The basis for the preparation of a perfect pizza starts with the biga, the pre-dough that will determine the consistency once out of the oven. The recipe for biga is a real science, so much so that there are more and more workshops throughout the country conducted by master pizza makers dedicated to its preparation. Here are some tips to get a perfectly balanced biga.
If you have already made your own the 5 rules for a quality pizza and established the new summer pizzas to be served in your room, the time has come to put your hands in the dough, and certainly you can not start from the biga. As you may know, a biga is a preparation based on water, flour and yeast, essential for a pizza with the right fragrance and optimal alveolation, able to thrill the public.
However, the recipe of the biga is still a subject much debated in the restaurant industry. In fact, many bakery professionals have developed their own version of this pre-mixed dough over time, following continuous improvement and experimentation, always according to precise parameters.
It is not by chance, in fact, that seminars dedicated to teaching how to prepare a perfect chariot continue to multiply almost everywhere, and are also part of professional courses for pizza makers. An aspect certainly not to be underestimated for those who work in this field, which in recent times has even tickled the curiosity of lovers of Neapolitan pizza, which by its nature provides a method of preparation in its own right.
Let’s see how to prepare the biga for pizza according to the advice of the most experienced Italian pizza makers, trying to understand the secrets and understand how to adapt the different doughs to different ovens and types of pizza.
Difference between biga and pizza with poolish method
Let’s start from the beginning, analysing the differences between the pizza biga and the preparation of the latter using the poolish method.
The type of dough is certainly the first point of the list: more solid for the biga, more liquid for the poolish. As you can easily guess, therefore, the two mixtures differ in the amount of water and flour mixed in the preparation. As a result, their function will also be different.
Poolish, for example, requires less leavening time than biga, which instead grows more slowly, making the pizza more digestible while retaining flavor and nutritional values of the product.
To this should be added that a long fermentation produces in the first dough essential aromatic substances for the finished product and that, if properly fermented, this dough behaves like a real yeast, and it will therefore be possible to reduce the amount of brewer’s yeast used in the subsequent stages of processing.
Pizza chariot usually requires very long leavening times (from 16 to 48 hours) and, as we will see below, it is essential to take into account many aspects, including the ambient temperature, in the most delicate phases of its preparation.
Recipe of the biga for pizza: how to prepare it
The first ever advice comes from Cristian Zaghini, who for years has been working as a teacher in some of the most famous schools for pizza makers in Italy. His technique for a perfect biga comes from many years of study that have gradually led him to the development of a personal recipe for the biga, or rather, two.
According to the Zaghini method, in fact, it is possible to distinguish between two different types of chariots:
- Short chariot, leavened for 16 hours
- Biga long, leavened for 48, of which the first 24 in the refrigerator at a temperature of 4°C and the remaining at 18°- 20°C, better if inside a special refrigerator called tie-bar, designed for this dough.
The preparation of the biga for pizza is a rigorous operation, not excessively complicated, but in any case the result of much experience and continuous handling.
To obtain an excellent biga, it is advisable to choose flours with a strength in terms of P/L of 0.40-0.60, and a W index higher than 300. Mixtures with medium strength flour (W 260- 280) are not able to offer an equally satisfactory result as they would not even withstand a minimum fermentation of 16 hours. The first step in preparing a perfect biga is therefore to carefully select the flour to be used.
The choice of flour is also essential to determine a second factor: the quantity and temperature of the water. A wholemeal flour chariot will absorb much more water than a chariot rich in starch. The fibres of wholemeal flours absorb about 7 times their weight in water, while the more refined ones stop at 3.
To calculate the right temperature of the water to be used in the preparation of the chariot is instead possible to opt for a simple equation:
55 (fixed coefficient) – (Flour Temperature + Ambient Temperature) = Water Temperature.
This means that for an ambient temperature of 30°C and a flour temperature of 28°C the optimal water temperature will be 3°C. For the dough of the biga in summer, when the humidity level is higher, it is necessary to reduce the quantity of water and yeast used, remembering to add 2g of salt for each kg of flour.
Again according to the Zaghini method, the time required for mixing the biga should not exceed 3 minutes with a spiral mixer, 6 minutes with a dip and 8 minutes with a fork.
The percentage of chariot for the preparation of a classic pizza varies from 10% to 30% of the final dough, while for pizza in shovel or baking tray can reach 100%. For this reason, the biga can be used to improve the size and the crumb of different types of pizza, from the Neapolitan to baking pan, produced by means of direct and indirect dough. More generally, the pre-mixing of the biga is optimal for all bakery products, from focaccia to the most extravagant and curious pizzas.
The average values for the composition of biga include water in the formula of 40-42% of the weight of the flour, and yeast, in 1% of the weight of the flour.
A recipe that divides professionals on the exact “science” behind its preparation.
Biga recipe: 3 mistakes not to be made
According to master Zaghini, there are essentially three most common errors to be avoided in the preparation of the chariot:
- Mixing too much, as it would create a too sudden maturation of the chariot due to the formation of saccharomyces cerevisiae.
- Kneading a little, dangerous because it does not allow a correct absorption of water, causing a dispersion of the yeast and potential rotting of the dough.
- Use of water higher than 44%, which causes higher humidity of the dough with consequent incorrect maturation and bad cellular growth.
Trying, trying again and, if necessary, following one or more specific courses for pizza makers on this subject will surely help you to reveal all the secrets for the preparation of a perfect chariot.