The Battle of the Starters: Biga Poolish vs. Sourdough - Unveiling the Differences and Best Uses

 Local Meal Experience A New Way to Private Chef
Apr 01, 2024By Local Meal Experience A New Way to Private Chef

It's safe to say that the years following the Covid pandemic, the world, home bakers, and chefs are obsessed with the perfect fresh baked loaf of bread with sour flavor. As a  professional chef of over two decades, I can lend a ton of experience to this obsession the world has with sour breads but particularly my advise to bakers and future bakers is that you must be obsessed with the starter you use. 

When it comes to baking bread, the choice of starter can make a significant impact on the flavor, texture, and overall quality of the final product. Two popular types of starters, biga poolish and sourdough, have been widely used by bakers around the world. In this post, we will unveil the key differences between these two starters and explore their best uses in bread making.

The Biga Poolish Starter

The biga poolish starter is a pre-ferment that originated in Italy. It is characterized by its high hydration and relatively short fermentation time. Typically made with equal parts of flour and water, the biga poolish imparts a mild, slightly tangy flavor to the bread and contributes to a chewy texture.

One of the key advantages of using a biga poolish starter is its ability to enhance the overall structure and crumb of the bread, resulting in a well-developed crust and open crumb structure.

The Sourdough Starter

Sourdough, on the other hand, is a natural leaven made from a mixture of flour and water that has been fermented with wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria. This starter is renowned for its distinct tangy flavor and complex aroma, which develops during the longer fermentation process.

sourdough bread

Due to its natural fermentation process, sourdough bread is often easier to digest and has a lower glycemic index compared to bread made with commercial yeast. Additionally, the unique flavor profile of sourdough makes it a favorite among artisanal bakers and bread enthusiasts.

Best Uses

When deciding between biga poolish and sourdough, it's important to consider the desired characteristics of the bread and the time available for fermentation. Biga poolish is ideal for creating bread with a chewy texture and open crumb, making it suitable for artisan-style loaves and baguettes.

baguette bread

On the other hand, sourdough is perfect for those seeking a more complex flavor profile and a longer shelf life. It is well-suited for rustic country loaves, boules, and other hearty bread varieties.

Ultimately, both biga poolish and sourdough starters offer unique benefits and can be used to create a wide range of delicious breads. Whether you prefer the mild tang of biga poolish or the robust flavor of sourdough, experimenting with different starters can elevate your bread baking experience and yield exceptional results.

At Thankfully Local and all of our sister companies, we prefer using a poolish starter with our breads for clients as it creates similar flavor to sour dough in a quicker fashion. We do create sour dough batches for clients upon request. Of course, the world became obsessed again with bread making during the 2020 pandemic and we are not alone in our love to explore the great teqniques of the past baking for the future generations of chefs and clients to come.