Over the holidays, I got on a breadmaking kick that yielded some experimentation into more difficult breads. I’m a big fan of chewy ciabatta rolls, so when I found a few feasible recipes, I figured I would give them a try.
The recipe I used calls for an overnight preparation called Biga. Biga is essentially a yeast starter for bread. We used to do these for batches of beer, only malt extract instead of flour. It apparently improves the flavor of the rolls, as well as giving it a more complex and chewy character.
- 4 cups flour
- 2 cups (plus 2 tablespoons) water
- 2 teaspoons salt
Dissolve the biga into the water and break it up with your fingers to form a slurry. Add all the flour and salt. Stir until dough becomes thick and wet. Let rest for 10-20 minutes. Knead the dough until it takes on a smooth and glossy shine. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours in at room temperature, until tripled in bulk.
Dust a working surface with flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto it. Dust the dough lightly with flour. Using a pizza cutter, divide the dough into a roll sized pieces (about 16-18 depending on size).