A Biga Disaster, Not!

There is a lot of fear, when it comes to baking bread. But frankly speaking even when everything goes wrong, it can still be redeemed and will taste better than anything you get from a store.

This was a Biga bread, where everything that can go wrong, went wrong. But it still baked into an awesome loaf and everyone in my house loved it.

Biga is a Italian style preferment, which is almost like Poolish but uses significant more flour in the initial mix. This makes it a more dryer mix. My mistake in this dough was sticking to my “High Hydration is always awesome” rule.

This bread has just 4 ingredients. Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast.

As I wanted a 700 gram loaf, I went with

  • Flour: 450 grams
  • Water: 338 grams (75%)
  • Salt: 9 grams (2%)
  • Yeast: 9 grams (2%)

For Biga:

  • Flour : 225 grams (450 / 2)
  • Water: 150 grams (338 / 2.25)
  • A pinch of yeast.

Made the Biga at night. Combined the flour, water and yeast. Used a spoon till no dry flour was visible. Left it covered for about 12-13 hours.

It had almost trebled in volume.

I added the remaining flour (225 grams), water (187 grams), salt (9 grams), yeast (8 grams). This was a very wet dough. But I was confident that over the next few hours it will settle down.

You are supposed to pull and stretch the dough every 30 minutes. I got very busy and was only able to do it every hour. In any case the magic of gluten had started and the dough while still very wet was very stretchy.

Once confident that it can go in for baking, I shaped it into a ball and put it into an oven after a rest of 15 minutes. As soon as the heat from the 220 C oven hit the dough, it flattened out.

Immediately opened the oven and touched the barely warm dough. A quick decision and removed it. Praying that the yeast was still active, I put in more flour (approximately 3 fistfuls). This would have reduced the hydration to a more manageable 70%.

Kneaded it till all the flour was absorbed. Checked if the gluten looked ok by doing the simple windowpane test. Proofed for an hour. It doubled in volume, which is a great sign.

Shaped into a roll, scored it, into the oven. 220 C and 30 minutes later, a loaf which was with a beautiful chewy crust and spongy crumb.

Plan B, if the dough had not risen. Make into tortilla’s or rotis.

The point is that while baking can appear very intimidating, its also a lot of fun. In this current lock-down, giving a little excitement and a release from the boredom of being trapped at home.

Enjoy. Stay Home, Stay Safe.


Published by Imran

A s/w engineer by profession, I cook for my family.

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