To start, we make the biga. A biga is basically just a pre-fermented bit of dough that gives a boost to the growth of yeast in the bread, and provides slightly different flavours than a younger fermentation. So, for the biga:
2 1⁄6 cup (10 oz) bread flourMix the flour, water and yeast.
¾ cup water
1 tsp yeast
Let sit, covered, for three to four hours.
Now, retard the biga in the fridge for zero to twelve hours. Basically, by chilling the yeast, you're making it do different things metabolically, which will in turn make the yeast piss different combinations of lactic acid and ethanol into the dough. It results in a richer-flavoured bread. So you don't *have* to retard the dough, but it'll be better if you do.
After retarding the biga, mix it with:
3 ½ cup (16 oz) bread flourKnead for tenish minutes, until the dough softens. I couldn't do this one in my mixer, it really wanted to climb out and get gear grease all over it. So knead by hand it is.
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp yeast
¾ cup milk at room temperature
½ cup softened unsalted butter
Cover, and let rise 1-2 hours.
Knead again, let rise again, 1-2 hours.
Split into rolls, and pinch and roll balls of dough, about half the size of your fist. Think small, they're gonna rise a bunch, and expand even more in the oven. Place rolls on a greased cookie sheet, this batch made me 14 rolls.
Cover the rolls, and let rise 1-2 hours.
After final rise, pre-heat oven at 350°F for about half an hour. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they make a nice brown crust, and rebound to a light touch.
Let cool. But not too long. These soft and delicious guys belong in something tasty like a pulled pork sandwich. Yum.