I'm trying my hand at Ciabatta bread and have just made the biga in preparation for making the bread tomorrow.
I followed this recipe, which calls for the following proportion of ingredients for the biga:
250g/9oz Italian type '00' bread flour
190ml/7fl oz water
and the preparation (emphasis mine):
For the overnight preparation, mix the flour with the water in a large bowl and add the yeast. Whisk for three minutes and leave to rise overnight (or at least eight hours).
I measured out the ingredients using the metric quantities and mixed as per the instructions, but my biga turned out to be much too solid and dough-like to whisk:
I measured out the weight of flour with a scale and the water with a liquid measuring cup and used bread flour.
Looking at another recipe, I see the same proportion of dry to wet ingredients:
4 ounce (1/2 cup) water
1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
5 ounce (1 cup) all-purpose flour
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flour and stir to form a thick, gloppy paste. Give it a good fifty or so brisk stirs to build up the gluten. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.
This one also has a flour:water ratio of 2:1 and indicates that the result should be a gloppy paste. Surely more water is needed in order to get this kind of consistency? Is a more solid consistency okay or did I do something wrong?
I tried again making a half batch of the biga, documenting step-by-step with photos, to ensure that the measurements were all 100% correct.
Here's a whole bunch of photos I took in an imgur album. This time the dough was very slightly wetter, but my whisk still got very much clogged very quickly. I put a weight on my scale of 1kg and it measured 1017g, however this could be due to inaccuracies in both the weight and the scale so isn't a hugely conclusive test. At least we can be sure my scale isn't wildly out ;)
I managed to easily shape the final result into a ball very similarly to the original attempt with all the flour combined.
Checked my scale using coins. I used 7x R5 coins and it gave a reading of 65g. 9g/coin x 7 coins = 63g in reality which gives a 2g difference.
After several hours, it's definitely quite a bit sloppier and way more sticky. I'm going to see how it handles tomorrow morning when I make the dough.