can you give me a BIGA 101 lesson?

Want to start experimenting, using a biga. What’s the basic biga recipe? What ratios should I use and how should I integrate it into a dough recipe? Do I just make it from the yeast, flour and water that would normally go into the recipe?


capizza look at the topic right below this one and you will see a 10 page topic discussion about that topic. Read and you will get a lot of info on the subject. Topic is “Increasing dough flavor”


I look at a biga as something a lot like a sponge, as in a sponge-dough process. You can ferment as much or as little of the flour as you wish, but as you ferment lass of the flour, the flavor of the finished crust dimenishes, so fo rthis rreason, I like to use from 60 to 80% of the total flour in the sponge, with the remainder of the flour going into the dough side.
The sponge is made from only flour, water and yeast.
Here is an example, using 50-pounds of total flour weight.
80/20 sponge-dough system
Flour: 40-pounds
Yeast: 4-ounces (IDY)
Water: 20-pounds (70F)
Mix together at low speed for 6-minutes, then set aside and allow to ferment for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.
Optional: Reduce the yeast to only 1-ounce and place the sponge into the cooler after mixing to ferment over night.

Add the following to the mixing bowl:
Dough side:
Flour: 10-pounds
Salt: 14-ounces
Olive oil: 1-pound
Water: 8-pounds (75F)
Mix together for 2-minutes at low speed, then add the fermented sponge and mix just until the dough takes on a smooth, satiny appearance (about 6 minutes).
If you put the sponge in the cooler over night, increase the water temperature at the dough side to 85F, then add 4 more ounces of IDY, and mix to a smooth, satiny appearance as described above.
You can really develop some great flavored crusts using this method, especially when you allow the dough to ferment in the cooler over night.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I think I want to give this a try as well and see what happens!

 I have a quick ? for you Dough Doctor....Once you have made your biga, fermented it, and then turned it into a dough, what do you do next?  Do you go ahead and handle it like a regular dough right out of the mixer that you are going to retard, or is there another set of rules for dough made this way?  I appreciate your help on this.  

Take care,

Once you have mixed the fermented sponge into the dough ingredients, immediately cut the dough to desired weight pieces, form into balls, and place on sheet pans, or in dough boxes, wipe the tops with salad oil or olive oil, cover and allow to rest until you can begin forming into dough skins (typically about 45-minutes). Or, you can mix the dough colder as described, and store in the cooler after balling and boxing (be sure to cross stack), then the dough is ready to be used on the following day.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor