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Monday, November 14, 2011

Peasant bread - wholemeal flour and rye

    A biga is a type of bread starter, used often for Italian breads. One example of the biga-based bread is the Italian ciabatta.

    Biga normally has a hydration of 60%, that is, it contains 6 parts water to 10 parts flour. This composition is the reason for its light, open texture with a moist crumb.

    Unlike other normal breads, biga takes longer to rise, but the end result is totally worth the wait. The unusually long fermentation helps form lactic acid, which not only enhances the keeping quality of the bread, but also gives it a nutty aroma and a complex flavour.

    Like its cousin sourdoughs, biga -based bread is sturdy and robust, making it a good sandwich base to hold gamey meat, strong cheeses and heavy sauces.
    My perfect sandwich out of this is to spread a thin layer of blue cheese,  slap on some sliced avocado,  chicken breast and German sausage, throw a picnic mat on a grassy patch, bring out the champagne and watch the world go by.

    Makes 1 loaf.

    Ingredients :

    Biga ( overnight ) :
    Water- lukewarm 
    Bread flour
    Whole wheat flour
    Rye flour
    Instant yeast
    1 pinch

    Final dough :
    Water ( lukewarm )
    Malt syrup
    Overnight biga
    Bread flour
    Whole wheat flour
    Rye flour
    Instant yeast

    To prepare overnight biga :

    Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
    Create a hollow in the center of the flour.
    Add water. Mix and knead. 2 minutes.
    The dough will start off rather dry but becomes more knead-able and holds together after some kneading.
    Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl, covered.
    Chill for 2 hours.
    Remove the biga dough and leave it at room temperature, 12 hours.
    After 12 hours, the bida will loosen up and look more like bread dough.

    Final dough :
    Break up biga manually.
    Combine dry ingredients of final dough, except salt ,  in a separate bowl. Set aside.
    In a mixing bowl, add water, malt  and biga. Mix , 2 minutes.
    Add dry ingredients into biga mix and knead, 3 minutes.
    Cover dough and let rest for 15 minutes.

    Add salt to the rested dough. Knead again, 3 minutes.
    By now, you should expect gluten formation in the dough.
    Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and let it ferment for 1 hour, covered.
    Dough is ready for the next stage when it springs back when lightly touched.

    Shaping your loaf :

    Transfer dough from bowl to a floured worktop.
    Make into a round mound.

    Line a bowl with a floured cloth.
    Transfer dough to cloth, seam side up.
    Cover and let it ferment again, about 40 minutes.
    It is ready when springs back when lightly touched.

    Baking preparation :

    Preheat oven to 250C, with a shallow tray of water to create steam.
    Invert dough from cloth to a baking tray, seam side down.
    Mist spray with water.
    Wait for 5 minutes.
    Score the bread with a very sharp knife.
    Mist spray again.

    Bake the bread at 230C for 20 minutes.
    Bread is ready when it doesn't yield when pressed.

    Cool thoroughly before cutting.

    Credits : from 'Artisans Breads' by Eric Kastel

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