Improving The Basic White Bread By Using a Preferment

Home 9 Bread With Preferment 9 Improving The Basic White Bread By Using a Preferment

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.


  1. 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.
  2. Add the remaining water to a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Mix and let hydrate for a few minutes.
  3. Add the salt and mix to dissolve and then add the remaining flour and mix until no dry flour left.
  4. Knead the dough for around 2 minutes to bring it together.
  5. 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.
  6. Cover and ferment for 45 minutes.
  7. Fold.
  8. Ferment for another 45 minutes.
  9. Lightly preshape into a ball.
  10. Rest for 15 – 20 minutes.
  11. Shape into a loaf. At this point preheat your oven and your baking vessel to 220C (430F) fan off.
  12. Final proof 35 – 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
  13. Score and bake the bread with the lid on for 20 minutes.
  14. Remove lid and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.
  15. 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

Understanding the principles of bread making will let you be in complete control every time you make bread. It will reduce the failure rate and turn you into an even more confident home baker.

I highly recommend you check out the Learning page where I have detailed, easy to understand explanations on each step of the bread baking process and the principles behind it. You can find all the equipment I use and recommend in the Shop (UK) &Β Shop (US) pages.

Show/Hide Comments (8 comments)


  1. Dave ....

    Hi CB, thanks for your videos. I’ve tried a few recipes and I’m batting about .333 – two failures for each success. Your begals were awesome and a ciabatta came out pretty good, but kind of flat. I saw this biga recipe and started my preferment last night – but with 33% of the flour instead of 25%. (UGH! Maybe my failures have to do with not reading instructions!) Will this still work as long as I wind up with the same percentages? Can I increase the main dough flour so that the biga flour becomes 25%? Should I start over?

    • ChainBaker

      Hi Dave. Yeah the instructions are crucial for the most part πŸ™‚ You could go either way. Increase the final dough ingredients and you will get the result that I show in the video. Or you can continue as is. The dough will be slightly stickier and have a more intense flavour, but there is nothing wrong with that. I hope I’m not too late here.

  2. Melanie

    Thank you for creating and sharing your bread videos. I tried this recipe and it turned out great! Really enjoy learning more about the science behind baking bread. Keep up the great work!

    • ChainBaker

      Glad you enjoyed it Melanie πŸ™‚ Thank you so much!

  3. Jennifer Zelcer

    This turned fabulous for me the second time as I too misread the instructions.

    Love love love your videos!

    Can I use this recipe to make sandwich buns? You know the crusty roll type. How much should each bun weigh before final bake?

    Thanks for everything!!

  4. Karlo Melendez-Pena

    I did it! It was my first time baking in the cast iron, and I debated back and forth weather to use the bread tin to do the final proof. I thought it was too small, and don’t have proper bannetons. But it turned out great! I probably watched the video over every step in the process. Still growing my starter, but using that for bread and pizza is probably my next challenge.

    How do you cut the paper and prepare the bread tins, like you do your experiment videos? I’d like to make a few more loaves like that as well, but I’m still a bit unsure if it will fit, and how to prepare the paper.

    • ChainBaker

      Awesome! I’m glad it was a success πŸ™‚ You can use a bowl lined with a tea towel for the final proof too.
      I cut a rectangle that is larger than the tin and then do diagonal cuts from the corners towards the middle. When I place the paper into the tin it naturally folds and over laps where those cuts are and fits perfectly into the tin. I hope that made some sense πŸ˜€


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More Posts

A note to our visitors

This website has updated its privacy policy in compliance with changes to European Union data protection law, for all members globally. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to give you more information about your rights and responsibilities with respect to your privacy and personal information. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our updated privacy policy.