Biga, name’s origin
What the chariot has to do with baking??
All the idea is in the chariot function. It takes you from point A to point B, driving you to your destination.
That is what the Biga does. It leads the process of fermentation and proofing in baking goods.
Biga is a pre-ferment that adds complexity to the bread’s flavour. It helps to create a nice crumb and increase shelf life.
Italian bakers invented biga to replace the sourdough with an easier and more consistent pre-ferment. The advent of the baker’s yeast made this switch possible.
The biga is made out of Strong flour with 45% hydration and 1% yeast.
So, the recipe for 1 Kg of flour is:
|Strong flour||1000 g|
|Fresh yeast||10 g
(4 g if dry yeast)
Nowadays, it is common to find recipes that use 50% hydration for the biga. The higher amount of water helps to mix.
I posted the most accredited and classic recipe from the Baker Maestro “Piergiorgio Giorilli.”
However, the mixture is only mixed to form a homogeneous dough; not much gluten structure should be formed.
See the photo below.
You want to mix until no dry flour remains; not 1 second more. It usually takes 3 to 4 minutes, but it depends on the mixer and the flour quantity compared to the bowl size.
The biga then needs to rest, well covered, for about 18 hours at 18 C [64.4 F]. It will be ready when almost triple in volume, and a strong alcoholic smell will come from it.
The most famous Italian bread made with this pre-ferment is Ciabatta bread, it contains 40% of Biga in the final dough.
Ciabatta bread is a high hydrated bread. The hydration level could be between 70 to 90%, depending on the baker preferences.