever you call it, a preferment based bread will beat most any commercial bread.

                    Bake on!
                    Jay

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Biga Help!!!

                      It appeared to me that the preferment would rise and be highly aerated and then collapse to about half the maximum volume.

                      On refection me opening the lid may have given the yeast more oxygen that sped the fermentation.

                      I had the mixture in a airtight container and room temperature was about 30 centigrade (85F)

                      it may be part of living in hot dry conditions that the moisture content of flour seems quite variable

                      next time I will have make a dry bigga and see if there is a difference.

                      I just assumed the water quantity was wrong because there seemed to be flour that was not wet.

                      I have never seen this style of bread made and so thought that if it is not damp/wet the yeast will not work.

                      On reflection just because it is not wet at the beginning doesn't mean that it may not get wet as the yeast works.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Biga Help!!!

                        Jay,

                        "The primary purpose of the biga is to give the final dough more strength than a wetter preferment."

                        I understand what your saying here but it's a bit confusing to those of us that are not bread geeks like us. Biga and poolish primary purpose is for flavor. Your statement above addresses it's effect on the dough properties biga vs poolish. In turn dough properties have a direct relation to the finished bread. But none the less the Primary reason is flavor.

                        Personally, any yeasted bread I make will use a preferment. It is just tasteless without a preferment.

                        Faith

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Biga Help!!!

                          Well said, Faith! And I agree!

                          I was focusing on the use of the term "biga" and on the impact on the final dough relative to poolish... The purpose of preferments is definitely flavor.!

                          One comment on humidity (or lack thereof), Petanque! It is not unusual for dough humidity to vary by at least 5% and 10% is feasible...so a "wet" flour (high humidity) mixed at 45% hydration could easily be the equivalent of a "dry" flour (desert) mixed at 55% humidity. If you mix your biga at 60% you should be safely wet enough to give the proper quality.

                          Also...you are probably correct... Yeast needs oxygen so it should not be in a sealed jar for it won't develop as far as it should. Your removing the lid would let in new oxygen to give it new "life". With plenty of oxygen it should peak only once. Better to only loosely cover it.

                          Good Luck!
                          Jay

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