Rav (corvid) wrote,

Recipe: Working Ciabatta

Ciabatta is a bread that's a pain to make 'properly.' What I want out of it is an extremely holey crumb, fairly thin crust, and no excessive sourness. It's a wet sloppy dough that hates you and the horse you rode in on.

And - I think I've got it working

Cook's Illustrated had a Rustic Italian loaf ( Jan / Feb 2003) which had a 'bad' loaf that had _exactly_ the look I wanted. They claimed it was unpleasant to eat since it wouldn't slice nicely.

Remember I'm cooking at high altitude in a dry climate. Your yeast / flour / water will all make a difference.

Biga -

11 oz. or 2 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
8 oz. / 1 cup water

Mix until you get a shaggy dough. You want this to be fairly firm and well incorperated. Do not over mix. Cover, and ignore till it starts to bubble and rise. Once this happens, pop it in the fridge overnight.

Dough -

16.5 oz. or 3 cups flour
1 tsp instant yeast
10.7 oz. or 1 1/3 cup water (I used 12.5ish, plus a half cup of water, plus a halfish cup of bread flour to normalize everything later. Leave out the excess.)
2 tsp salt (added with biga)

Mix this in a mixer on the lowest speed. Stop the mixer and check to see that you don't have masses of flour in the bottom. If so, scrape down the bowl and mix again. You want a wet flaccid dough to form in about 3 minutes of mixing.

Cover bowl and leave for 20 minutes or until dough is relaxed.

Add salt and biga and mix on low speed until all is incorperated and the dough clears the sides of the bowls. Beat on medium or high for 5 - 10 minutes until you can tug about 5 inches of dough before it snaps. If you turn off the mixer and everything becomes liquid again, add a scant amount of flour. You want the dough to clear the sides of the bowl, but only while the mixer is working. It shouldn't clear the bottom of the bowl.

Scrape this mess into a proofing bowl. Allow it to rise for an hour or until puffy. Turn the dough via using a dough scraper or a heavily oiled hand. Plunge said device down the side of your bowl and then lift and stretch the bottom over the top. Repeat around the bowl. Do this once more after an hour (or less) rise and then let it rise one final time. It should have doubled.

Take parchment paper, oil it, and pour your dough on it. It should be bubbly and loose like a very soft custard. Let this rise, covered with a bowl / floured parchment until doubled. Use oiled hands to form it (2 loaves can be made via dividing it and using parchment to hold each loaves.)

About a half hour into the rise, heat oven to 500 (I used 450). Pop a baking tile in the oven. When the dough has doubled, gently jostle the pan. It should act a bit like wobbly jello.

Pop this wobbly mess in the oven, and mist the dough with water / pour some water onto the bottom of the oven (carefully). Close the oven door and bake for about 13 minutes. Rotate the pan, reduce heat to 400 (I used 375), and bake for about 20 minutes. You want it to be well browned, sound hollow when tapped, etc. Remove and let bake without the pan in a turned off oven if it seems a bit soggy. Let cool on a rack.

My version burned a bit on the bottom, but the crumb is perfect. Let me know if you try this recipe.

Edit: Did it again. Used just oil to form the dough, which worked much nicer. Baked at 425 for 10, turned, baked 375 for 30. Left in a turned off oven with fan on to dry out a bit
Tags: food

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