Biga Bread and Gone Girl

Yesterday I looked at one of the emails I got in the evening and it was Dana. There was only one sentence “Marta where are you????” 😀 I smiled to myself. Even if I would like to disappear it’s not that easy ha? Someone will always find me! Well, this time if was not intentional believe me, and my apologies for this long silence- two weeks I know! I’m being busy with other things, and had to prioritize, but I hope it will end up soon and I will be able to show you some of my new recipes and breads that I tried during the last few weeks. Many things to talk about too! I’ve learned a lot, and keep reading and exploring different flour types and techniques, but of course apart from my blogging life I have another one more focused on things like house insurance, maybe moving to a new place- if you never looked for a place in Lux you’re lucky! Work has been busy and crazy, busy and crazy, crazy and busy… All these things are happening to me at the same time. But I haven’t forgotten about you, and I see some of you on Instagram , or via emails or I simply read your posts on my mobile. So believe me, I’m here all this time. I can see people still come to my little plate and look what’s for dinner and I thank you all for this. Really. Today I will show you a new bread type, which is called biga. It’s a sort of pre-fermented dough, and the procedure is a bit more time consuming comparing to my Saturday White Bread. I have no doubts though this method could have more fans because this bread has totally different combination of flavors. I prefer all breads made using the long fermentation methods. You give the dough the time to develop the right strength and aroma. Try it and you will never leave it! If you remember my previous breads, you know I still have not shared any sourdough recipe, simply because I think there are so many other ways of making good bread, and biga dough is one of them. This bread was a real beauty. I was very happy with the pictures. I hope you are going to enjoy it, like I did.

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Ingredients

Makes two loaves- 500 g each, or you can divide the dough into 600 g and 400 g loaf. The loaf on the pictures is about 600 g

Preparation time- for biga dough- preferably overnight- 12-14 hours- if you can keep it for 14 hours, the dough is going to have more complex flavor

Preparation time- for bread- bulk raising- 3-4 hours

Proofing time- 1 hour- for biga dough breads is only 1 hour, so please do not forget to preheat the oven on time

Baking time- 30 min with the lid on, 20-25 min with no lid

The oven temp- 245 C/ 475 F

Baking method- Dutch oven

The original recipe calls for 1kg of whole wheat flour, but I changed it and added 500 g of spelt flour instead- I consider it as way more healthy, also the bread is very tasty, gluten in spelt flour is easy to digest for our bodies. Spelt flour contains more microelements and proteins- so it would be great if you could try this combination!

  1. 500 g of spelt flour- whole grain
  2. 500 g of whole wheat flour- you can use bread flour if you wish so, or simply each purpose flour, but in this case I would mix 250 g of white wheat and 250 g of whole wheat, remember if you use bread flour the hydration is going to increase a bit- hard flours require more water
  3. 800 g of water
  4.  1 teaspoon of instant dried yeast
  5.  22 g of fine sea salt

Below I’m showing you the breakdown for the biga dough and the final dough mix

Biga Dough

  1. 250 g of spelt flour- 3 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp
  2. 250 g of whole wheat flour- 1 1/2 cups
  3. 340 g of water ( 27C/80 F)
  4. 0.4g of instant dried yeast- scant of 1/8 tsp

Final Dough

  1. 500 g of the remaining flour- 3 3/4 cups and 2 tbsp
  2. 460 g of water ( 38C/100F)- 2 cups
  3. 22g of Fine sea salt- 1tbsp + 1tsp
  4. 3 g of instant dried yeast- 3/4 tsp
  5. Biga- 840 g ( all from the breakdown above)

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Method

Biga Dough

The evening before you intend to bake place 500 g of flour in a big bowl. In a separate container add 340 g of water. In a glass combine the yeast and about 3 tablespoons of water (27C) – leave it for a few minutes, mix it until the yeast is dissolved- at least try to dissolve it completely. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with flour and add the remaining water. Mix all together by hand, fold it a few times. You should feel the dough is getting warmer- especially at the bottom of the bowl. Set is aside at room temperature ( which is around 21C) for the whole night.

Final Dough

In a big bowl mix together the remaining flour, add 22 g of salt, and 3 g of yeast. Once done add the 460 g of water- remember the temperature here 38C/100F! Keep mixing until everything is evenly incorporated. Add the biga- do it gently- and integrate it with the rest of the dough. Mix until all is perfectly blended in- the target temperature for this dough is 27C/80F. You should feel the warmth of the dough at the end.

