After a rather lovely meal at Tabla on Friday night (pretty sure they make their own butter), I’ve decided to master making ciabatta. I spent some time getting to the heart of exactly what is responsible for the thin chewy windows of dough beneath a serious crust, and it seems that the answer is biga. Biga is a pre-ferment used in making Italian breads, a precursor to the standard yeast/water/flour/salt containing all but the salt, and is meant to be a shortcut (ready after 12 hours) to the depth of flavor that a more familiar but slower-to-react starter like sourdough can provide. The French equivalent is poolish, a mixture with a much higher hydration. If this works, I’ll be messing around with other variants, but for now it’s all about the biga.

So. The biga. It’s hella dry, much more than expected. I mixed it and set it to rest at 12:45, so tomorrow morning I’ll find out what happened and go from there. I decided to start with a pretty basic recipe, and if this works even halfway, I’ll start monkeying around with the details.


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