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    Biga — Italian 60% Preferment

    This is a recipe for biga, an Italian pre-ferment, analogous to a poolish in French bread baking. As you read this biga recipe, you will note that a biga is made dryer than a poolish, and activates more slowly. I prefer to use a biga when I want to carry a pre-ferment for a long time or when I’m making Italian bread. In usage, the two are equivalent; try them both and see which you prefer.

    I’ve always been a bit confused about a biga and a poolish. My reading of the Italian bread literature indicates that Italian breads are made a bit wetter than French breads, yet the Italian preferment is lower in hydration than the French preferment. This could be significant or it could be one of those mysteries of life that have no meaning and just are.  

    Ingredients for a 60% Hydration Biga 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 10 285
    Water 6 170
    Dry Yeast 1/4 tsp 1

    Method

    It’s mixed up, kneaded into a dough and allowed to sit, covered, on the counter for one of three periods of time:

    1. Overnight. If you do this, be sure that the container is large enough to contain the expanded biga.
    My biga pre-ferments routinely pop the top off a Tupperwear container with air pressure, and sometimes overflow the container.
    2. 2 or 3 hours, then it can be used.
    3. 1/2 hour, then placed in the refrigerator overnight.

    How you do them is up to you.

    Here we go:

    Click the thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.
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    Biga Italian pre-ferment ingredients on the counter. Weighing the water for the biga Italian pre-ferment. Weighing the flour for the biga Italian pre-ferment. Biga Italian pre-ferment after 20 seconds of mixing.
    Biga Italian pre-ferment after 2 minutes of mixing. Biga Italian pre-ferment on the counter. Biga Italian pre-ferment after a bit of kneading. Biga Italian pre-ferment after a minute more.
    Biga Italian pre-ferment can stick to your hands. Biga Italian pre-ferment almost finished. Biga Italian pre-ferment ready to rise for 1 hour. Biga Italian pre-ferment after rising for an hour.




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