California Central Coast Recipes
Yeast starter for bread or Pizza Dough - Homemade Biga
A Yeast starter for bread or Pizza Dough, known as a Biga or a sponge, really can make all the difference in the world. The final taste of the finished product is more delicious and flavorful if you don't skip this preliminary step. It adds a real yeasty smell to the dough and helps the dough rise. It doesn't take but a few minutes to make this, but it does require planning ahead a day or two to make the Biga. -You want this to ferment at least thirty-six hours prior to use.
I use commercial yeast for the Biga. If you are adventurous (and more lucky than I am) you can try and make the Biga with only natural yeast captured from the air (in that case don't wrap the flour mixture with plastic wrap) Then it is known as a sour dough starter.
Preparation time: 10 minutesCooking time:
1 package dried yeast
1 Cup warm water (About 100 degrees)
2 Cups All-purpose flour (I use unbleached flour)
Note* You can use any type of flour you'd like the starter to taste like i.e. rye or whole wheat
1 Heat the water in a glass measuring cup for about twenty-three seconds in a microwave oven so that the water is warm. (About 100 degrees.)
2 Pour the water into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Gently sprinkle the opened package of yeast into the water and then stir well until the yeast is dissolved.
3 Add in the flour and mix thoroughly until "sticky-pasty". Be sure to mix well, scraping the flour off the sides of the bowl.
4 Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap then cover with a towel and place out of the way in a warm corner of the kitchen.
5 Let set ideally for two days.
6 After two days, either use as a starter for bread or pizza dough, or transfer to a sealed container with lid and refrigerate until use.
The Biga is best used the same week it is made, but I have refrigerated it and used it multiple times the same month. However, if you use a Biga right out of the refrigerator, it is cold and could stall the bread-fermenting process so you need to let the Biga warm up to room-temperature for best results before using.