Subway To Remove Chemical In Its Bread
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Related post: All About Ciabatta: notes from a class
Okay, so with Valentine's Day in mind, I test-baked a version of this festive ciabatta (inspired by the Breakfast Ciabatta with chocolate pieces and bits of candied orange that Didier Rosada demoed during the All about Ciabatta class). The chocolate and cherries combo is one of the Man's favorites and when you add roasted hazelnuts to the mix, well, you'd think he had died and gone to heaven from the blissful look on his face. Since ciabatta has become one of my favorite breads to make, I thought it would be just perfect for the occasion.
But I needed a test run because I wasn't sure of the percentage of cherries and hazelnuts to use. Good thing I did because, as it turned out, I didn't put in nearly enough of either that first time. Also I had been so concerned that the ciabattas might stick to the couche when proofing that I had used way too much flour (as can be seen from image below) and they came out looking more like rustic Yule logs than Valentine Day treats!
I had made four ciabattas. I brushed one of them clear of flour, which made it less Christmassy but gave it the sorry look of a legless and jaundiced platypus (minus the tail and the bill but you know what I mean)...
Nevertheless I resolutely sliced into it...
...and was rewarded by a wonderful fragrance of poolish, chocolate and roasted hazelnuts. I couldn't smell the cherries but I could glimpse a few of them and certainly taste them and I resolved right then and there to make another batch.
At that point I was called away from the kitchen by some urgent task or other and the next time I caught a glimpse of the second piece of ciabatta I had sliced for further evaluation (no self-sacrifice being to great for my Valentine), it had hugely shrunk in size and was actually walking towards me, firmly grasped in the right hand of said Valentine. Before I could react, he beamed at me: "I love this cake!"
Cake? Seriously? The Man has been living with me for more than for thirty years and eating my bread for almost as long and he still mistakes bread for cake? I replied sternly that not only what he was devouring wasn't a cake but that it was supposed to be his Valentine Day's breakfast surprise. He remarked that if it weren't a cake, it sure tasted like one and added judiciously that if it were a surprise, I shouldn't have left it lying around on the kitchen counter. He further offered that, if I let him proceed with his tasting, he would gladly submit to a spot of amnesia and allow himself to be deliciously surprised on February 14th...
Since there is a (huge) lot to be said for regaling your Valentine with a treat you enjoy just as much as he does, I decided to forgive him his brief lapse of culinary judgment and proceed with the second test-bake. This time, I think I got the proportions right. The appearance is still rustic but nothing I can't live with. Of course I could always use more chocolate and more cherries. But then why not just make a cake? The Man wouldn't know the difference.
Yields four ciabattas, scaled raw at 500 g
For those of you who are using BreadStorm (including the free version), please click on this link to import the formula. For more on BreadStorm, you may want to read this post.
Note: This bread is made over 24 hours and requires a mixer equipped with a dough hook (such as a Kitchen Aid).
The night before the bake
- Mix the poolish, cover it loosely and let it ferment overnight (12 hours) at 73°F/23°C
- Roast the hazelnuts in a 350°F/177°C oven for about 20 minutes (I keep all nuts in the freezer which is probably why they need 20 minutes to turn brown. If yours are room temperature, they may not need more than 10 or 12 minutes) until they turn a rich brown color and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When they are cool to the touch, rub them inside the kitchen towel until a good part of the skin has peeled off, then transfer them to a rimmed metal dish and break them roughly (I use the bottom of a heavy mug)
- Cut the butter in small pieces and reserve
- Scale the sugar and the honey
- If possible, keep above ingredients overnight at same temperature as the poolish but leave the eggs in the refrigerator
Desired dough temperature (DDT): 73°F/23°C to 76°FF/24°C
(Depending on the room and the flour temperatures, you will need to use cooler or warmer water in the final dough to obtain the DDT at the end of the mixing process)
- Half-an-hour before mixing time, take the eggs out of the refrigerator, scale them, beat them lightly and reserve
- Scale water 2 and bring to a boil
- Combine the dried cherries and chopped up hazelnuts, quick-soak them with the boiling water, drain and reserve the resulting tea (it will be brownish-looking and quite fragrant), letting it cool down to room temperature. This water remains your water 2 (I didn't top it off to make up for what the cherries and hazelnuts retained but you might have to if your flour is very thirsty)
- Scale the flour, yeast and salt. Whisk yeast and salt into the flour and reserve
- Place the poolish, the eggs and water 1 in the bowl of the mixer
- Add sugar and honey (if using 10% or less combined, it can be added at the beginning)
- Add the butter (if using 10% or less, it can be added at the beginning)
- Add the dry mix (flour + yeast + salt)
- Mix on first speed (on a spiral mixer) or speed 4 (on a Kitchen Aid) for 4 or 5 minutes
