Thursday, June 25, 2009

ciabatta - bread baker's apprentice challenge #7

After some quick, straight rise breads, week seven of the BBAC finds us needing two days to accomplish our finished product - Ciabatta's!

Originating from Liguria, Italy, this tasty treat has always been a homestead favorite. I discovered the name literally translates into "carpet slipper". Something I mentally grasped at little more after the stretch and fold preparation Peter talks about.

Peter is kind enough to offer two basic versions. One started with a poolish and the other a biga. He also makes mention of more creative ciabatta's with mushrooms, caramelized onions, herbs, and cheese. Apparently his students have a tendency to favor the wild mushroom ciabatta.

For the poolish versions, I mixed the starter ingredients together and let them sit for 2 nights in the fridge. After making Peter's pizza recipes for a few years now, I've really come to appreciate the flavor developed by retarding the dough in the fridge. Once ready to rock n' roll, it's time to mix it all up.

Now I've made ciabatta's before (never Peter's) and found this dough quite dry. While the poolish starter is like pancake batter, once you had in the required flour this dough really dries up. I ended up using all the 'extra' water just to get the dough tacky. Huh?!?!

The stretch and fold technique is simple and just requires some relaxation time in between. After a 1 1/2 hour rise, I divided the dough into 3 sections and created a comfy home in the couche.

I preheated my oven to 500, during the last bit of final proofing time and prepared my peel. With a light hand, you are supposed to pull the ciabatta's out to around 9-12 inches. Into the oven they go with some homemade steam.

After 25 minutes the dough should hit 205 degrees, and we are ready to cool.

The poolish version was delicious. I cut a nice sized chunk to go with a salad, warm from the oven, and it complimented perfectly. It also made a great deli style sandwich base for some unexpected lunch guests. Besides the 'wetness' factor, I think the final stretching took away from the potential of big airy pockets. The dough was soft and pillow-like when I picked it up, but degassed pretty bad. Good thing I'm not picky about that, because the flavor profile was right on.

Maybe not something I'm going to add to my regular offerings, but I would like to attempt the biga version before I make a final decision.


Paula - bell'alimento said...

I really enjoyed the Ciabatta bread! The flavor was amazing! Mine didn't have quite as many holes as I would have liked but it was delicious! Looking forward to sticky buns this week!

Chris said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only person to not get the massive holes as they look so appealing in the book. I really think the dough could have been more hydrated and my stretching could have used more delicate hands. Sticky Buns..oh what a good week it will be!

Frieda said...

I was pretty 'deflated' to not see big holes in my ciabatta! I live in an high altitude and mine deflated when I did the stretch and folds, no matter how gentle I was. It still tasted great with the olive oil and rosemary. I loved your step by step posts and your bread looks beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Very nice description of the process. It looks like your ciabatta was a great success. I made mine this weekend (details here) and it came out okay. I did compare baking on a stone versus a La Cloche so that was interesting.

The texture of your loaf looks great...perfect for dipping in some olive oil and scarfing down.

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