I've never read a biga/poolish bread recipe that specifically mentions whether or not to knead the starter dough.
Is it helpful to knead it, or is it not worth doing?
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Well, technically there is a minor difference between biga and poolish, but often the terms are used interchangeably.
Just for clarification:
But should you explicitly knead?
Actually, you don't need to. Both pre-ferments will rest for hours. During that time the gluten will both develop (-> see the principles of no-knead bread) and be diminished to some extent by the growing yeast. You don't want or need to mess with this process. Just mix flour, water and yeast until somewhat homogenous (no dry patches) and let both yeast and enzyme activity do their thing. You will observe that the "uneven" preferment will change texture over time, yeast starts to bubble and when it's ready to use, it will be nice and even.
1 Yes, that's a really, really tiny amount.