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Folds

This dough needs 3 or 4 folds- please refer to my Saturday White Bread post if you don’t know what it means. If you can do it during the first 1 1/2 hours, that would be perfect. Remember that is important to leave the dough on its own during the last hour. After 3-4 hours the dough should triple its volume, and this means it is ready to be divided.

Divide

Flour your working surface, and with floured hands ease the dough gently out of the bowl. Remember not to pull the dough at this stage, as you don’t want to lose all the gas that is inside. Try to give it some shape and then divide it into two parts. This process is well described in my Saturday White Bread post- so please go back to that one in case of any doubts.

Shape and Proof- these stages are described in Saturday White Bread post. Remember that proofing for biga bread takes only 1 hour.

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Baking

45 min before baking preheat the oven- put the Dutch oven inside. Don’t forget to create some steam. Place the dough into the Dutch oven and cover it up. Place it in the oven and bake with the lid on for 30 min, after that remove the lid and bake it for another 20-25 min. Until the crust is nicely dark brown.

If you fancy this bread from the picture remember you have to score it like I did in order to get those cuts- I used simple kitchen scissors. Also you can dust the dough with some sunflower seeds before placed in the oven.

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When the bread is ready, set it aside and let it cool down for two hours. I hope you are going to enjoy it! Also, today is the Valentine’s Day so I wish you love and love and love…and anything else you might think of 🙂

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For this recipe I used Ken Forkish method presented in his book Flour, Water,Salt and Yeast.

44 thoughts on “Biga Bread and Gone Girl

  1. Now that is a stunning loaf! I haven’t really played around much with alternate flours… spelt especially – for some reason I thought they would’nt behave properly.

    This may have to go on the try pile.. slow, prefermented breads are becoming my new love.

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  2. I always thought a biga dough was something you had to fuss with long before making, like some sourdough starters are. I didn’t know you could make it the night before! Your directions are excellent, I bet this tastes amazing. Will find spelt flour and be trying this soon Marta!! 😉

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    • Yes- there are two main kinds of preferments, poolish and biga, the proportions are a bit different but both of them would require around 12-14 hours, so less than the classic levain. It’s very easy to make this bread. Try it and let me know ☺

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    • I was surprised too you know! But we really like these breads and it’s not time consuming to make them at all. Also this one stays fresh for 3 days- I mean it managed to stay 3 days, we are it all 😂

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  3. I have everything I need to make this gorgeous loaf. Now to overcoming my bread baking fears. Hope you had a rippa Valentines weekend and it was filled with all the love and deliciousness.
    Cheers, Anna 🙂

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    • Apologies for getting back to you so late sweetheart! I’m so busy with organising things, but I hope it will get better soon. Yes, I had lovely Valentine’s day 😛 I got flowers and chocolate and was invited to a lovely lunch! I hope it was the same for you- love and lots of hugs!xx

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  4. That bread looks amazing. It’s something I really want to learn more and do more of in my cooking. THis year I’m focussing on making pasta from scratch, but I might need to add bread too. Fabulous! margaret

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    • Oh it would be great if you could try! I also thought it was difficult but once you get used to the routine you start loving it and it’s so addictive too haha I can’t wait to start making a new loaf every time I finish one ! Thank you so much for visiting xx

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  5. Ha! My husband picked up a DVD last night for us to watch today. Gone Girl! 😃 Glad to see you’re doing well! And that bread! I haven’t seen any as perfect! I thought it was sourdough, which I have yet to master. Now I’m already thinking of biga 😃.

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    • So how was the movie? Apologies for this late reply. My days are not long enough! I hope this is going to ease down soon. To be honest with you, now when I went through so many ways of making bread I’m not so sure if sourdough is really the one I like the most. I have another technique to publish yet, which I find very useful but so far biga is THE thing! I make sourdough bread every week but always glad to go back to biga. Also it teaches you the necessary technique for making really good sourdough. Have a lovely weekend and thank you for visiting! Xx

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      • No worries, I know exactly how it is. I have to MAKE time for blogging! Btw, your rustic pizza made it on the best of FF anniversary. Did you know that? 😃

        The movie was pretty riveting. I would give it an 8/10. A little disturbing at the same time, though.

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