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Old 01-06-2005, 12:19 PM   #1
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Bread Making Invite 4 All - a Collaborative Bread Thread

Bread Making Invite 4 All - Join a Collaborative Bread Thread

An invitation to all to participate in a thread that focuses on making bread that uses pre-fermented dough as part of the final recipe. I thought it would be fun to have an on-going discussion of this technique - experiments, tips, opinions, failures, successes - oh yeah - recipes too. Even if you've never made bread in your life, keep reading...making bread is easy, flexible for busy schedules and lots of fun.

I'm hoping to start a long thread with posts of all kinds - not just recipes but comments, evaluations, musings, etc - all on the theme of making bread with a pre-ferment. (Kinda like a collective blog.) The ingredients couldn't be cheaper and no fancy equipment is needed. We all can afford to experiment and share our results - failures and successes. I've seen some threads on forums.egullet.org like the one I'd like to start here where members all make the same thing and post about it. The thread stays active for months and is fun and instructive to read.

To level the initial playing field, I was hoping we could all use the same recipe for the pre-ferment. I've been using Carol Field's biga recipe in The Italian Baker. I posted an link to her recipe plus a few comments on her biga in this DiscussCooking thread Better Bread with Biga but I've moved the link and added some more notes so get an updated copy in one of two formats. (You'll need Acrobat Reader for the first link - most of you probably have this. If you don't, just use the browser format link.)

Biga Recipe: Adobe Acrobat Reader format
Biga Recipe: Browser format

The browser format is simply a giant image. When it first displays in the browser the print's so tiny you can't read it but simply move your cursor anywhere over the text and, if you use Internet Explorer you'll see this - just click on that icon on the lower right corner to enlarge.

I've been using her biga in several kinds of bread but here are some additional comments on the biga itself...

This makes a very wet (aka slack) dough. It takes about 5-10 minutes to make but at least 8 hrs to rise. Let it rise at room temperature (low 70'sF) or preferrably even cooler (in the 60'sF). At any rate, it must triple in bulk and when done will have bubbles on the surface like this


I usually make mine in the evening, let it rise overnight and then slap it in the frig in the morning. The author says the biga can be held a few days in the frig but I like to freeze mine so, when its cool, I package it in portions, label and freeze. Here's a few tips for freezing (and measuring)...

If you have a scale, use it, but if you don't you're in luck b/c X amount of this biga by volume pretty much equals the same amount by weight. I suggest making 8oz, 6oz or 4oz packages. If you lightly oil your measuring container the biga will plop out easily and it helps to lightly oil your hands too so the biga doesn't stick to you. Plop a measured portion in the middle of some plastic wrap, fold the edges over and then smoosh it into a flatish rectangle. Label it (I put the amount, date and whether I used AP or bread flour on the label) and then wrap again. The recipe for the larger amount yeilds about 30oz so you'll have enough for several bakings.

So, gals and guys, make that biga and get ready to rock 'n roll I've been experimenting with white bread using this biga and in about 2 weeks I'll post the saga (and the recipe). But I'm hoping this thread will have picked up some interested members before then!

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Old 01-06-2005, 01:30 PM   #2
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ok, here I come with first stupid question, lol... Exactly what does Biga do to your bread? I mean I made baguettes before without biga & they were pretty good.. so how does it change the texture or taste or..?
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Old 01-06-2005, 02:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pancake
ok, here I come with first stupid question, lol... Exactly what does Biga do to your bread? I mean I made baguettes before without biga & they were pretty good.. so how does it change the texture or taste or..?
Not stupid :!: This is supposed to be a collaborative blog-like thread so any comment is welcome.

Making a pre-ferment and then using it in the final recipe is a basic technique for developing flavor in breads that are primarily made with just wheat flour, water, yeast, salt. A long, slooooow rise for bread dough helps develop flavor in the final product.

I think the biga recipe I'm using is definitely too wet for baguettes. Actually, the "pre-ferment" approach for baguettes is pretty simple since the pre-ferment is basically a long-rising baguette dough.

The main purpose of this thread, however, is to share our experiments so...why don't you try using a baguette recipe that uses pre-fermented dough and compare the results with the recipe you use now?

If you don't already have a cookbook that tells you how, I have Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice so I could post his instructions for baguettes to this thread for you. Tell me if you want it :) I promise to post it if you promise to try it and tell us your opinion.
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Old 01-06-2005, 02:54 PM   #4
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Honestly, subfusc, I don't know if I have to patience for this, but I will watch your thread with great interest.
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Old 01-06-2005, 03:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mudbug
Honestly, subfusc, I don't know if I have to patience for this, but I will watch your thread with great interest.
No fair just watching :!: :roll: At least make the biga and tell us if it rose. Best case scenario you'll have some packets of biga in your freezer for future use (frozen biga should be good for several months). Worst case scenario you'll have wasted a little time and an investment of about a dollar.
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Old 01-06-2005, 03:19 PM   #6
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OK, OK! I surrender! For the record, I think this is a GREAT idea, especially to get people involved in a collaborative effort.

Let me re-read/print out the instructions early tomorrow a.m. when all is calm and quiet around here.
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Old 01-06-2005, 03:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mudbug
OK, OK! I surrender! For the record, I think this is a GREAT idea, especially to get people involved in a collaborative effort.

Let me re-read/print out the instructions early tomorrow a.m. when all is calm and quiet around here.
:D THANK YOU THANK YOU :D If you have any trouble with the links and/or printing PM me. Plus, you gotta post your experience making the biga to this thread!
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Old 01-06-2005, 05:59 PM   #8
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Ohhhhhhhhhh - yipppeeeee - I want to make bread but I'm a big chicken and I will have so many questions but this is perfect!!!!!! I've made my own hamburger/hot dog buns/rolls and they turn out great - but I want to MAKE bread!!!!!!!

I've got a couple bread books - I'll find a recipe or two that call for a biga and take it from there - I guess a biga made with AP flour versus bread flour would be mentioned in the specific recipe???? If not, what does it "mean" to the bread?
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Old 01-06-2005, 07:29 PM   #9
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welcome kitchenelf! - we now officially have 3 participants (you, me and mudbug) and a bunch of views so maybe we can recruit some of those lurkers.

Give it a try and post your experience - good/bad/indifferent - remember, we're going to need your pre-ferment recipe as well as the final recipe that uses the pre-ferment.

When you chose a recipe could you post the title and author(s) of the cookbook you used? Maybe someone else will have that book and would be willing to try it out also.

Pre-ferment recipes are going to differ from book to book; the main difference is going to be in the ratio of flour to water and the 2nd difference may be the addition of a small amount of salt to the pre-ferment. (A pre-fermented dough for baguettes, for example, is not going to anywhere near as "wet" as the one I'm using and it will include a little salt).

FYI, I'm working exclusively with the pre-ferment recipe from The Italian Baker and I gave a link to this in the initial post. I've made white and wheat bread with this and even a bread that used some lentil flour. I had various degrees of success so I decided to concentrate on a white bread and try to "perfect" it before going on to other flours.

I'm on about my 7th iteration of "white bread with biga" and my experience increases with each try. I'm making bread so frequently now we could never eat it all so I recruited some families in my apartment building - they get fresh baked bread but they had to promise to give me honest feedback on the loaves I give them.

Onwards and upwards - the more the merrier :D
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Old 01-07-2005, 11:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subfuscpersona
If you don't already have a cookbook that tells you how, I have Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice so I could post his instructions for baguettes to this thread for you. Tell me if you want it :) I promise to post it if you promise to try it and tell us your opinion.
I don't have that cookbook, I'd love it if you post this recipe :D Thanks alot !
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