Biga Baking fever on! And I am amazed as to what a bit of dough, kneaded a day ahead, can do to the bread- such lovely nutty flavour and the texture, oh-so-wonderful! This time I decided to go whole-wheat, well at least in part 🙂
Made some garlic flakes and garlic powder at home and flavoured the bread here with that and some fresh and dried herbs. The aroma wafting from the oven made the waiting period a task! I played around-well, a lot to be honest- with the basic ingredients and measures I had used to bake the Gibassier and baked a Herbed Garlic loaf and three baguettes.
The recipe below bakes two 9”x5” loaves
Or 6 baguettes 6” each.
For the Pre-ferment (Biga)
All Purpose Flour/Maida- 1 ½ cup
Milk- ½ cup milk
Instant yeast- 1/16 tsp
Preferment, noun: 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.
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 to 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 develops large air pockets.
For the Dough
All of the Biga
Whole wheat flour 1 ½ cup
All purpose flour 1 ¾ cups
Salt- 1 tsp
Baking powder- ½ tsp
Warm water- 1 cup (to knead the dough)
All the pre-ferment/ Biga from above
Instant yeast- 1 ¾ tsp
Warm water- ¾ cup (to prove the yeast)
Sugar- 2 tsp (to prove the yeast)
Garlic Powder- 2 heaped tsp
Oregano- 1 tsp
Parsley- ½ tsp
Rosemary- ¼ tsp
Chili flakes- ½ tsp
Black pepper powder- ½ tsp
1/4 cup olive oil
Butter- 2 Tbsp
Start with blooming the yeast. Warm ¾ cup of water and add the sugar and the yeast. The water should feel warm on the underside on your wrist. Leave covered for 10-15 minutes till the mixture froths well.
Meanwhile, mix the flours, salt and baking powder. Add the garlic powder, spices and herbs- oregano, rosemary, parsley, pepper and chili flakes. Mix well.
Break the Biga into chunks and add to the flour. Mix everything well with a wooden spatula.
Add the warm water gradually and knead for 7-10 minutes. Add the olive oil and knead till it is incorporated into the dough.
Add the butter and knead till for another five minutes. The dough will now be supple and non-sticky.
Transfer to a greased bowl, cover it and leave for 1 and ½ – 2 hours till the dough doubles up.
Transfer to a work surface and shape either as two loaves or six baguettes. I made a loaf and three baguettes.
Move the loaf to a greased loaf tin and prove for an hour till it the loaf is well risen.
For the baguettes, shape into long cylinders with gentle hands and leave them to prove. I didn’t have the required ‘couche’ to keep the baguettes in shape during the second prove but this homespun style works great!
I made my homemade “couche” out of aluminium foil and cling film rolls covered with greased butter paper. Rolled kitchen towels or placemats draped with parchment paper are other choices This couche provides the required support to keep the baguettes in shape during the second prove else they would flatten .
We used the baguettes to make some cheesy bruscetta.
Here is an excellent guide on how to shape a baguette.