Monday, June 18, 2012

Another Big Biga Experiment

  Despite my preference for sourdough loaves, I sometimes lack the self discipline to resist playing with my abundant supply of active dry yeast. It's a shopping at Costco kind of thing I guess.

This loaf started off with a 70% hydration biga, or preferment if you'd rather, that contained 50% 0f the flour in the loaf. I was aiming at a 70% overall hydration to see If I could get an open crumb when I used high extraction Turkey Red flour in the biga. I even added another 15g of water during the mixing which should have given me a 74% hydration. When the mixing was done, the dough was somewhat sticky but not difficult to handle. The fermentation was good, shaping was easy, and I proofed for at least 1 1/4 hours before loading in the oven.

200g bolted Turkey Red Flour
140g water at 85F
1/2 tsp active dry yeast  
After mixing, the biga sat at an 80F room temperature for 6 hours

200g bread flour
140g water at 85F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
7g kosher salt
All of biga

I mixed the biga, bread flour, and water together for about a minute and let the mass rest for 20 minutes. Then I folded the salt into the dough and sprinkled the ADY over the top of the dough. I mixed at first speed for three minutes and then went to second speed for another three minutes. After that, I turned out the dough, shaped it into a ball, and placed it into my oiled Cambro container so I could monitor the progress of the fermentation.

I did a S&F at 45 minutes and 80 minutes. Total fermentation was 2 hours. A preshape, covered rest of 15 minutes, and shaping followed that. Proofing at room temperature for 1 1/4 hours led to a preheated 450F oven for 15 minutes.  A quick turn around of the loaf and lowering the oven to 400F for the last 20 minutes gave me a loaf that had an internal temperature of 205F.

There are several things that I could do differently the next time. First, use less yeast and a longer rest for the biga. While I could change to whole wheat flour I don't think using it in the biga needs to change. Shorter mixing times might lead to a better looking crumb as long as I match that with less handling of the dough. The proofing time definitely needs to be extended.

Using a large percentage of fermented flour in a loaf isn't that difficult though recipes using the big biga aren't very common. Fortunately, with few and simple ingredients required, bakers can just figure out their own after the first or second recipe they follow.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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