Biga - Fördegen som förändrar pizzan

Biga - The dough that changes the pizza

Just as sourdough has become very popular, it has become popular among home cooks who strive for the best results in bread and pizza baking to use predough. In particular, the use of biga - a dry Italian predough - is something that pizza enthusiasts have embraced to improve their doughs.

At Lilla Napoli, we don't actually have much experience with biga, which is why we enlisted the help of biga expert Marcus from Marcus Pizza Corner . He has helped create this guide where you will find out everything you need to know about biga, including what it is, how to make it, why to use it and much more.

What is biga?

Biga is a form of Italian predough that combines flour, water, and yeast in a carefully selected mixture. By loosely mixing the flour, water and yeast together and allowing them to ferment for a longer period of time, you get a noticeably different dough.

Then when these three ingredients have fully fermented (it usually takes just under a day), the dough is kneaded with more water, salt and possibly flour. We usually talk about "% biga", where we mean how many percent of the final dough is biga-based.

If, for example, you used 700 grams of flour in the biga mixture itself, and then added 300 grams of flour during the kneading, you get 70% biga. The formula is: amount of flour in the bigan / total amount of flour in the dough. You can also make 100% biga, and then simply add no flour in the second step of the recipe. Further down you can read a recipe on how to make 100% biga.

Can you add something more to the dough?

When adding the ingredients of the second round, you can also use malt or sugar. This is done as the bigan's yeast bacteria eat up a lot of the starch during fermentation, and the malt/sugar kicks off the fermentation process again. This can lead to more fermentation and an airier, tastier result.

Plus, just malt adds a more complex flavor with subtle notes of nuttiness and sweetness, and the finished pizza's crust tends to be browner due to a lower case count, which is really neat.

Why should you use biga? - Biga's benefits

Baking pizza with biga is definitely more complicated than regular dough. So why do it? Well, the result will be different and maybe even better.

A biga-based pizza is usually easier to digest. This means that it will be more pleasant to eat, and you can avoid the feeling of a lump of dough in your stomach, which can otherwise be bothersome.

Then you often get a higher swoosh with biga in the dough. By swoosh we mean that the edges become higher and airier; like in Naples! Also, the bigan is more forgiving when it comes to this swoosh, as you can use a slightly lower temperature and the pizza still gets nice edges while still being easy to digest.

Last but certainly not least, the taste is affected. Exactly what is different is a little hard to pin down, but the flavor is simply deeper and more tangible. The difference in taste is greatest if malt is used in the recipe.

How to make an awesome puff pastry - Marcus's own recipes

Here, expert Marcus has shared his recipe for making fantastic biga. This recipe takes two days to complete, but you can make the pizzas on the second day. So you have to start one day before eating. This recipe is for 100% biga; no flour is added after the first day.

The recipe is for 6 large pizzas, but of course you can vary the quantities for more or fewer.

Day 1 - Preparation of the bigan


  • 1000 grams of flour.
  • 4.5-5 deciliters of water (4.5 dl in summer, 5 dl in winter. The more water, the harder the fermentation).
  • 2-3 grams of yeast (2 in summer, 3 in winter).

How one do:

  • Start by dissolving the yeast in the water.
  • Then add the flour and mix the pre-dough until all the flour and water have been combined into a smooth mixture.
  • Then cover the predough in a container (preferably cylindrical) with a lid or plastic wrap. Then let it stand at a temperature of 16 degrees for 18 hours. Alternatively, it can stand for 4-5 hours at room temperature and then 18 hours in the fridge.

Day 2 - Completion of the puff pastry


  • The bigan from yesterday (when the dough is ready it should have a distinct smell).
  • 2-2.5 deciliters of ice water (if you used 4.5 dl of water in the biga on day one, you should use 2.5 dl of water. Then you get 70% hydration).
  • 28 grams of salt
  • 10 grams of malt or sugar

How one do:

  • Place yesterday's biga together with half of the water in the dough mixer. Knead on slow speed until you get a dough that comes together nicely. NOTE: First the biga is broken apart, and then it is put back together.
  • When the dough has come together, increase the speed of the dough mixer. Then add salt and malt if you like (alternatively sugar). Then it's time to pour in the remaining water; however, you have to add a little at a time, so that the dough has time to "swallow" the water. Continue adding the water until all the water is used up, being careful not to get the temperature too high.
  • When the dough is finished kneading, it should be strong and almost chewy in texture. In addition, it must pass the so-called window pane test. This means that you should be able to pull out a piece of dough until it becomes so thin that you can almost see through it. This must be done without the dough breaking.
  • When the dough passes the test, take it out of the mixer and fold it into a springy ball-like shape. Then let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Then shape the dough into 260-280 gram balls to get large pizzas of around 36 cm. The pizzas are ready for baking 3 hours after baking (quicker if it's hot outside).

Extra tips:

  • A really good dough mixer makes bigabake immeasurably easier. Here Marcus recommends a spiral mixer of good quality, for example a FAMAG .
  • If you want to bake the pizzas later than 3 hours after baking, you can put them in the fridge after about 30 minutes.
  • If the dough balls feel very sticky 2 hours into the fermentation at room temperature, it might be smart to move them to the fridge. Then the baking becomes much easier.
  • If you do not make 100% biga, it is important to think about the amount of yeast. The smaller the amount of biga in the final dough, the harder the dough must rise. This means that you must have more yeast if you make a dough with a lower proportion of biga.

Flour suitable for puff pastry

One of the most common misconceptions about pizza baking is that the flour is not important. It is, and above all when you have to make biga. Since yeast dough usually ferments harder than regular dough, a flour with a higher W number is required. Simply explained, a higher W number means that the flour is stronger and can bind more water.

For the puff pastry itself, you should use a flour with at least W 300, but if you have a far too strong flour, the dough can become "chewy". However, you often get a higher swoosh the stronger the flour is, so you want to be close to the limit.

Which flour to use for pizza and especially biga can be a little confusing, and that's why Marcus and I have collected our flour favorites here to succeed with a really great biga dough:

Should you use biga for your pizza dough?

Biga is a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it only requires a little more thought in preparation. The difference between regular dough and biga-based dough is big, so the serious home cook should give it a try.

Hopefully, after reading this, you now have a good understanding of biga and all its properties, and feel free to check out one of our suitable flours mentioned before if you're up for the challenge.

Big thanks to Marcus from Marcus Pizza Corner who helped us with this guide.

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