Biga Bread Starter
Bread (made from Biga Starter)
Here's one of my favs…..50% Whole Wheat Bread with Biga
Sample Schedule (so you are not messin' with dough at 3:00 a.m.) Mix the biga at 6 p.m., mix the final dough at 8 a.m the next morning, shape into loaves at 11 a.m. and bake at noon. Obviously this would be a Saturday job and then you have 2 loaves of bread for the week!
White flour 500 g (3 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp.)
Water 340 g Temp. 80F (27C) (1 1/2 cups)
Instant Dried Yeast 0.4 g (scant 1/8 tsp)
Whole wheat flour 500 g
Water 460 g (temp. 100F(38C) (2 cups)
Fine sea salt 22 g (1 tbsp. + 1 tsp)
Instant dried yeast 3 g (3/4 tsp)
Biga 840 g (All from the recipe above)
1. Mix the biga! The evening before you plan to bake, put 500 grams of flour in a 6-quart tub. Put 340 grams of water at 80 degrees F (27 C) in a separate container. Put 0.4 grams (1/8 tsp) of yeast in a separate, small container. Add about 3 tbsp. of the 80 F(27C) water to the yeast. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes, then stir with your finger; the yeast may not be completely dissolved, but you've given it a good start.
Pour the yeast mixture into the tub with the flour. Add a little water to the yeast container and swirl it around, add it to the flour along with the rest of the warm water. Mix by hand and fold over until all the ingredients are incorporated. Cover and leave out overnight at room temperature. (between 65 – 70 degrees F) About 12 – 14 hours you'll be ready to mix the final dough.
2. Measure 500 grams of whole wheat flour into a mixing bowl or tub. Add the 22 grams of salt and 3 grams of yeast and mix by hand. Pour in the 460 grams of water (100 F or 38 C) and mix by hand just until incorporated. Add the biga using your hand to ease it out of its container.
Mix by hand, wetting your working hand before mixing so the dough doesn't stick to you. (Rewet as often as you need to.) Use a pincer method alternating with folding the dough to fully integrate the ingredients. The target dough temp at the end of the mix is 80 F or (27 C).
3. This dough needs three or four folds. It's best to do this during the first 1 1/2 hours after mixing. Then 3 – 4 hours after mixing it is ready to be divided.
4. With floured hands, gently ease the dough out of the tub and onto a lightly floured work surface. With your hands still floured pick up the dough and ease it back down onto the work surface in a somewhat even shape. Use a bit of flour to dust the area where you'll cut the dough and cut it in two equal pieces.
5. Dut 2 proofing baskets with flour. Shape each piece of dough into a medium-tight ball and place seam side down in the flour-dusted basket.
6. Lightly flour the top and cover with a tea towel for about 1 hour. Make sure to preheat the oven.
7. At least 45 minutes prior to baking, put a rack in the middle of the oven and put 2 Dutch ovens on the rack with their lids on. Preheat to 475 degrees F (245 C). If you only have 1 Dutch oven, put the second loaf in the refrigerator about 20 minutes before baking the first loaf and bake the loaves sequentially, giving the Dutch oven a 5 minute reheat after removing the first loaf.
8. Be careful…the Dutch oven is very HOT! Invert the proofed loaf onto a lightly floured countertop, keepin in mind that the top of the loaf will be the side that was facing down while it was rising–the seam side. Remove the preheated Dutch over from you kitchen oven, remove the lid, and carefully place the loaf in the Dutch oven seam side up. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until at last medium dark brown all around the loaf. Check after 15 minutes of baking uncovered in case your oven runs hot.
Remove the Dutch oven and carefully tilt it to turn the loaf out. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes before slicing. It is worth the wait!
I know this all may sound somewhat daunting but after a couple of these loaves of bread you will never want to try the cardboard store-bought bread again.