- Mix on second speed (on a spiral mixer) or speed 8 (on a Kitchen Aid) for 2-3 minutes
- Check gluten development. When gluten is 80% developed, add water 2 by increments on first speed (4 on Kitchen Aid) and mix for about 3 minutes
- Add the cherry-hazelnut mixture and the chocolate chips. Mix on first speed (4 on Kitchen Aid) until just incorporated
- Transfer into oiled dough tub, cover and let ferment at 73°F/23°C - 76°FF/24°C for 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Transfer the dough to a generously floured surface (see relevant video in All About Ciabatta: Notes from a Class), taking care not to let it fold over itself
- Divide and scale at 500 g (you should have four ciabattas (again please refer to the relevant video) (Note that in class, Didier scaled the breakfast ciabatta at 200 g and all the others at 400 g)
- Proof on floured linen, top down, for one hour
- Bake with steam on a baking stone in a 420°F - 216°C oven for 30 minutes (turning oven down to 400°F-204°C after 10 minutes, tenting with foil if over browning after 20 minutes and propping the oven door open (with a wooden spoon) for the last five minutes
- Cool on a rack
Poolish in center, then clockwise: butter, honey, sugar and post-quick-soaking water 2
Don't you love the strands of gluten in the middle bubble?
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We did an interview with Rick Kleffel of Central California Public Radio (and the Agony Column) last week, to talk about The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It was a blast as always, thanks Rick! If you didn’t hear it on the NPR affiliate 88.9 KUSP, check out the podcast here, or Rick’s review of the book here.
- All the doughs were mixed using a spiral mixer
- At home, I use a 6-quart mixer with a dough hook
- The bread flour used during the class was hard red winter wheat (11%-11.5% protein)
What's a preferment?
"A preferment is a dough or batter prepared prior to mixing the final dough and composed of a portion of the total formula's water, yeast (natural or commercial) and sometimes salt. The dough (or batter) is allowed to ferment for a controlled period of time and then added to the final dough."
From Didier Rosada, Your Guide to Preferments, an online article I recommend reading for a better understanding of the various preferments and their applications
Old dough can be used as a preferment for ciabatta. A good average is 40 to 50% of total flour. Using old dough is an easy way to have a quick preferment. But old dough has already been mixed fully once, which means it should be added at the end of the mixing time (so that it doesn’t get mixed again). Which is NOT the case for biga.
Biga comes a very stiff preferment from Italy. If you choose biga, use 1% of yeast and let the biga ferment for 18 hours at 60°F. Remember to watch the water percentage in the final dough: hydration may need to be adjusted. If necessary, you can keep biga at 45°F (just up the yeast a little bit). As a preferment, it is more strongly flavored and more acidic than poolish.
Poolish was invented by Polish bakers and brought to France by Austrians. A transition between sourdough and commercial yeast, it is one of the first preferments made with the latter. It has a sweet nutty flavor profile. A poolish is ready when it shows lots of bubbles and crevices and offers some resistance.
The amount of yeast to use in the poolish depends on the length of the fermentation. In the table below, please note that "total flour" refers to the total flour used in the poolish.
If you choose to let your poolish ferment overnight, always add to it 0.1% salt to it (1 g of salt for 1000 g of flour) as it will help you control the fermentation much better.
For reasons of personal convenience, I always have let my poolish ferment overnight. Ever since I took Didier's class, I have been systematically adding to it 0.1% yeast and 0.1% salt and I am delighted with the results: no more overripe and defeated poolish!
Sponge was invented by the British. Hydrated at 60%, it ferments overnight at the same temperature as the poolish.
- When the gluten is 100% developed, the gluten window is transparent. The finer the veins on the window, the more developed the gluten
- Always relate dough temperature to gluten development: if your recipe calls for full development of the gluten, use a lower water temperature
- Adequate dough consistency, gluten development and dough temperature will give the process a good start. If careful thought isn't given to all three, troubleshooting will be necessary
Ciabatta: a historical perspective
- In the old days, Italian wheat was very weak and a very stiff preferment was needed to reinforce the dough. Accordingly ciabatta dough was traditionally leavened with biga, then set to ferment overnight at low temperature. A long fermentation at low temperature produced acidity which made the dough stronger. That’s why one can still see biga cellars in old Italian bakeries
- Most of the wheat in Italy now comes from France and Germany and is low in protein (10 to 10.5%). It is stronger than the old Italian wheat, which means that biga is no longer the preferment of choice for ciabatta: it makes the dough too strong
- Even though today's Italian bakers still call most preferments biga, they generally use poolish in their ciabatta. (In the United States, the term biga is often preferred for marketing reasons: it sounds more romantic than old dough!)
