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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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Quote:
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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Quote:
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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Quote:
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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Old 01-07-2005, 01:23 PM   #11
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Oh oh, I want to play too!

I'll dig out my cookbooks later this afternoon and see if any contain info on "biga", which is something that I've never heard of. =P Or would it make more sense for us to all try from the same starting point and use the same biga recipe?

Explain please, what you mean by pre-fermentation. There's obviously a couple stages of fermentation, since some occurs to get the biga to the bubbly stage that you show in the picture on the first page.

I have very limited bread-making experience, though I do have a pizza dough / foccocia recipe that I've perfected I've not done much beyond that. I love love artisan bread so this will be the perfect way to get me started in learning how to make some.

Go go bread team!

;)
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Old 01-07-2005, 03:46 PM   #12
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welcome Zereh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zereh-07-Jan-2005
Explain please, what you mean by pre-fermentation. There's obviously a couple stages of fermentation, since some occurs to get the biga to the bubbly stage that you show in the picture on the first page
pre-fermentation In it's simplest term just means using some yeast-risen dough to be used as an ingredient in a subsequent bread recipe. You don't make bread directly from it - it is only one ingredient in the final bread recipe. The pre-ferment has one rise. The final recipe will have it's own additional rises before it is baked.

There are basically 3 types of pre-fermented dough that are used in "artisan" type breads. They have two things in common:
>they are all made with white wheat flour, water and a tiny amount of yeast - one type adds salt
>the rise is very long (6-24 hours) - the long rise is controlled by [1]adding a very small amount of yeast in relation to the amount of water and flour and [2]slowing yeast action by having the dough rise at cooler temperatures (a professional bakery generally "proofs" dough at 80F - in contrast, a pre-ferment rises in temperatures ranging from the low 70sF down to 60F - sometimes even lower)

Here are the 3 types
> poolish - a thick batter made of equal portions by weight of flour and water plus a small amount of yeast (it is sometimes called a "sponge" which is confusing b/c a sponge is a looser term)
> biga - more dough like but also made from flour, water, small amount of yeast; the proportion of water:flour varies (the Carol Field recipe I posted uses more water than many other biga recipes I've seen)
> pate fermentee (French for "fermented dough") - this is the one that includes a small amount of salt, otherwise it is quite similar to biga


Quote:
Originally Posted by Zereh-07-Jan-2005
I'll dig out my cookbooks later this afternoon and see if any contain info on "biga", which is something that I've never heard of. =P Or would it make more sense for us to all try from the same starting point and use the same biga recipe?
If we use the link to Carol Field's biga recipe we have a common basis and it will be easier to trouble-shoot and share recipes. The recipes I'll post are going to be based on her biga. I'm too much of a beginner at this "pre-ferment" thing to want to introduce too many variables into my bread-making.

On the other hand, there's a wealth of variation in breads based on various pre-ferments. I'd like this thread to tap into that - after all, it's supposed to be a collaborative effort.

Do use your own if you want - you should post the recipe and technique for the pre-ferment you use as well as the final recipe for the finished bread. After all, the authors have tested their recipes with specific pre-ferments and adjusted each final recipe for the amount of water the pre-ferment contributes to the final dough, the amount of pre-ferment to use and the salt content (if present) of the pre-ferment.

Do come and play with us. Why don't you start by posting that pizza dough / foccocia recipe you've perfected?
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Old 01-08-2005, 10:23 AM   #13
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BRAVO, subfusc!!!!

What a FABULOUS thread!!!

I don't have the time for this method right now, but have used several prefermentation methods and recipes often during the down months when I did have the time. (I'll dig through my collection of recipes and notes to add later.)

I am personally so glad that you have begun this thread and in this manner, and I know that a lot of interested folks are going to learn a wealth of information from you and the other participants on this ancient and delicious method of breadmaking!

You make me want to take a vacation to come play, too!
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Old 01-08-2005, 12:46 PM   #14
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AUDEO - Share your experience plz

Quote:
Originally Posted by on 08-Jan-2005 Audeo wrote
I don't have the time for this method right now, but have used several prefermentation methods and recipes often during the down months when I did have the time. (I'll dig through my collection of recipes and notes to add later.)
hi audeo

do share your experience with us - tips, tricks, traps - general musings...do you have books you'd recommend? do you favor one prefermentation method over another (if yes - why? - if not - why not?)

collaborative effort just means we share whatever we want as long as it is on-topic so help us beginners out here

TIA
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Old 01-11-2005, 09:55 AM   #15
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I did a little research about biga and this was about all I could come up with. But at least this gives me an idea of what to do with it once it's made.

