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• #1 by Pod4477 on 04 Nov 2019
• I'm trying to figure out how to input this biga recipe, below, into the preferment calculator
https://bakerpedia.com/processes/biga/ which is

Water: 50–60%
Fresh yeast: 0.8–1.5%  or
Instant yeast: 0.1%

The fields are:
How would you like your preferment expressed? % of Total Flour, % of Total Water, % of Total Dough Weight
Enter desired preferment amount: __%
Enter your preferment's percentage of water: __%

I'm planning on using IDY and can't figure out mainly how to enter water amounts into the calculator.  Also, does the yeast amount in the biga get added to the yeast amount in the dough, and that total value gets entered into the yeast percentage in the calculator?  Thank you!
• #2 by Pete-zza on 04 Nov 2019
• Pod4477,

The way the preferment dough calculating tool is designed, you first have to come up with a basic dough recipe. Then you have to decide how much of the natural preferment you want to use. That amount can be specified by any one of the three methods you cited. The reason for the three methods is because recipes are often cited by one of the three methods. The preferment dough calculating tool is not intended to be used for commercially leavened preferments. But it might come reasonably close if the amount of commercial yeast for the biga is low since that won't throw off the numbers too much. But you will still have to tweak the numbers for the commercial yeast to get the right amounts for the total recipe and the biga. The preferment and final dough mix numbers add up to the numbers for the basic recipe.

Earlier today, I cited a couple of articles for you to consider reading, at Reply 463 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=54120.msg599633#msg599633

If you can get your arms and mind around the principles set forth in the two articles, you should be in good shape. You might also want to search the forum for posts for doughs using bigas (in the classical sense) to get some ideas as to quantities of bigas to use and other possibly useful information. As an example, Tony G has a recipe that uses a preferment that he calls a tiga. And it uses commercial yeast. I played around with Tony's recipe at Reply 12 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=39124.msg391237#msg391237

And when you perhaps were a mere child  , back in 2005, I played around with bigas at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=986.msg8806#msg8806

Peter
• #3 by Pod4477 on 04 Nov 2019
• Pod4477,

The way the preferment dough calculating tool is designed, you first have to come up with a basic dough recipe. Then you have to decide how much of the natural preferment you want to use. That amount can be specified by any one of the three methods you cited. The reason for the three methods is because recipes are often cited by one of the three methods. The preferment dough calculating tool is not intended to be used for commercially leavened preferments. But it might come reasonably close if the amount of commercial yeast for the biga is low since that won't throw off the numbers too much. But you will still have to tweak the numbers for the commercial yeast to get the right amounts for the total recipe and the biga. The preferment and final dough mix numbers add up to the numbers for the basic recipe.

Earlier today, I cited a couple of articles for you to consider reading, at Reply 463 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=54120.msg599633#msg599633

If you can get your arms and mind around the principles set forth in the two articles, you should be in good shape. You might also want to search the forum for posts for doughs using bigas (in the classical sense) to get some ideas as to quantities of bigas to use and other possibly useful information. As an example, Tony G has a recipe that uses a preferment that he calls a tiga. And it uses commercial yeast. I played around with Tony's recipe at Reply 12 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=39124.msg391237#msg391237

And when you perhaps were a mere child  , back in 2005, I played around with bigas at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=986.msg8806#msg8806

Peter

Thank you!  Haha you would know the tool, since you co-created it, it seems So to make sure I'm getting it correct, for that recipe I posted, I would input 50-60% water under the "Enter your preferment's percentage of water" field?  And if I want 5% biga in the total pizza dough, the radio button option of "% of Total Dough Ball Weight" and then 5% under "Enter desired preferment amount: __%"

The links you provided are awesome and 2005 brings back memories haha.  I believe the IDY amounts are so low that it won't throw off the yeast percentages too much as you stated, and I remember that being the case when making a 15 hour biga for Scali bread.  Also, I saw in your thread, one of the users recommended 2 weeks for the biga.  That is pretty close with what I found to be a good range for fermentation flavors.  And with that biga and sourdough starter, you said you don't like to remove some of the ferment when you feed it.  I would love to try this, as I couldn't stand the mess created with weighing out old starter and using a bowl to discard it.  Obviously if it gets to big I'd have to divide it up, but you found this to work well?
• #4 by Pete-zza on 05 Nov 2019
• So to make sure I'm getting it correct, for that recipe I posted, I would input 50-60% water under the "Enter your preferment's percentage of water" field?  And if I want 5% biga in the total pizza dough, the radio button option of "% of Total Dough Ball Weight" and then 5% under "Enter desired preferment amount: __%"

