This is the first time I baked with the Biga/sponge/pre-ferment and I kicked myself for not having done it earlier. As much as I love baking, I was too lazy to go the Biga way though I had been reading about it for some time. I am so glad I finally did!
Biga/sponge/preferment/poolish defined – A combination of flour, water, and sometimes yeast that is prepared in advance (as in pre-fermentation) and then mixed into the main body of the dough as an additional ingredient. You can find a lot of information here on baking with preferment.
So basically it is a bit of dough you need to knead a night or (14 hours) ahead of your baking time.
Gibassier– this mildly sweet, pastry like, fruit flavoured French bread just stole my heart, and the boys all but applauded! Happiness and Joy: D
It is not difficult to bake. Just that it needs to be planned a day ahead to prepare the Biga- but totally worth it! We loved the beautiful texture and the heavenly aroma from the fresh orange juice used.
Gibassier is traditionally made with fruited olive oil and spiced with anise, candied orange peel and orange blossom water. Fancy ingredients like Orange Blossom water and candied orange peel are a farfetched dream in my small town so I used fresh fruit instead. I had an orange and some peaches and used these to bake the Gibassier. The flavours were beautiful!
For the Pre-ferment (Biga)
All Purpose Flour/Maida- 1 ½ cup
Milk- ½ cup milk
Instant yeast- 1/16 tsp
Making the Biga/Pre-ferment
The biga / pre-femented dough needs 14-16 hours to ferment. It is best to make it a night ahead of the day of baking. Mix all the ingredients listed above and knead into a soft dough. Put it in a greased bowl, cover and leave for about 16 hours (may need more time in case of cold weather). It doubles up and develops air pockets.
What I also did the previous night (Fruit zest mix)
I chopped the 3 peaches I had, juiced an orange, grated the zest. I dropped the peaches and the zest into the orange juice and left it covered in the refrigerator overnight, while the biga got done.
For the Dough
All the pre-ferment/ Biga from above
APF (All Purpose Flour)/Maida- 3 ¼ cup
Instant Yeast- 1 ¾ tsp
Warm water – 3 Tbsp and Sugar -1 tsp(to prove the yeast)
Olive oil- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp
1/3 cup butter ( slightly soft at room temperature)
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Anise seeds/ Saunf- 2 Tbsp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
For Glazing and Dusting the Gibassier
Melted ghee(clarified butter)- ½ cup
Powdered sugar/vanilla sugar/icing sugar- ½ cup (use as desired)
Warm 2 Tbsp water, stir in 1 tsp sugar and add the yeast. Leave covered to bloom for 10-15 minutes till it becomes frothy.
Mix the APF(Maida), salt, sugar and baking powder.
Add the anise and olive oil to the fruit zest mix.
Leave covered for another 40 minutes till they puff up nicely.
Preheat the oven at 180c (350F) for 20 minutes and bakefor 10 -15 minutes till they are nicely browned.
Remove and brush immediately with melted ghee/clarified butter.
Dust with powdered sugar/ icing sugar/vanilla sugar.
Serve warm or sit them under a hot grill for 7-8 minutes just before serving.
I made 6 gibassiers and used the rest of the dough to make these cuppies. These, warmed and topped with some chocolate sauce were heaven on the palate!
If you are too lazy to shape them, cuppies are the way to go 😉