The 2016 edition of Bread Baking Day is underway! Founder, Zorra, challenged us to bake a bread using biga. I chose a recipe from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, a whole wheat pizza dough.
Biga (on the left) and Soaker (on the right):
Resting balls of dough:
No difficulties to report, thankfully, although I did have a momentary doubt when making the actual pizza. The dough is very slack, so I rolled it onto parchment paper, then slid the whole thing into the oven. The pizza baked up beautifully and tasted delicious, with the crust having that yummy, firm pizza pull.
Now, I have four more pizzas to make and consume in the next few days. For the first one, I opted for a pizza bianca, using mozzarella, prosciutto, oregano, and spinach. We'll see what toppings I can devise for the remaining ones.
Be sure and stop by Zorra's website in a few days to see all the biga-based breads.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
(makes enough dough for 5 personal pizzas)
Whole Wheat Soaker
227 g whole wheat flour
4 g salt (½ teaspoon)
198 g. water
Mix everything together in a medium bowl for about 1 minute until flour has absorbed all the water and the dough starts to form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. If you need to hold it longer, it can be refrigerated up to 3 days.
227 g whole wheat flour
1 g instant or rapid-rise yeast (¼ teaspoon)
198 g filtered or spring water, at room temperature
Mix everything in a large bowl until it forms a ball. Using wet hands (it's very sticky), knead in the bowl for 2 minutes until the flour has fully absorbed the water and there are no lumps. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Knead for another minute with wet hands. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
1 whole wheat Soaker recipe
1 whole wheat Biga recipe
7 tablespoons whole wheat flour + plus more for rolling/shaping
⅝ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 ¼ teaspoons honey or 1 tablespoon brown or coconut sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Make sure to remove the biga (and soaker if it was refrigerated) from the fridge 2 hours before mixing the final dough. Using a metal bench scraper or knife dipped in flour, cut the soaker and biga into 12 chunks each. Toss in flour to keep from sticking back into one blob. Toss chunks into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the 7 tablespoons flour, salt, yeast, honey, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Using the paddle attachment, mix on slow speed to combine all the ingredients. When the dough is combined, knead for 2 minutes with the dough hook on medium-low speed. Add more flour if the dough seems very wet, or a bit more flour if the dough seems too dry - it should be slightly sticky so resist the temptation to add too much.
Continue kneading with the dough hook for another 3-4 minutes. The dough should be soft and "tacky," on the verge of sticky. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon mat, and drizzle the remaining ½ tablespoon oil on the parchment or mat.
Knead the dough for another minute, adding flour (or water) to prevent sticking or if it seems too dry. You know you have developed the gluten sufficiently when it passes the windowpane test, but it should still be soft and slightly sticky. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (between 6 ¼ oz. and 6 ¾ oz. each) and form into tight balls. Place on the prepared sheet plan and roll in the olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit while you get your pizza stone hot, about 1 hour. If you can't use all the dough at that time, you can refrigerate it, well wrapped to prevent drying out, for up to 24 hours before it must be used*.
Turn on the oven as hot as it will go on bake (usually 500 to 550°F). If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven and let it heat up for an hour. If you don't have a pizza stone, put a flat sheet pan (or an upside down rimmed pan) in the oven for about 10 minutes to get it really hot. Roll out a ball of dough until it is about 12" in diameter. (I rolled it on parchment paper, since it was very soft, then transferred the dough and parchment paper onto the heated stone. I removed the paper for the last few minutes so the bottom crust could firm up.) Place on a floured peel or another flat sheet pan. Give it a shake to make sure it isn't sticking. Top with your preferred toppings. Slide the pizza onto the hot sheet pan or stone in the oven. Bake for about 7 minutes. The bottom and edges should be nicely browned. A small bit of char is OK. Remove it with the peel or by sliding it off onto a plate.
Allow pizza to sit for a few minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to set up. Repeat process with the rest of the dough balls.
*If you have refrigerated the final dough, allow it to warm up for 2 hours before rolling out. When you take it out of the fridge, gently press it down to remove the bubbles that formed in the dough, and cover it with plastic again so it doesn't dry out.