- Today in Italy, ciabatta is often made with straight dough and therefore less flavorful
- Today's preferment of choice: a poolish using 30% of the total flour in the recipe
- Ciabattas require no shaping although some people like to give the dough a fold to make it fluffier
- Ciabattas are proofed top down on floured linen
- They are baked flour side up without any scoring
- Do NOT dimple top of the ciabatta
- The baker adds enough water at the beginning to get the consistency of baguette dough; develops gluten to about 80%; then adds rest of water (always in increments)
- The dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl when mixing is done
- Retarding is only for convenience. Longer in the cooler doesn’t necessarily mean better. You will never get as complex a flavor as with a room temperature fermentation
- If you plan to retard your ciabatta, choose a stiffer preferment (for instance a biga or a sponge), increase the amount of yeast in the preferment, shorten the preferment fermentation time (5 to 6 hours instead of overnight) and increase the amount of preferment in the final dough
- Use the double hydration technique (see above)
- Use olive oil
- Increase mixing time to give the dough more strength: mix to improved (gluten at 90%) before adding the second water
- Shorten the first fermentation before putting the dough in the retarder: 30 minutes, one fold, then into the retarder. Next day: take the dough out, divide it, proof and bake (right out of the retarder) OR: take the dough out, wait for one hour, then dump it on the table, wait 30 minutes then divide and bake
- Always adding a bit of salt to a preferment is a safety: it will slightly penalize the flavor of said preferment but it will ensure that it works
- It is important not to put too much water at the beginning of the mixing: start at 68-70% if the formula calls for no oil (65% or a bit less if oil)
- Always put the liquid ingredients in the bowl first
- Always add yeast and salt to the flour. Especially important if using cold water, so that the yeast doesn't come in contact with the cold water
- Be very careful when dumping ciabatta dough on bench for scaling, you want to avoid any accidental folding
- When scaling ciabatta, add scraps on top. Since ciabatta proofs wrong side up, the scraps won’t show in the final product (see photo immediately below)
- You can add 10% natural starter to the formula for added flavor and longer shelf life
- Steam is very important as ciabatta will always turn out better with steam. But only at the beginning of the bake. It is actually important to vent the oven towards the end of the baking because ciabatta can get soggy (in my house, I use the handle of a wooden spoon to keep the oven door ajar for the last five minutes of baking)
- If the dough is too cold when done, increase the fermentation time
- Milk makes ciabatta a bit more tender
Mixing ciabatta dough (The sound is quite poor at the beginning but the video is still worth watching because it gives you an idea of the soft consistency and high gluten development Didier was looking for in that particular dough.)
Folding ciabatta dough
(For very wet doughs: soupy consistency and underdeveloped gluten)
Another ciabatta "shaping" (or rather, dividing) video
Ciabatta: loading the oven
What we made
We made nine different ciabatta doughs during the class, covering various techniques, preferments and grains. For all, except the first one, Didier used the double hydration technique.
- Ciabatta with poolish (short-mix technique): the dough is mixed until all the ingredients are just incorporated and the gluten is developed by a series of folds during fermentation. This technique is the most traditional
- Ciabatta for retarding, with sponge: allows for more flexibility in your production schedule
- Ciabatta with biga: this version uses the most traditional preferment
- Ciabatta with poolish: more modern version
- Multigrain ciabatta with whole wheat poolish and multigrain soaker: higher nutritional value
- Ancient grain ciabatta (with teff sponge and amaranth poolish): a functional bread*
- Ciabatta integrale (with sponge and cracked wheat soaker): 20% of the bread flour is replaced with whole wheat flour and a soaker is added for higher nutritional value
- Ciabatta with whole wheat poolish and flax soaker: a functional bread
- Breakfast ciabatta with poolish and chocolate pieces: plain yummy!
When time came to taste the ciabattas we made, we were hard put to choose and opinions differed wildly. For what it's worth, my three favorites were the plain one with poolish (which I found more delicately flavored and more interesting than the biga one), the functional one with whole wheat poolish and flax soaker and the one with candied orange and chocolate pieces.
Posts coming up:
Ancient Grain Ciabatta
Breakfast ciabatta with cherries, chocolate chips and hazelnuts
Subway Restaurants to Remove Chemical From Bread
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