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Sourdough Ciabatta

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bwraith's picture
bwraith

Sourdough Ciabatta

Sourdough Ciabatta 

 Sourdough Ciabatta CrustSourdough Ciabatta Crust: Sourdough Ciabatta Crust

Sourdough Ciabatta CrumbSourdough Ciabatta Crumb

Sourdough Ciabatta Crumb (lengthwise slice)Sourdough Ciabatta Crumb (lengthwise slice)

Sourdough Ciabatta w/Olive OilSourdough Ciabatta w/Olive Oil

One of the favorite family breads seems to be ciabatta, and this sourdough version is clearly preferred (wolfed down) by my kids for its flavor. I've achieved a little better crust and crumb with yeasted versions, particularly the one in Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking", but the sourdough flavor is hard to beat, especially with salty grilled left over meats in sandwiches. The recipe is loosely based on the BBA (Reinhart) "Poolish Ciabatta", as well as incorporating ideas from Maggie Glezer's version in "Artisan Baking".

This is a work in progress, but I like the way this one turned out. The flavor is a little mild, which may mean I need to lengthen and/or retard the fermentation, or maybe use somewhat more ripe starter, an exercise for future attempts.

Many thanks to various contributors to this site as always, and especially in this case to Zolablue, who encouraged me to pay more attention to ciabatta with some just great photos and discussions about how to achieve better holes in ciabatta through hydration, proper handling, and flour choice, all of which were used here.

Photos of process have been posted for this ciabatta and a sourdough raisin focaccia I made at the same time. A spreadsheet is also posted showing weights in ounces or grams.

Starter:

  • 16 oz BBA style barm fed w/KA organic AP flour (1:1 by weight flour:water)

The day before this bread was baked, I took my "BBA style barm", a 100% hydration starter fed with KA Bread Flour, out of the refrigerator. I fed it 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water) three times over the course of the day at room temperature, which refreshed the starter and built enough starter for this recipe, the sourdough raisin focaccia I also made the next day, as well as some left over to return to storage in the refrigerator. The larger amounts were made by feeding with KA organic AP flour, to convert to KA organic AP flour, a choice of a slightly lower protein flour that should be good for irregular, large holes and artisan style bread.

Dough:

  • 16 oz 100% hydration starter using KA organic AP Flour
  • 15 oz KA organic AP Flour
  • 2 oz KA Rye Blend Flour
  • 12 oz water
  • 0.5 oz salt (14 grams)

Autolyse:

Mix the flours and water together in a bowl (I used a dough hook for this). Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Mix:

Mix flours and water above with the 16 oz of starter, 0.5 oz salt, and mix for a couple of minutes - just long enough to thoroughly mix the starter and salt with the flour and water from the autolyse step. The dough should be quite "wet", meaning it will not clean the bottom or even much of the sides of the mixer bowl. It should be fairly sticky and already have a fair amount of gluten development.

Bulk Fermentation and Folding: (about 4.5 hours)

Make a fairly thick bed of flour on the counter about 12 inches square. Using a dough scraper, pour the dough out into the middle of the bed of flour. Allow it to rest for a few minutes. Then, fold the dough by flouring or wetting your hands, then grabbing one side of the dough and lifting and stretching it, folding it over itself like a letter. Do this for all 4 sides. Brush flour off the dough as you fold over the sides that were in contact with the bed of flour. You don't want to incorporate much flour into the dough as you fold. After folding, shape it gently back into a rectangle or square, spray it with a light coating of olive oil or some other oil spray, and dust very lightly with flour. Then cover it with plastic wrap, and drop a towel over it. If the dough seems a little stiff at this point, it unfortunately probably already doesn't have enough water in it. You can put it back in the mixer and add 1 oz of water and try again. Or, soldier on and adjust your water next time. Repeat the folds approximately every 45 minutes two more times. If the dough seems very resistant to stretching, only fold it from two directions instead of four. You don't want the dough to get really stiff from too much folding. The amount of folding you will need will be more if you have more water and less if you have less water. Note that even an ounce can make a very big difference in the consistency of the dough. After three folds, let the dough rise for another 2.5 to 3 hours, at which point, the dough should have doubled roughly in volume. Use the "poke test" to get a feel for how long to continue the bulk fermentation.

Shaping:

Divide the dough into four pieces of equal size, roll them in the bed of flour to dust the cut ends, and let them rest a few minutes. To shape, take one of the four pieces, stretch it out and roll it or fold it over itself very gently. With ciabatta this amounts to a gently stretch and fold like a letter. You want to create some tension in the surface of the dough by folding it over itself that way, then if you place the dough folds down on a couche, it will seal up the seams. Use the couche to create folds for the ciabatta and then nestle the folds between supports, such as bags of flour or whatever system you may have similar to what you might do for baguettes.

Final Proof:

Let them rise in the couche for about 2.5 hours, until they are puffy and have increased significantly in volume.

