Ciabatta, like baguette, is one of those "basic" but "difficult" breads to get right. I make it every so often just to test out different recipes and see whether my techniques have improved. I've done Jason's ciabatta before, great open crumb, but tasted only OK since it was a stright dough. BBA's version proved to be flavorful but not hole-y, like a flat version of french bread. This recipe is from Maggie Glezer's wonderful book " Artisan Baking Across America", it uses a 24 hour biga, which lends great flavor to the final produt. It's a very wet dough, with relatively little mixing, 4 sets of folding, which results in a very open crumb.
The recipe can be found here:http://lindseysluscious.blogspot.com/2006/03/ciabatta.html, but I highly recommend to buy the book. I did use some of my own techniques:
1. for the first 2 of the 4 S&F, the dough was still very loose, so I did folding in the bowl, the last two I did french folds like she instructed
2. I did NOT use any flour while handling the dough, used oil instead on my hands and counter top. Oil combined with swift movement is more effective for handling such wet dough, AND this way I dont mix in any extra flour
3. I did the dough dividing, shaping (letter fold), proofing (seam side down), final flipping (baked seam side up) all on the same big piece of parchment paper. Well oiled of course. This way all the turning upside down, and moving around can be done by flipping of the parchment paper, without over handling the sticky dough.
She instructs to dimple the dough before baking, which is opposite to the "dont' touch the dough, don't even breath on it, must preserve all the bubbles" theory. I did obey and the result is fantansic. I think it's like how baguette dough is handled - iron hands to get rid of big unsightly bubbles floating on top, which will actually encourage more holes through out the crumb.
The holes are big enough to see through!
Of course all the holes are not just for show, it's there for a good reason - for all the sandwich filling to fill in! Here's a new sandwich idea I got from food network, b
rie and chocolate panini. Look at all the cheese and chocolate melting into the holes, yum!
However, DH is complaining that with so many holes, it doesn't fill him up, haha!