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Old 04-15-2011, 02:35 PM
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Default Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

I never made biga for my dough before, but after spending last week in Napoli, I was convinced...
Biga is the way to go...BEST dough I have ever had. Crusty, but chewy in the center, with some great sweetness to it...

Does anyway have a good biga + final dough recipe?

I tried to learn from the Pizzaiolos, but my Italian is not very good.

Thanks,
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Old 04-15-2011, 03:40 PM
Faith In Virginia's Avatar
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

Biga and poolish are both pre-ferments the difference between the two is usually consistency ( one thicker then the other) Both are made with yeast flour and water and left to sit for some time. The pre-ferment helps with the flavor.

Ask the same question here The Fresh Loaf | News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts and you will get all kinds of recipes, advice and more. This is just one of many
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/rusticbread
Happy baking

Last edited by Faith In Virginia; 04-15-2011 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:24 AM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

I always make biga the night before and add it to my dough. I calculate all amounts using baker's percentages and work on a 60% hydration level for the biga. I don't add any more yeast (only a miniscule amount to the original biga). Results are consistently good with biga - none of problems I experienced with IDY added directly to the main dough batch.

I got the inspiration from my visit to Da Michele in Naples last year and spent a while emulating what I experinced there - superb, basic, light, minimalist pizza... the world's best....
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Last edited by heliman; 04-16-2011 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:36 AM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

Heliman,
what are the steps, measurements, and timline that you are using to prepare your dough and biga?

Do you have a step by step recipe for 1000g of flour?
Also, have you started the biga with fresh bilogic yest?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-18-2011, 04:09 PM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

You might want to consider using a poolish as opposed to a biga, but it depends on what type of flour you're using. If you're using a softer wheat flour like Caputo 00, a biga will help develop a stronger gluten network when mixed with your final dough. If you're already using a flour that has a stronger wheat (like GM Harvest King or most other all purpose flours) a poolish will enhance the flavor without adding so much to the overall gluten strength.

For pizza, it's a good idea to use about 20-25% of pre-fermented flour. So in the case where you have a recipe that calls for 1000g of flour, create a biga with:

200g flour
160g water
Up to 1/8t of Instant Dry Yeast
Mix and let sit for anywhere between 12 and 16 hours. You don't want to knead the Biga much because you want the fermenting gas from the yeast to escape from the biga as much as possible. Just mix until everything comes together and all of the flour is hydrated.

For a poolish, you would simply use 100% of the water to flour, so:

200g flour
200g water
Up to 1/8t of IDY
Mix and let sit for anywhere between 12 and 16 hours.

If you're using fresh cake yeast, you can use up to about .65% of the weight of the flour. In this case, you'd be adding about 1.3g of fresh yeast to the 200g of flour. That's probably on the high side for a 12 hour poolish, so you'll need to experiement with the amounts. I think it's easier to tell when a poolish is ripe as opposed to a biga. In my experience, a poolish is ripe when you start to see what look like cracks on the surface of the poolish that are slightly sunken.

Having said all that, I have not had much luck distinguishing between pizza or bread made with either a poolish or biga. This is what I have learned in theory and have yet to realize the differences in practice (definitly worth using either method to enhance the flavor of the final dough though.)

Good luck!

Eric
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

Apologies for the tardiness in responding - running 3 jobs at present and bogged down marking student assignments and other mundane stuff. Easter is a few days away and I hope to be back on track by then.

Some good info from Eric!

Essentially my method is closely aligned with what Eric has suggested, and the biga in my view produces the "light" and "easy eating" style of pizza that characterises Da Michelle. These formidably large looking pizzas are easily consumed and don't leave you feeling full like so many commercially produced pizzas that one encounters.

I start by doing a biga calculation (20-25% of main dough batch) then just work on a 60% hydration, miniscule sprinkling of IDY and leave the dough on the bench for about an hour before putting in the fridge to ferment overnight. It has been documented that Da Michele uses an overnight fermentation process for their starter.

The following day I make a standard 65% hydration batch of dough - working on feel and adding water as necessary until if feels right. I stand the balled dough in individually sealed containers on the bench for 5-6 hrs and then use them as necessary.

I can provide more specifics if you need them when I get home.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

Eric and Helliman,

Thank you very much for the info.

I never tried poolish, but i believe that Poolish is what the baking "Polish people" brought to use in France during the early 1920's...don't remember, but have to go back to my culinary books.

Questions:
- How much yest do you guys use in your dough? after you combine the Biga or Poolish.
- Have you tried fresh biological yest instead of the packs?
- After you mix the biga/poolish and finish the dough, how long do you let that rest before separating them into "pizza ready" dough balls?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

- How much yest do you guys use in your dough? after you combine the Biga or Poolish.
A tiny sprinkling - about 1/8 teaspoon as suggested by Eric
- Have you tried fresh biological yest instead of the packs?
Yes, but IDY is just as good and more convenient so just go with that.
- After you mix the biga/poolish and finish the dough, how long do you let that rest before separating them into "pizza ready" dough balls?
About 20 minutes - just to allow the dough time to relax.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:12 AM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

I use up to .1% of the total flour weight for fresh yeast and then subtract from that the amount I added to the poolish. If you use IDY, simply multiply that value by .33. Based on a 1000g formula, that ends up being 1g fresh or .33g IDY (as Rossco suggests, an 1/8 of a teaspoon of IDY which is right around .4g.)

I've used both and am currently on a fresh yeast kick, but there are so many factors that go into this that it's difficult to tell a difference. I agree with Rossco regarding the convenience. If you can get your hands on fresh yeast, try it out and see if you notice a difference.

I normally let my dough bulk ferment for about three to four hours before balling the dough (I currently have a dough that has been fermenting for the last 23 hours at room temperature and am about to portion that.)

There are so many different ways you can do this and the tiniest adjustment can sometimes yield such drastic differences from one batch to the next. You'll just have to experiment and see what suits your tastes. One thing that took me a while to learn was that pizza dough uses much less yeast than bread dough. Less yeast and longer fermentation seem to produce the best results.

Eric
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:29 AM
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Default Re: Biga - anyone here uses it on their dough

Quote:
Originally Posted by etheil View Post
One thing that took me a while to learn was that pizza dough uses much less yeast than bread dough. Less yeast and longer fermentation seem to produce the best results.
Spot-on there Eric - that to me is the key to this whole process! For too long I merrily tossed teaspoons full of yeast into my mix and wondered why there were thin spots in the bases and why they puffed up so much before I stretched them. Then I changed the recipe and only added minute quantities of yeast to the biga and the thin spots and puffing were a thing of the past.

Da Michele pizzas did not puff up very much during preparation or even when cooked for that matter which suggested to me that they also work on a very low yeast component.

I have used fresh yeast and it's really cheap and available in speciality stores. I didn't see any noticeable quality change in the finished dough using fresh or IDY so simply went with the IDY (for convenience) to basically get the fermentation process moving.
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