The links you provided are awesome and 2005 brings back memories haha.  I believe the IDY amounts are so low that it won't throw off the yeast percentages too much as you stated, and I remember that being the case when making a 15 hour biga for Scali bread.  Also, I saw in your thread, one of the users recommended 2 weeks for the biga.  That is pretty close with what I found to be a good range for fermentation flavors.  And with that biga and sourdough starter, you said you don't like to remove some of the ferment when you feed it.  I would love to try this, as I couldn't stand the mess created with weighing out old starter and using a bowl to discard it.  Obviously if it gets to big I'd have to divide it up, but you found this to work well?
Pod4477,

To give you an idea as to how the preferment dough calculating tool works, assume that you want to use a specified amount of biga that has a hydration value of 50%. Let's assume that the amount of biga you want to use is 5% of the total dough ball weight. Let us further assume that you want the biga to use 100 grams of flour. So, with the flour at 100 grams, you need 50 grams of water to have a hydration value of 50%. Now, if you look at the preferment dough calculating tool at https://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment-calculator.html, You will see the statement:

Note: Preferment percentage of water = (weight of water divided by total weight of preferment) x 100.

Forgetting for the moment the amount of yeast you would like to use in your biga, the total biga weight comes to 100 + 50 = 150. That means that the preferment percentage of water is 50/(150) = 33.3%. That is the number that goes into the entry box entitled "Enter the preferment's percentage of water". Of course, in your case, you will not want to forget to add the biga yeast when you actually make the biga, the effect of which is to increase the weight of the biga. However, if the amount of yeast is small, it is unlikely to change the 33.3% number by a material amount.

As you correctly noted, the 5% number for the total biga quantity, measured with respect to the total dough weight, is entered in the box "Enter desired preferment amount".

For the other entries in the preferment dough calculating tool, you will rely on the basic dough recipe you will be using, most notably the baker's percents for the recipe you will be using but also the numbers that go into the other entry boxes. When done, the tool will specify the basic dough recipe numbers (the "Total Formula"), the numbers for the biga (the "Preferment"), and the numbers for the remainder of the dough (the "Final Dough") to which the biga is added. However, from the amount of yeast shown in the Final Dough you will want to subtract the amount of yeast used in the biga. Some of the final numbers may not be exact but if the amount of yeast used in the biga is small, the final numbers may be close enough for your purposes. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the preferment dough calculating tool was not designed for preferments containing commercial yeast.

As for your question in the last paragraph of your post, I don't quite remember what experiment you had in mind that I was conducting but the preferred method for using a natural preferment is to discard part of it and add more new flour and water to refresh the preferment. However, I do remember conducting at least one experiment where I used an unfed preferment. That might work but you would have to run tests to determine the amount to use and to see whether such a preferment imparts the desired flavor for the finished crust.

Peter
• #5 by Pod4477 on 05 Nov 2019
• Pod4477,

To give you an idea as to how the preferment dough calculating tool works, assume that you want to use a specified amount of biga that has a hydration value of 50%. Let's assume that the amount of biga you want to use is 5% of the total dough ball weight. Let us further assume that you want the biga to use 100 grams of flour. So, with the flour at 100 grams, you need 50 grams of water to have a hydration value of 50%. Now, if you look at the preferment dough calculating tool at https://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment-calculator.html, You will see the statement:

Note: Preferment percentage of water = (weight of water divided by total weight of preferment) x 100.

Forgetting for the moment the amount of yeast you would like to use in your biga, the total biga weight comes to 100 + 50 = 150. That means that the preferment percentage of water is 50/(150) = 33.3%. That is the number that goes into the entry box entitled "Enter the preferment's percentage of water". Of course, in your case, you will not want to forget to add the biga yeast when you actually make the biga, the effect of which is to increase the weight of the biga. However, if the amount of yeast is small, it is unlikely to change the 33.3% number by a material amount.

