In Italy, “biga” is a general term for a pre-ferment. A biga is used to improve bread texture and flavour. Normally this is a stiff dough left to ferment at a cool temperature. A biga will contribute acidity, dough strength and improve shelf life.
The defining characteristics of a true biga are; the cool temperature (16-18C) rise and the 1% yeast ratio.
Traditional / Classical Biga: (left to ferment at 16-18° C for approx 18hrs.)
- 1kg strong white flour
- 450ml cold water
- 10g fresh yeast
Mix on slow speed for no more than 5 minutes. Final dough temperature must not exceed 21° C.
Mixing Tips: Place flour and yeast in the mixer bowl and turn on. Weigh the water separately and add to the flour in stages to form crumbs. Continue mixing adding the last of the water until a dough forms. Roll or press out the dough to make flat. Cover and place in a refrigerator for about 30-60 minutes, to bring down the dough temperature. Remove from the fridge, ball up, cover loosely and leave to ferment in a cool place.
Mature Biga: pH 5.0 – 5.2