Prep:30 mins Cook:40 mins plus resting and proving
makes 2 loaves
For the biga
¼ tsp dried active yeast
165g plain flour
For the dough
½ tsp dried action yeast
35ml warm milk
1 tbsp olive oil
250g strong white bread flour
The night before, make the biga (see tip, below). Stir yeast with 50ml warm
water, stand for 10 mins, then add another 80ml warm water. Gradually add
the flour in a stand mixer on its lowest setting. Once it’s a wet dough, transfer
to a well-oiled bowl, cover and leave for 12 hours or overnight at room
In the morning, combine the yeast and milk and leave to stand for 10 mins.
Tip into a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 160ml water, the
biga and the olive oil. Then add the flour and 1 heaped tsp salt. Use the
dough hook of a stand mixer to combine the dough. Knead for 10 mins until
smooth and elastic. Don’t worry if it looks very wet, it should to be a very
wet dough! Pour into a well-oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to
prove for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
Once rested, begin to do a series of folds – lift the dough from the edge, pull
up, over, then release it. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and do the same again.
Repeat so you do a full turn of the bowl twice, or 8 folds. Rest for 30 mins,
then repeat the whole folding process once more.
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 6. Tip the dough onto a really
well-floured surface and cut in half. The dough will feel like a batter and
spread across the surface a bit, but don’t panic, just work on a well-floured
surface, using the flour and a pastry scraper to help move the dough. Shape
the dough into 2 large squares (about 20cm x 20cm). Dealing with each loaf
at a time, fold the dough in from each side, as if folding a booklet. Flip over,
then pick up the roll and place each onto separate well-floured sheets of
baking paper. The roll will be very soft, so oil or flour your hands well.
Allow to rest for another 30 mins, covered with a floured tea towel. Don’t
worry if it spreads a little.
While the dough rests, heat a baking sheet in the oven. Once the dough has
rested, slide each of the loaves, along with the baking paper beneath them,
onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 mins, until the crust is golden and
the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base. Move to a wire rack and
cool for an hour before slicing and serving with olive oil and balsamic