Bread Dough Flavor Enhancement

While it's not quite a flavorful as a full blown sourdough, there are some ways to push the flavor in that direction without having to feed and maintain a wild horse sourdough starter long term in your fridge.

In French, it's called a polische, in Italian a biga. It can be as simple as 1/4 tsp yeast, 2/3 cup of water and 1-1/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour mixed until smooth and allowed to ferment covered at room temperature for six to twelve hours.

This concoction will not provide any real leavening for the bread dough to which it is added. You still need to add more yeast to the actual bread dough when you mix it, but the biga will enhance the flavor considerably. If I know I'll baking the next day, I'll mix a biga before I go to bed and just let it sit out on the counter overnight. Not much in the way of extra effort, but you get a lot of bang for the buck flavor wise.

Bakers started experimenting with bigas and polisches after Louis Pasteur's work lead to the production of cultured yeasts to replace wild horse levains. Cultured yeast was more predictable, but the bread it produced was lacking in flavor. The addition of a biga was a compromise to restore some of the flavor.



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