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Ken Forkish 48-72 Hour Biga Pizza Dough


John Setzler
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I have read the Ken Forkish "The Elements of Pizza" book cover to cover and I'm ready to try my second pizza from his techniques.  I have started rebuilding a sourdough starter with his technique that I'll use next week sometime to make a pizza but this project is starting today with the 48-72 Hour Biga Pizza Dough recipe on page 120 of the book.

 

A "Biga" is another term for a preferment but this preferment is done with commercial yeast.  The preferment process is a simple procedure where you take some of your flour and water from the overall recipe and add a tiny bit of yeast and let that 'ferment' for a period of time in which the yeast multiplies and builds flavor character.  When the preferment is done (12-14 hours in this case) you add the rest of your flour, water, and salt to the Biga and mix your dough.  I will be modifying the recipe in the book because the book recipes are tailored for cooking in a home oven at 500-550 degrees.  Most of the doughs in the book are made at 70% hydration which is perfect for that temperature range.  I plan to cook these on my Blackstone oven at a much higher temp so I will be reducing the hydration of this dough to 60%.  

 

This recipe makes enough dough for 3 pizzas of approximately 12" in diameter.

 

48 hours before you plan to cook your pizza:

 

Mix the Biga:

 

140 grams 95°F Water

250 grams flour (preferably 00)

.2 grams yeast

 

If you can't weigh .2 grams, this is approximately 1/5 of 1/4 teaspoon.  So divide 1/4 tsp into 5 parts and one of those parts is how much you need for this :)

 

Place the yeast in the water and give it a gentle stir and let the yeast dissolve for a minute or two.  Add the flour and mix by hand until all the flour is incorporated and there is no dry flour left.  Stretch and fold the dough several times and then place in a 6 quart container with a lid and let sit at room temperature for 12-14 hours.  The Biga should triple in size and be visibly gassy.

 

8pm Wednesday Evening:

 

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250 grams of Antimo Caputo 00 Pizzaria Flour

 

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0.2 grams active dry yeast

 

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140 grams 95°F water

 

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6-quart Cambro... add the water and swirl the yeast in it until it's fully dissolved...

 

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Dump in the flour...

 

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Work the flour by hand to get the flour and water completely incorporated... folded and stretched several times during the process...

 

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Put the lid on the container and will let this sit for 12-13 hours before moving on to the next stage.  

 

For those interested in the time factor, it took about 10 minutes to weigh out my ingredients and get to the point of letting this sit...

 

After about 12 hours of rest we have this...

 

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This biga has risen and gassed up nicely...

 

Time to move on to the rest of the dough...

 

Another 250g of 00 flour...

 

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13g of fine sea salt...

 

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160g of 95°F water in the dough tub...

 

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Add the salt to the water in the tub and swirl until it's dissolved...

 

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Add the 250g flour...

 

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Mix by hand until you have a unified dough mass...

 

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Add the biga...

 

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Wet your hands to keep the dough from sticking and combine the two dough masses by squishing them together for several minutes to make sure they are thoroughly incorporated.

 

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Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

 

After it has rested covered for 20 minutes, turn it back out onto a lightly floured work surface...

 

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Knead by hand for about 30 seconds and then form into a dough ball...

 

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At this point, you can clean your tub or switch to a clean tub... lightly oil the tub...

 

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Place the dough ball in the tub seam side down and cover with a lid and let rest for another 45 minutes.

 

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After 45 minutes, remove the dough to a floured surface and dust it lightly with flour...

 

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I used my bench knife to segment the dough into three equal parts...

 

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I then stretched/folded each segment several times and then formed into a dough ball...

 

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I covered this with plastic wrap and it will now sit on the counter for two hours...

 

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At the end of the two hours, this will go into the fridge where it will stay until friday evening when I'm ready to make the pizzas.  This will be about 32 hours away.  I will remove the dough from the fridge 90 minutes before I am ready to start making the pizza to let it come to room temp.  

 

Here are the final photos:

 

These were cooked on the Blackstone oven at 900°F -

 

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These were my best tasting pizzas to date.  This crust is seriously delicious.  I can't wait to try the same recipe using the sourdough starter.  Hopefully I'll get to try that one in a couple weeks.  

 

The taste is perfect.  My shortcoming now is my ability to properly stretch and shape the dough into a proper pizza crust.  I need some practice with that and will keep working on it.  I may make a double batch of this dough next week and just use it to practice shaping crusts...

