I started the BIGA yesterday. Thanks to Carol Field's book, The Italian Baker. I was lucky to secure this book on Red Room, following a competition on writing about travels in Italy. I think I wrote about throwing my worn out high tops into the Med just as the toe of Italy met Sicily. It was a memorable event. But back to the BIGA. BIGA is all consuming. I have put it off for too many months but now that the house is void of distraction I thought it best to dig out the book and dive in.
Let me tell you that this is no mean feat. BIGA is big. It takes over. It might replace that dreaded, empty laundry basket syndrome I wrote about a few days ago. Because BIGA causes you to fret. You watch the development of water and flour like a hawk or a mother who just gave birth.
It all looks so simple to begin with. I chose the BIGA NATURALE and that means adding in a tiny bit of yeast. True purists do not. They wait for days and days on end for the natural culture of flour and water to do their thing. But I am not patient and I don't live in Italy and so I want results, immediately, well, at least in two or three days and not a week plus.
It is incredible, this BIGA vibe. You start off, after mixing a little flour and water and a wee, wee bit of yeast and you end up with something that resembles a mouldy orange and you find a warm place (not easy in this house) and you let it grow. It forms tiny bubbles and expands. The next day you add to the original mix, the exact amount of flour and water and it expands again and then you add some more and voilá you have a glorious dough ready for making that amazing ciabatta bread that costs a fortune at the local bakery.
This is stage one of my blog on BIGA. The night has fallen in and I am weary of weighing in the flour and the water. I have a small token to allow the dough to sit in the fridge until morning. Then I will take it out, refresh it once more and heat up the oven and bake my bread. I will keep you posted on what transpires.
But I could not help but think that BIGA has to be a metaphor for life. You always have to keep adding to keep yourself alive. A small tad of time, enough to suffice, enough to ward off exhaustion, enough to keep the spirit wanting for more, enough to make us rise to the occasion.
With thanks to Carol Field, for her inspiring journey through Italy.