What is Biga?
Biga is to Italians, what Poolish is to the French bakers. It is a type of preferment without the addition of salt. It is usually stiffer than Poolish, due to the lower hydration at 50-60% water absorption. Poolish is usually at a 100% water absorption. Biga is an Italian style preferment that has a 50-60% water absorption. It is made with flour, water and yeast only. The yeast level is usually in the 0.08 to 1% range. This can be used in Ciabatta recipes.
This method is from Italy.
As with any preferment, this type of starter is to help the hydration of the flour, and to boost its aroma, with the use of less yeast. It usually requires 8-16 hours of fermentation time.
Biga formula.1 Bread flour 100%, Water 60%, Yeast 0.2%. Mix all ingredients till a homogenous dough (full dough development is not needed). Cover and leave to ferment for 12-16 hours, at about 21oC (70oF). When ripe, the biga will be domed and just beginning to recede in the center. This can be used in a Ciabatta recipe at around 40% Biga.
- Hamelman, J. “Bread – a Baker’s book of techniques and recipes” (2004): 105