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A friend of mine let me borrow his copy of Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast, and I have been having a blast with it.  I like the bread it makes a lot, and tried using some of it for pizza dough as well.  I haven't read his instructions specific to making pizza dough, but used half of the dough from one of his bread recipes as he recommended.  Having not read all his pizza instructions that may have changed something, but I actually like the 2-hour pizza dough I've made more than the more time-consuming one.

 

That said, I did use the leftovers of my own sourdough starter like a poolish/bigga, still using a good amount of yeast, let the bulk ferment for a couple hours, rolled it out, and THAT produced probably the best pizza crust I've made yet.  Will share some photos on another thread.

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2 hours ago, zero said:

A friend of mine let me borrow his copy of Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast, and I have been having a blast with it.  I like the bread it makes a lot, and tried using some of it for pizza dough as well.  I haven't read his instructions specific to making pizza dough, but used half of the dough from one of his bread recipes as he recommended.  Having not read all his pizza instructions that may have changed something, but I actually like the 2-hour pizza dough I've made more than the more time-consuming one.

 

That said, I did use the leftovers of my own sourdough starter like a poolish/bigga, still using a good amount of yeast, let the bulk ferment for a couple hours, rolled it out, and THAT produced probably the best pizza crust I've made yet.  Will share some photos on another thread.

Then you should try the forkish pizza book.  He says he changed many parts of his pizza making between the time org books were published. 

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I added the photos of the Biga process to the original post.  I am curious about one thing though... Since I am modifying a 70% hydration recipe to a 60% hydration recipe, I wonder if the biga process will be affected by that in any way.  As I dissected the recipe in the book, one interesting thing I noticed was that the Biga was 66% hydration and the final dough ingredients were 74% which would balance out at 70%.  My biga hydration is 56% and the final mix add in will be 64% to balance out at 60%.  

 

In theory, I could make the biga whatever hydration I want as long as my final dough ends up where I want it to be.  I don't know if it would benefit from more or less hydration... or suffer by the same token.

 

@Mewantkj @ckreef - thoughts?

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Biga and another form of preferment, just like a pooish. To the best of my knowledge they are defined as a stiff preferment.  Just like a lower hydration SD starter has a slightly different flavor than a higher hydration starter, this biga should have slight flavor difference than your previous preferment.   Any way you put it, this will be a awesome pie. 

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16 minutes ago, ckreef said:

I know in the end more hydration makes a lighter dough with a better crumb. (more airy) I haven't worked much with a specific preferment/sour dough type starter so the above statement was sort of general. (you probably knew that already) 

 

 

 

I am not so sure about that... This photo was a 58% hydration dough...

 

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3 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

 

I am not so sure about that... This photo was a 58% hydration dough...

 

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As a general rule CK absolutely correct.  65% hydration at the temp this pizza was baked at would look different. I assume above pizza was 900-1000 F bake ? 

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John, I totally love this and am following along. I ordered Elements of Pizza from Amazon when I saw your first pizza post from it. I have been reading and digesting it ever since. I made a Saturday dough and am very keen to try some more. I thought I could cook a pretty good pie before, but Elements of Pizza has truly stepped up my game. Thanks for the posts. When I did the Saturday pie I dropped my normal cook temp from 650 to 550 and really liked the results with that pie. I am really having fun. 

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8 hours ago, keeperovdeflame said:

John, I totally love this and am following along. I ordered Elements of Pizza from Amazon when I saw your first pizza post from it. I have been reading and digesting it ever since. I made a Saturday dough and am very keen to try some more. I thought I could cook a pretty good pie before, but Elements of Pizza has truly stepped up my game. Thanks for the posts. When I did the Saturday pie I dropped my normal cook temp from 650 to 550 and really liked the results with that pie. I am really having fun. 

 

The saturday pie is the only one I have made so far prior to this one as well.  The picture I posted above of the slice came from that recipe but I changed it up.  I cooked it at 58% hydration at 900 degrees.  I am modifying this version also for a 900 degree cook so I will document that in the original post as well.  The 500-550 degree cooks should be hydrated at 70% instead of 60%.  

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Those are some really tasty looking pizzas. Going to try this dough out next time I make pizzas probably this week. Keep in mind for me to switch off the KA Artisan dough I've been using and try something different is the absolute highest pizza compliment from me. My pizza experimenting days are over but those look good enough to try it. 

 

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