A biga is a pre-ferment used in Italian bread baking, particularly associated with rustic and artisanal breads. It’s a type of preferment that consists of a mixture of flour, water, and a small amount of yeast, which is allowed to ferment and develop flavor before being incorporated into the final dough. The use of a biga can enhance the flavor, texture, and shelf life of bread by contributing to better gluten development and a more complex taste profile. Biga-based breads often have a slightly tangy flavor and a chewy crumb. The term “biga” comes from Italian baking tradition and is similar to other preferments like “poolish” in French baking or “sponge” in English baking.