Friday, January 11, 2008

Biga bread

This is a lovely chewy bread that's a great one for garlic bread or sandwiches. The first time I made it, it didn't rise much for me, and (perhaps due to our more humid weather) the dough was stickier & spread more. I am not an experienced bread baker, but even so, this bread was easy and delicious, and might be a good one for experimentations with add-ins.

I made the bread again today adding more flour, and it's pretty much perfect(!)

¼ t yeast
½ C cool water
1 C flour

Sprinkle yeast over water, let dissolve. Add flour, mix well. Cover and chill 24 hours before using. Can be stored in the fridge up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 cup.


¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 C cool water
1 t sugar
¼ C Biga
2 T soy milk
optional: 1 T finely chopped garlic (or rosemary, dill, or other herb)
¾ t salt
3 – 3 1/4 Cups flour
½ t coarse salt
small amount of coarse cornmeal (optional)

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and sugar or honey, let yeast dissolve. Add biga, milk, garlic or rosemary, regular salt, and 2 Cups of flour. Mix well, and then knead in ¾ Cup more flour to create slightly sticky dough. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until doubled.

Punch down dough and knead briefly. On a floured board, shape dough into a smooth ball. Place on a well floured baking sheet optionally sprinkled with a bit of coarse cornmeal (this really helps with transfering the bread to the oven, and adds to the bread's texture, I think). Cover with plastic and let rise again about an hour, or until springy when lightly touched*.

At least 30 minutes before baking, place baking stone or a large baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees. With a sharp knife or razor slash top of dough, sprinkle cut with coarse salt. Mist the dough and walls of oven with spray bottle filled with water. Slide dough onto hot stone or baking pan, bake for about 35 minutes, or until bread is deep golden brown. Cool on rack.

When I made this the first time, the damned plastic stuck to the dough (see ref to humid environment), so that when I pulled it away part of the top came away with it. I tried to slash at the dough but gave up, and I think the plastic damage sufficed to allow expansion. This didn't really hurt the bread's appearance, but next time I think I'll add more flour to my dough.

The second time round, I simply coated the dough with olive oil and upended the bowl over it - this worked really well.

recipe source

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