BIGA STARTER* (making starter for Italian bread making)
1 cup cold water, chlorine free, preferably
- ¼ teaspoon rapid yeast
- ¾ cup AP organic flour (may use a touch of whole wheat organic flour)
DAY 1: combine water and yeast and let stand until yeast is dissolved; mix in flour and let stand, uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours; add an additional cup of water and ¾ cup flour to feed your starter on DAY 2. DAY 3: repeat day 2–at the end of 24 hours day 3, it is ready to use; keep refrigerated until using. When you use some, add to it the amount you remove. If you remove 1 cup of “biga” add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. If you don’t use biga for a week, be sure to feed it again with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour once a week each week you do not use it in a recipe.
*“Starter” (also know as “biga” in Italian) is an active yeast culture maintained separately from a bread recipe but that is used for making bread.
• A “sponge” is the actual step in bread recipes where a mixture of the ingredients, including the commercial yeast, a starter or both, is left to ferment for a time in the bowl before the rest of the ingredients are added. It is very wet, loose, unstructured dough. Once it is fully developed, a portion can be set aside and maintained as a “starter” for future bread batches.
• A starter is designed to be used in place of active commercial yeast. However “starter” reacts more slowly than commercial yeasts, but worth the wait as results in more flavors in the bread.
• A starter may also be cultivated from wild yeasts, which are also known as “sour” starters, because along with wild yeast comes bacteria that break down the starch of the flour and enable the yeast to feed on sugar and grow. This process adds to the flavor of the bread. Sometimes recipes use both dry yeast and starter.