As you correctly noted, the 5% number for the total biga quantity, measured with respect to the total dough weight, is entered in the box "Enter desired preferment amount".

For the other entries in the preferment dough calculating tool, you will rely on the basic dough recipe you will be using, most notably the baker's percents for the recipe you will be using but also the numbers that go into the other entry boxes. When done, the tool will specify the basic dough recipe numbers (the "Total Formula"), the numbers for the biga (the "Preferment"), and the numbers for the remainder of the dough (the "Final Dough") to which the biga is added. However, from the amount of yeast shown in the Final Dough you will want to subtract the amount of yeast used in the biga. Some of the final numbers may not be exact but if the amount of yeast used in the biga is small, the final numbers may be close enough for your purposes. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the preferment dough calculating tool was not designed for preferments containing commercial yeast.

As for your question in the last paragraph of your post, I don't quite remember what experiment you had in mind that I was conducting but the preferred method for using a natural preferment is to discard part of it and add more new flour and water to refresh the preferment. However, I do remember conducting at least one experiment where I used an unfed preferment. That might work but you would have to run tests to determine the amount to use and to see whether such a preferment imparts the desired flavor for the finished crust.

Peter

Thank you so much!  I knew my math was wrong.  That water value was the part I was stuck on, but your awesome explanation really helped me.  So I came up with a dough calculation with using a 50% hydration biga, not taking into account any yeast added to the biga.  I based this off the PR ingredients list I was given.  Since it lists flour, water, salt, yeast, oil (in that order) I assumed they were using maybe 2% salt and 2% cake yeast.  When converting the cake yeast to IDY, I used the .375% conversion number, and it came out to .75% IDY for the equivalent 2% cake yeast.  You said to subtract the yeast used in the biga, and the amount used in the biga would come out to .03368 grams of IDY, if my math is correct.  To get that number I based it off of that website's recommendation of using .1% IDY, and since the flour in the biga is 33.68 grams, it came out to that .03368g amount.  When subtracting the .03368g IDY from 2.33g IDY, it comes out to 2.29 grams of yeast being added in the actual dough ball.

The calculation is as follows:
Total Formula:
Flour (100%):    310.29 g  |  10.94 oz | 0.68 lbs
Water (58.25%):    180.74 g  |  6.38 oz | 0.4 lbs
Salt (2%):    6.21 g | 0.22 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.11 tsp | 0.37 tbsp
IDY (.75%):    2.33 g | 0.08 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.77 tsp | 0.26 tbsp
Oil (1.75%):    5.43 g | 0.19 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.21 tsp | 0.4 tbsp
Total (162.75%):   505 g | 17.81 oz | 1.11 lbs | TF = 0.0885942

Preferment:
Flour:    33.68 g | 1.19 oz | 0.07 lbs
Water:    16.82 g | 0.59 oz | 0.04 lbs
Total:    50.5 g | 1.78 oz | 0.11 lbs

Final Dough:
Flour:    276.61 g | 9.76 oz | 0.61 lbs
Water:    163.93 g | 5.78 oz | 0.36 lbs
Salt:    6.21 g | 0.22 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.11 tsp | 0.37 tbsp
IDY:    2.33 g | 0.08 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.77 tsp | 0.26 tbsp
Preferment:    50.5 g | 1.78 oz | 0.11 lbs
Oil:    5.43 g | 0.19 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.21 tsp | 0.4 tbsp
Total:    505 g | 17.81 oz | 1.11 lbs  | TF = 0.0885942

Also they may be using 1.875% salt, but to make it easier I just used 2%.  My salt intake is high these days, and it usually takes more salt than the average person for me to get, what I call, even tasting food.  I know that their crust does has a good amount of salt because to me it tastes very balanced, which to most people must taste actually salty.  I infer from this that they must be using around that 2% of salt, since that is around what I use (1.875-2%), and mine tastes very balanced and close to theirs.  I found it interest how most pizza places have a very un-salty crust, and I'm assuming this is to aid in fermentation, but really makes it bland to me, especially since I require more salt to be pleased with most foods.
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