Preferments not only improve the flavour. They also improve the crust and keeping quality.
There are various preferments that can be used like a flying sponge which is a quick preferment usually used in sweet bakes. Or a sourdough derived levain. Or a biga in the case of this loaf. A biga is a ‘stiff’ preferment because it has a lower hydration. There is also a preferment called poolish which is a liquid preferment. Check out my ‘breads made with pre-ferment’ section to learn more.
Using preferments opens up a whole new world of baking. If you have never tried it before, then this recipes is definitely for you. Once you try this, you will never look back. It is really worth the extra time. As with anything good things come to those who wait.
Watch the video down below to see detailed instructions.
For the biga –
100g (3.5oz) strong white bread flour
65g (2.3oz) water at around 20C (68F) if your kitchen is quite warm like mine. Air temp. 23 – 25C (73-77F).
A tiny pinch of yeast
For the main dough –
300g (10.6oz) strong white bread flour
195g (6.9oz) water at around 20C (68F)
8g (0.3oz) salt
4g (0.14oz) dry yeast or three times the amount of fresh yeast
To learn more about dough temperature when using a preferment click here.
- Make the biga by mixing the water, pinch of yeast and flour until no dry flour left. Cover and ferment for around 10-12 h or until tripled in size.
- Add the remaining water to a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Mix and let hydrate for a few minutes.
- Add the salt and mix to dissolve and then add the remaining flour and mix until no dry flour left.
- Knead the dough for around 2 minutes to bring it together.
- Add the mature biga to the dough and keep kneading for 5 more minutes or until decent gluten development. Desired dough temperature 23 – 24C (73-77F). If your dough is warmer, then reduce proofing time. If it is cooler, then extend the proofing time.
- Cover and ferment for 45 minutes.
- Ferment for another 45 minutes.
- Lightly preshape into a ball.
- Rest for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Shape into a loaf. At this point preheat your oven and your baking vessel to 220C (430F) fan off.
- Final proof 35 – 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
- Score and bake the bread with the lid on for 20 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.
- Cool down and enjoy! If you do not have a cast iron pot with a lid, then bake the bread on a tray for around 35 minutes. Drop a couple of ice cubes in a preheated cake pan to create stem in your oven which will help the bread expand as it is baking.
If you wish to adjust the amount of prefermented flour, then make sure you adjust the remaining flour & water accordingly.
Watch the video here