Bread started from a "biga"

Heidi Hoerman


Unlike a sourdough starter, a biga is a fresh starter made the night before you intend to make bread. Biga is Italian; the French equivalent is poolish.

As with anything bread, there are literally hundreds of recipes and learned discussions of these fresh bread starters on the web.

This is my simple experiment that resulted in a wonderful light white bread.

pinch tips: How to Knead Dough




1 large loaf, two small loaves or 8-12 rolls


15 Hr


1 Hr


--for the biga--
1 c
bread flour
1 Tbsp
course salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
1 pkg
fast rising yeast
1 c
--to complete the bread--
3 to 4 c
bread flour (increase or decrease as needed)
1 c
2 Tbsp
olive oil

Directions Step-By-Step

10-12 hours before you intend to make the bread (longer if the room is cold), start the biga by stirring together the first four ingredients in a large bread bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow the biga to sit at room temperature for 10-12 hours. It will double in size and be full of holes, looking similar to the raw side of a pancake ready to be flipped.
Stir 3 cups of flour and the second cup of water into the biga until a raggy mass develops. Flop this onto a well floured counter and knead (push and fold) about 100 strokes, add flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands and the counter. Try to add as little flour as possible. Too dry a dough results in heavy bread.
Form the dough into a ball. Put 1 tablespoon of oil into the bread bowl and roll the ball of dough in it to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and put someplace warm and still to rise. An oven with the light on is a good rising environment. Allow to rise about 2 hours until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down, knead briefly and form into one large loaf, two small loafs, or rolls. The pictured loaves were made in a French bread pan lined with parchment paper.
Allow the formed loaves to rise another hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the risen loaves with the other tablespoon of olive oil. Bake about one hour. Longer for a large load, less time for rolls. As ovens differ, you will want to check the bread for doneness by rapping it on the bottom with your knuckle. It should sound hollow. If it thuds, cook ten more minutes and check again.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Breads
Other Tag: Quick & Easy