All good things start somewhere and with bread it is usually a starter. There are many types and names but in essence, they are all the same: starters.

My Favourite is the Italian BIGA (pre-ferment) as usually it doesn’t require feeding or watching. It is sort of like a pre starter or a starter when you are feeling lazy . Biga gave me the confidence to start sourdough starters.


Biga came about after bakers yeast came into being and the Biga adds to the taste and complexity of the breads. A drier starter than the Poolish.  A good example of where Biga is used is Ciabatta, Terni and Coccodile breads.

  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 & 1/2 cups flour.

Mix yeast and 1/3 cup warm water together and leave until creamy and frothy. Add in 2nd lot of water and flour, mix well and then cover with gladwrap and leave in room temperature 6-24 hours. It can be left longer up to 72 hours but after that, the taste may not be what you need for your bread.



A French pre-ferment, that like Biga, is used to add to the taste of the bread. Usually one part water to one part flour (but can vary) and wetter than Biga.

  • 2 & 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 &1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp yeast

Mix the yeast and water together until creamy and frothy and then add in the flour. This should be soft and sticky, like pikelet mix. Cover the bowl with gladwrap and ferment at room temperature for 4 hours. Put in the fridge. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.

PATE -FERMENTEE:( Old dough)

  • 1 cup Bread flour
  • 1 cup standard flour
  • 3/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 water

Pate Fermentee

Photo from

Mix water and yeast together and leave in a warm place until creamy and frothy. Add flour until dough is firm- so not sticky but not dry either. It is better to be a little wet than dry. On lightly floured area, knead for 4-6 minutes (you can do a little cheat like me and use the breadmaker to knead). Put dough in ightly oiled bowl and leave in room for 1-2 hours. When dough is 1 & 1/2 times the size, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge over night. You can keep this in the fridge for 3 days or even freeze it!!


King of Starters!!

There is a fabulous starter in Dean Brettschniders book “Global Baker” and I particularly like it as he is a NZer. All this books are fabulous. This starter though is a mix of trial and error from Dean’s starter, Peter Reinhart’s starters and numerous blogs.

Day one:

  • 50g water
  • 50g rye flour

Mix together until like a paste. I like to put mine in jars and i mark and date the first day and leave at room temperature and out of the sun.

Day Two:

Add 30 mls of water and 30 mls rye flour, Stir well and placelid back on and leave again for 24 hours at RT, out of the sunlight.

Day Three:

Bubbles may be appearing!! exciting. Time to feed!!. Get rid of half the mix and add 30 mls of water and 30 grams of Rye flour. Mix well and leave in RT again for 24 hours.

Day Four:

Repeat as for day three and leave for a further 24 hours at RT after feeding again.

Day Five/ Six:

I usually let this rest until day six and then use if I am baking or if not, then I maintain it and stick it in the fridge. When I want to use it, I take it out 3 days beforehand and refresh (feed) for 2 days and then use and stick back what I don’t use in the fridge for the next baking day!!

Peter Reinhart has an interesting starter with juice in his “Bread Bakers Apprentice” , which I will try when I get a minute 🙂

Good starter for beginners or if you are confused at

P.S:  sells various starter kits. Check it out:)

One thought on “Starters:

  1. Pingback: Bonjour Mon Amis…Greedybread Mini French baguette? | Greedybread

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