Pre-ferments

Biga

In Italy, “biga” is a general term for a pre-ferment, however professionals recognise this to be made in a specific way. Normally this is a stiff dough left to ferment at a cool temperature. The long and cool ferment is used to improve bread texture and flavour, also it will contribute some acidity, improving dough strength and shelf life.

The key characteristics of this specific biga are the cool temperature (16-18°C) rise and the 1% yeast ratio.biga3

Standard biga: (left to ferment at 16-18° C for approx 18hrs.)

  • 1kg strong white flour
  • 440 – 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 mix begins to come together. 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

Pre-ferments with lievito madre

The typical pre-ferments; poolish and biga can be made with lievito madre (LM). Salt is often used to hinder the development of acidity which brings them more in line with their commercial yeast counterparts.

Biga with LM

1Kg flour
450g water
100g LM (mature, refreshed twice)
salt (optional), dose up to 1% (10g) max.

let rise for 16-18hrs at 16-18°C

Poolish with LM

600g flour
600g water
100g LM (mature, refreshed twice)
2.5g salt

let rise for 12-14hrs at 16-18°C
or
16-18hrs at 12-14°C

Resources:
#brotokoll – Focaccia mit Pasta Madre Biga

2 thoughts on “Pre-ferments

  1. Michael, “The long and cool ferment is used to improve bread texture and flavour, also it will contribute some acidity, improving dough strength and shelf life.”

    How is acid produced without using a sourdough culture?

    Danny Ayo

    • Hi Danny, yeast contribute acidity principally by the development of succinic acid during any fermentation. They also produce small amounts of acetic acid and the carbon dioxide they produce will result in some carbonic acid too. However, with long pre-ferment times growth of LAB is inevitable. Cool and firm promotes the hetero-fermenters and warm (>25°C) promotes the homo-fermenters.

      Fresh cake yeast is also populated with LAB. Microbes are everywhere!

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