Biga (Starter Dough)

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Credit: The Italian Baker
Originally from March 2013 on my old blog

This is a recipe used to start many different types of bread. I used it for cibatta bread, as pictured above, which was AMAZING. As the author of The Italian Baker suggests, if you’re an avid bread maker, it’s good to have some biga in your fridge at all times to whip out whenever you plan on making bread as it takes a long time to rise, so it shouldn’t really be an impulse decision to make some. I have 2 volume lists here, one for 2 ½ cups of biga and one for 3 ½ cups; different bread recipes call for different amounts. This is a very wet, loose dough.

Ingredients:

For 2 ½ cups biga:

~¼ teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast (or 1/10 of a small cake fresh yeast; about 2 grams)
~¼ cup warm water (if using instant yeast, just use room temperature water)
~1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
~2 ½ cups (about 330 grams) unbleached (or white if that’s all you have) all-purpose flour

For 3 1/3 cups biga:

~½ teaspoon active dry yeast, or instant yeast (or 1/5 cake fresh yeast; about 3 to 5 grams)
~¼ cup warm water (if using instant yeast, just use room temperature)
~1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
~3 ¾ cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (if white is all you have, then just use that)

If using active dry or fresh yeast: Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large bowl and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, 1 cup at a time.

If using instant yeast: Mix together the yeast and flour in a large bowl. Slowly add the water and combine.

For both methods: Either mix by hand with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes, mix with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at the lowest speed for 2 minutes, or mix with a food processor until a sticky dough is formed.

Whatever method you use, after mixing, remove dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at a cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours. The starter will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.

Both recipes and easily be cut in half.

Like I said, I used this recipe to make cibatta bread, which I will be posted on my blog next. Plenty other types of bread use biga as part of the dough, though.

Happy dining!!

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