This is a slower ferment which improves the flavour and uses less yeast and is easier than sour dough. Sometimes called a “sponge” or “poolish” dough.
The Biga (Night Before)
140g Strong white flour, preferably organic 150g Water tepid ½ tsp Dried fast-action/easy bake yeast Mix into a slack dough, do not knead, in a bowl. Leave in the bowl covered in cling film/foil. Put in a warm place 15℃ - 20℃ (airing cupboard) for 24 hours. It will rise and drop back and it should look a bit bubbly.
The Dough (Next Day)
400g Strong white flour, preferably organic or 200g Strong white flour, preferably organic and 200g Strong wholemeal flour for a wholemeal rustic type of loaf 1 tsp Salt 170ml Water tepid 2 tbs Olive/Rape Seed Oil Add all ingredients into the Biga and mix together, tip out onto a floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. Put the dough into an oiled basin, covered in cling film/foil. Put in a warm place 15℃ - 20℃ (airing cupboard) for 2 hours or doubled in size. Shaping Tip out onto floured surface and knock back dough to remove any air bubbles. Then shape into a round by pinching the edges and pushing them into the centre of the loaf, then turn over and using both hands, backs flat to your table, turn the dough with the edges of your palms to gently stretch the crown of the loaf. Place the loaf onto a baking sheet covered tray or into a well floured Banneton. Proving Leave in a warm place again for 1½ hours to double in size. Cover with an upturned bowl to stop the dough skinning. Baking Mist the top with water and dust with flour, then with a very sharp knife slash the top of the loaf 3 or 4 times. If you have used the Banneton to prove your loaf place a baking paper covered tray over the Banneton and flip it over to tip the loaf out onto the tray. Careful you don’t drop the lot! I use a bit of oil to stick the paper to the tray and keep it in place when tipping it over. Immediately put the loaf into a preheated oven at 220℃ (200℃ Fan) for 35 minutes. If you like a crusty loaf after 10 minutes open the oven and carefully mist the loaf with water and extend baking time to 40 minutes. Cooling Take out of the oven and tip out onto a cooling rack. Covering the loaf with a tea towel will soften the crust a bit.