Sunday, January 13, 2008

BIGA WATCH 2008!!!!!


I've decide to jump in to the murky world of 'starters' for sourdough bread (biga). I think I can trace this sad turn of events to the fact that my children are gone and as of yet there are no grandchildren I can devote myself to. From what I've read and been told, harboring a starter is like having a child, a pet, or a sick husband constantly whinning for attention. I'm either lonely or not drinking enough. (note to self: get that gallon of Kahlua going tomorrow)

I'm not going into this alone, my friend Mary-Beth is giving birth to her own starter, we're planning on play dates for our pets later. We decided to use the simplest of recipes for the starter, that way if it fails we won't cry too much if we have to flush it.


1 cup warm water
1 cup bread flour

Mix and cover. Every day for 4 days take 1 cup full of mix out and toss it, replace it with 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup flour, cover. Once it starts to bubble, put in the refrigerator and feed it once a week. Simple! Bubbles, my biga, started burping up yeast at the end of the first day and excreting hooch (a liquid, much like a wet baby). He is currently on his third day and very happy (yes Bubbles is a he, hoping for a Broadway career later in life).

Then Xoch called....I now have a second starter. This second starter is going to make the first one look tame. The second one, named Fizz, is going to be the trouble child. Xoch got the recipe from a cookbook named Made In Italy, by Giorgio Locatelli. Fizz (he will be ADHD), will be demanding much more of my attention than Bubbles, I'm hoping to survive the first 3 weeks of Fizz.

1 pear, grated
1 (250 g.) cup warm water
1 (250 g.) cup bread flour

Soak grated pear in the warm water for 24 hours. Strain and save the pear water, whisk in the flour and put in a tall glass container, mark the level and cover. Every day, for 3 long weeks, remove 3/4 of the biga to a bowl, refresh with 3/4 cup (200 g.) warm water and 1 1/2 cups (400 g.) flour (henceforth this process shall be referred to as 'refresh'). Scrub out the glass jar, return mix and wait for tomorrow. Oh yes, you will be enslaved by this little white evil mix for the next 21 days (I have to go to Las Vegas next week, I hope Barbara or Mary-Beth can babysit).

Fizz will be ready to leave home once he triples in size in the first 8 hours after being refreshed. He will then be refreshed again, and put in the freezer to await my command. When needed, defrost, take out what is needed for the recipe, put 3/4 of what's left in a bowl, refresh and freeze.

I haven't introduced The Don to his new children yet. I'm waiting until after the weekend, on Friday his little friends come over. They hang out at the square (a big deck around a tree tricked out with an outdoor kitchen), they BBQ, drink beer, listen to loud music and solve the problems of the world. I know he can't be trusted to babysit the children, he might let one of his little friends drink them! This will be an ongoing saga, more to come.

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