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Here is the recipe for the Biga if you want to make it yourself.
La Biga or Natural Wild Yeast Starter or Bread Mother Plant
Bidga is a natural yeast starter that adds so much character to the bread. When used, the crust will be crunchier, the crumb moister and the bread will be more flavourful with a longer shelf live. Above all, you save on the cost of buying yeast all the time. The idea is to introduce natural wild yeast spores and natural bacteria to ferment the simple, introduced sugars and encourage bubbling. The lactic acid from the bacteria strengthens the gluten elasticity and intensifies the flavours.
Grate one apple and one pear and place in a glass jar with one litre of temperate tap water and leave for three days at room temperature. Strain the juices from the solids and discard solids. Add 150 g of plain flour and 200 g of temperate tap water to the juice and mix very well. Mix well every couple of hours during the day. On the morning of day two mix very well, then discard 250 g of the product and top up with 150 g of plain flour and 200 g of temperate tap water. Stir very well, and keep at room temperature. Always work very hygienically and clean to avoid any outside contamination.
Repeat the above process for 14 days in a row. Stir very well every so often. You should now have almost 1500 g of product as you add more every day than you discard. If the Biga is now smelling sour and is foamy it is almost ready to use in your baking. When you have your Biga doubling in volume in about eight hours, start baking wonderful bread, focaccia, pizza and more!
Remember to start with a big enough container, preferably glass, as you will end up with a 1500g Biga that is expanding.
Making the Bread
700 g plain flour
700 g of your biga
200 g temperate tap water
60 g Extra Virgin Olive oil
20 g salt
If you were weighing accurately this should have the right consistency for your bread. Mix the above in a large bowl by stirring it slightly and then get your hands in and knead the dough until smooth (10 – 15 minutes). If the dough is too soft ad flour and if too dry add water – the dough must just not stick to your hands. The best way to work the dough and get maximum air into it to make a light bread, is by flattening the dough out in a large square of about 400 mm by 400 mm. Now press holes into the dough with your fingers, fold it double, turn it 90 degrees and flatten it out to the original size again. Keep on repeating this for 10 to 20 times until dough is light, velvety and smooth. We call this process Colomba (dove) – it is like folding over the wings of a dove.
After you have used your 700 g Biga top the rest up with 300g plain flour and 400 g temperate tap water. Mix very well and leave at room temperature until it starts to bubble – depending on temperature it will take two to eight hours. Now put it in the fridge until 12 hours before the next baking, when you should take it out and allow it to become active before using. You can vary the 400 g water and 300 g flour so that the volume stays about the same, but always in the ratio of 4 : 3 :: water : flour. This will keep years if you treat it well and work clean at all times. Every so often you can re bottle to a clean sterilised bottle.
Back Yard Farmer
Tel – +64 211 34 14 52
Dunedin – New Zealand