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Biga Acida (Innovative) Pagnotta

Italian biga acida/sour dough, using Italian '00' flour and strong bread flour. Based on a recipe from Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington 'Exceptional Breads'. The original recipe called for the inclusion of honey which made the bread too sweet for my taste. I have made this without honey and it works well and suited better to my personal taste. I replaced the wholemeal with spelt and used strong Canadian bread flour. Allow 5 days to make this bread. On the day of baking it could take up to 8 hours from the first kneading until the loaves are ready to go in the oven.

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Biga acida

Juice of 2 oranges

2 tsp of wholemeal spelt

60g Italian '00' flour

100g strong Canadian bread flour

100ml spring water

Refreshment mixture

150g Italian '00' flour

100ml spring water


Place the biga acida ingredients in a bowl and whisk for about 10 minutes. I used an electric hand whisk for this.

Cover and leave in a warm place idealy at 28c for 24 hours. ( My kitchen or airing cupboard is never this warm but fermented ok. )

After 24 hours the top should be pocked with little holes. Leave to ferment for a further 24 - 48 hours. I let the biga develope for the 48 hours.

Pour the biga acida into a bowl and add the refreshment ingrediants and whisk for 4 minutes. Cover and leave at room temprature for 4 - 6 hours, then refrigerate over night, the biga is now ready to use.



500g biga acida at room temprature

250g strong Canadian bread flour

250g Italian '00' flour

125ml water

1 tbsp salt


Combine the biga and flours and whisk slowly adding the water and beat together, continue to beat for 8 - 10 minutes. I did this by hand but a good electric mixer would do the job.

Coat the dough in a little olive oil and place in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

After an hour tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With the palm and heel of your hand firmly tap the dough out into a rough rectangle. Fold in half, then fold in three the other way like a blanket. Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and rest for another hour.

Repeat the deflating and folding process each hour for the next three hours, covering the dough with clingfilm each time.

Tip the dough out on a floured work surface and knead lightly into a ball. Cut in half and shape to be placed into a proving basket. I shaped the dough to be placed in round proving baskets, oval baskets would work well too. Cover the baskets with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 3 - 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250c with a baking stone on the middle shelf. Test the dough is ready when pressing a finger lightly on the surface of the dough it should spring back to its orginal shape. Dust a peel with semolina, upturn one of the baskets and let the dough fall on the peel, score with a lame or razor blade, open the oven door swiftly and slide the loaf to one side of the baking stone, closing the oven door immediatley. Wait for 2 minutes and repeat this prcedure with the second loaf. After 10 minutes reduce the oven temprature from 250c to 180c and bake for a further 25 minutes or until the loves sound hollow when tapped on the base.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Shipton Mill flours used for this bread recipe.

Added by: Andyw3

Tags: Bread White Sourdough

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Biga Acida - Pagnotta

Hi Andy - ok so your method basically follows that of Dan's (Dan Lepard). The Biga tends to work better if refreshment also includes some fresh orange juice. The trouble with only involving orange juice at the beginning is that the acid-loving yeasts will proliferate while those that dislike acid will not. As Dan's refreshment only uses water, any acid-specific flavours that you introduce initially will eventually disappear because the acid in the mix also disappears - and so the leavening will tend to revert to a typical sourdough mix. The Vitamin C also gives the leavening a little help!. The use of orange juice in the refreshment does tend to produce stronger flavours and so the addition of some honey - not too much - does help flavours becoming too strong without adding any real sweetness. What I do is to split the flour mix into two parts - in the first part I add all of the biga, about 50% of the flour, olive oil, all of the liquid - which can be all water or a mixture of water and beer - some honey, and about 2g of yeast, give it a good stir, to turn it into a thick cream, cover it with a damp cloth and leave overnight - about 12 hours. The next day I add in the remaining flour and salt, knead it for about five minutes and then basically follow Dan's process. It can easily take the best part of 24 hours to produce the bread but the flavours are great - and it lasts well too With a little tweaking one can also use this process to create a great fruit loaf. Cheers Alex

Alex Grinsted 19 November 2014

RE: Biga Acida - Pagnotta

Hi Alex, thanks for your interesting comments. Good points about the refreshment and the possibility of the mix reverting back to a typical sour dough if orange juice is not added at the refreshment stage, I must admit I had not thought of that. I can see where your coming from with this though. With Dan Lepard's method and the amount of honey he suggests, I could taste to much sweetness and hardly any sour. After I dropped the honey completely, the bread did keep a light citrus tone which worked with the sour flavour. I think your method of adding some orange juice and honey at the refreshment stage will work. The next time I make this bread, sometime over the next couple of weeks, I will give your method a try and let you know how it goes. Andy

Andyw3 22 November 2014

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