Jim’s Sourdough Biga

Making biga will give you a superior lift in your sourdough bread. It is perfect for those occasional bakers who make it only once a week. Store at room temperature for a week or in the refrigerator for safekeeping until you are ready to use it. Allow 24 hours before you use the biga from the refrigerator.


70 grams (a scant 1/3 cup) room-temperature (65-70 degrees)water

10 grams (scant 1 tablespoon) refreshed and active fermented starter 

100 grams (Half a cup plus 3 tablespoons) of unbleached all-purpose flour

0.1 grams ( a tiny pinch) of fine sea salt

Mix together the water and the refreshed starter in a small bowl. Add the flour and a few grains of salt only. The dough will be lumpy, uneven, and small. Cover the bowl and prepare to wait about 24 hours for it to triple in size. Don’t be dismayed if nothing happens for the first 12 hours. it takes a while to get going, but once the fermentation starts, it will take off, and it is likely to grow more in the final 4 hours than it did in the first 16.  

Poke at it and taste it, a fully fermented biga is pleasantly tangy with a fantastically airy, spongy, viscous structure. It will feel tacky, and it will taste and smell deliciously yeasty with a gentle tartness. At this point, it’s ready to be used. You may note color changes in the biga as the top layer dries out and oxidizes a bit; this is perfectly fine and to be expected. 

If you are ready to use your biga or not,  that is fine. This is the great thing about biga it has a large window of time to use, and it keeps unrefrigerated for several days. Keep your biga in a cool enough environment. If it is above 72 degrees you will probably want to store your biga in the refrigerator. 

If you biga is tasting and smelling tart, yeasty, and sweet, it is very healthy. When it is horribly acidic, for instance, it is time to make a new batch. 

Storing your biga for a matter of weeks or months, cover it tightly, and store it back in the refrigerator. A biga may discolor slightly and become like glue. That is fine-if it still smells yeasty and like alcohol. Twenty-four hours before you plan to bake, take a teaspoon of biga and follow the steps for making more. Once this biga has tripled in size it is ready to use. 

To make more:

5 grams fermented biga 

70 grams (a scant 1/3 cup) room-temperature (65-70 degrees)water

100 grams (Half a cup plus 3 tablespoons) of unbleached all-purpose flour

0.1 grams ( a tiny pinch) of fine sea salt

Dissolve the biga in the water and mix with flour and salt. Wait until the mixture has risen 24 hours, then the new biga is ready to use for baking.

3 thoughts on "Jim’s Sourdough Biga"

  1. EllenMarie says:

    I like your recipe for biga. Do you have a go-to bread recipe that incorporates this biga?

  2. Use the biga like you would yeast or sourdough.

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