I'm on my way to the kitchen now to get the Biga started. Wish me luck!!

;)

Quote:
PANE PUGLIESE
(Country Bread from Puglia)

makes 2 large or 3 smaller round loaves

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups water at room temperature
4/5 cup (200 g) Biga*
7 1/2 cups flour (half whole wheat, half unbleached)
1 tablespoon sea salt

1. Stir yeast into warm water in a large mixer bowl. Let stand until creamy (about 10 minutes. Add 3 cups water and starter and mix with the paddle until well blended. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (1 to 2 minutes). You may need to add 1 or 2 TBS more flour.

2. Change to the dough hook and knead at medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough will be very soft and elastic, but will never pull completely away from the bottom of the bowl. You will probably want to finish kneading by hand on a floured surface with floured hands until the dough loses its stickiness and is soft and velvety.

3. First rise: Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl (or well-Pammed 2 gallon plastic bag). Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap (burp bag and tie at the very end). Let rise until triple in bulk -- 2 to 3 hours. Do not punch down, or get impatient.

4. Shaping and Second rise: Flour surface and a dough scraper well and have a bowl of flour close by for your hands. Pour dough out of the bowl, flour the top and cut into 2 or 3 equal pieces. Flatten each piece of dough and roll it up lengthwise, using your thumbs as a guide. Shape each piece into a ball by rolling the dough between your cupped hands and using the work surface to generate tension, and purr the dough taut.

5. Place loaves on floured parchment or waxed paper set on sideless baking sheets or peels. Cover with a heavy towel or cloth and let rise until double (about 1 hour).

6. Baking: 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven and stone(s) to 450 degrees F.

7. Five to 10 minutes before you are read to bake, flour the tops of the loaves and dimple them with your fingertips. These disappear while baking, but prevent the bread from rising crazily while baking.

8. Put cornmeal or semolina in the stone(s). Slide the loaves onto the stone(s) or remove papers and let loaves bake on sheet on top the stone. Bake until golden brown and crusty (about 50 minutes). Test for doneness by knocking on the bottom and listening for the hollow ring.

9. Cool on racks.


BIGA -- Bighino in smaller amounts
(Starter)

makes 2-1/3 cups (585 g) makes 3-1/2 cups (750 g)

1/4 tsp active dry yeast 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water 1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup + 1 TBS +1 tsp water at room temp 1-1/4 cups = 2 TBS water at room temp
2-1/2 cups unbleached flour 3-3/4 cups unbleached flour

1. Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy (about 10 minutes.) Stir in the remaining water, then the flour, 1 cup at a time.

2. Mix with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Remove to a large glass jar or oiled plastic tub. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at a cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours. The Biga will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.

4. Stir with a wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. When needed, scoop out desired amount.

Note: You can replenish the Biga by feeding it with flour and water and letting it rise again. It can also be frozen if you don't want to use it for a while
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Old 01-11-2005, 10:27 AM   #16
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pate fermentee from Reinhart's Bread Maker's Apprentice

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancake
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 !
Here is the recipe for "pate fermentee" from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Maker's Apprentice - he uses this in his baguette recipe, which I will post shortly.


You can also view or download it from preferment-reinhart.jpg
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Old 01-11-2005, 10:44 AM   #17
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Thank you subfuscpersona ! I just printed it out, I'll start on it today-- looking good & easy. I'm anxiously waiting for the baguettes recipe to go with it :D
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:28 AM   #18
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Reinhart Baguette Recipe from Breadmakers Apprentice

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancake
Thank you subfuscpersona ! I just printed it out, I'll start on it today-- looking good & easy. I'm anxiously waiting for the baguettes recipe to go with it :D
I uploaded an image of Reinhart's baguette recipe using his preferment to baguettes-reinhart

You'll have to click to enlarge it (see my initial post about enlarging a ""greeked" image using IE) - I hope it's not too fuzzy.
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:30 AM   #19
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Baguette Recipe from P Reinhart's Breadmaker's Apprentice

Baguette Recipe from Peter Reinhart's Breadmaker's Apprentice
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:58 AM   #20
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subfuscpersona, once again thanks alot for helping me with this recipe! It looks so different than mine & I'm really excited about trying it.. I just wanted to make sure I understand the oven temperature thing..
I'll start off with 500F, then I'll drop it to 450F. Now after how long can I drop to 350F if my bread was browning quickly?
Thanks!
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