Prepare to Bake:

Preheat oven to 500F (yes, you can probably do it without preheating, as mentioned elsewhere on the site, but it's not what I did this time). While that is going on, take each loaf out of the couche, gently stretch it in one direction by about double, lay it on a peel, maybe with parchment paper underneath, maybe sprinkled with corn meal or similar, and use your fingertips to flatten out the loaf. You can press down fairly firmly to feel the peel underneath. It sounds crazy, but the loaf will bounce back just fine in the oven if it is not overproofed. This step is important to avoid "separation of crust and crumb" or "one gigantic hole" instead of many holes. It also evens out the loaf so it has a nicer shape after baking.

Bake:

Place loaves in the oven and lower temperature to 450F. Bake for about 13 minutes, until the internal temperature is around 207F (I'm near sea level), rotating them after about 9 minutes. You can bake them longer to get a darker, harder crust. Actually, I think this KA organic artisan AP flour may benefit from a little bit of added diastatic malted barley flour, as the breads I baked with this flour today were more pale than previous results with KA AP or KA Bread Flour combinations. I don't think I overproofed them, but maybe that's a factor. The loaves should spring up from their "flattening" with your fingertips, such that not much evidence is left of the dimples you made with your fingers.

Cool:

Let bread completely cool, if you can stand to wait.

This bread is especially good for sandwiches, sliced in half and then sliced along the "flat" direction to open up like a hamburger bun. It is great for burgers, steak sandwiches, ham, or just with olive oil and pepper.

Comments

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

Great work bwraith! Nice crumb!

I'm curious what your room temperature was for proofing the dough? 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pumpkinpapa,

Thanks for your comment on the crumb. The temperature in the kitchen today was about 73F. It's still a little cool outside, but there was some cooking, lights on, and the usual refrigerator/freezer heat, so it got a little warmer in here than it has been lately.

Bill

hug5901's picture
hug5901

Starter:



  • 16 oz BBA style barm fed w/KA organic AP flour (1:1 by weight flour:water)


The day before this bread was baked, I took my "BBA style barm", a 100% hydration starter fed with KA Bread Flour, out of the refrigerator. I fed it 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water) three times over the course of the day at room temperature, which refreshed the starter and built enough starter for this recipe, the sourdough raisin focaccia I also made the next day, as well as some left over to return to storage in the refrigerator. The larger amounts were made by feeding with KA organic AP flour, to convert to KA organic AP flour, a choice of a slightly lower protein flour that should be good for irregular, large holes and artisan style bread.


Hi Bill,


I am new baker. I did try to bake artisan bread few times but the result were not turning what I expected. I have read your blog and have been impressed your result and I would like to have another go with your recipe but I have questions. For the starter,


1.  According your recipe, How much flour do I need to mix for creating the starter?


2.  What do you mean that feed the starter 3 times over the course? Can you specific in "Times in a day" or "Every xx hours or so" Sorry, if this is a silly question but I am so new.


3.  How much flour do I need to feed the starter?


4.  How long do I need to leave the starter until I can use it?


5. What is the Autolyse?


I think I would bother you for just this point for now. I hope you would have some time to give me answers. I am Thai but have lots of passion for baking. I am now living in the UK.


Thanks in advance for the blogs.


Sunee

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

That looks wonderful!!

zolablue's picture
zolablue

 Beeoootiful loaves!  If I could only grab them and bite down - OMG!

I swear, I am so psyched to sign on and see this.  I've been thinking about this for days.  I keep thinking about your making sourdough ciabatta and just said to my hubby I was trying to figure out how to get this done tomorrow.  This is perfect timing!

I love the fact that you can do this in one day.  However, if one were to make a levain the night before how would you do that, keeping in mind I use the firm starter.  Would you basically make the poolish and estimate the starter amount needed and then leave it out at room temp rather than refrigerate it?

You know, I also love ciabatta so much, that being the first bread I ever baked.  We did have such a great time on that ciabatta challenge thread and now we should do it again with the sourdough.  Super timing - I love this!  I'm makin' it tomorrow and my starter is ripe to rob from.  :o)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Well that is impressive! I've been thinking about ciabatta ever since you posted the sandwich photo's. Now I'm hooked. I can't get over how holey those are. Are you getting a sour flavor or is it more mellow?

Eric

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Eric,

The flavor is very mellow. I probably should have let the starter mature more. In the past I've made the ciabatta by using more like 50% of the total flour coming from starter, but I had problems with it not rising properly, even after adding instant yeast in a "hybrid method" attempt. However, the flavor was very good in those "hybrid method" ciabattas.This one has a crumb that is much more like yeasted ciabattas I've made. I used 30% of the flour coming from the starter this time. It seems to work better as far as the characteristics of the dough and texture of the crumb, but the flavor is very mild. I believe that just letting the starter become a little more mature, and then running the bulk fermentation and final proof a little longer would probably bring in more flavor. The loaves seemed to have more rising capacity with the timing in the recipe, so I think it would work to just lengthen out the fermentations. You might be able to retard either the bulk fermentation or the final proof, as another strategy.

Bill

ehanner's picture
ehanner

They really look nice Bill. There are so many moving targets in this sourdough timing thing and I'm still enough of a newbie that I'm surprised at the results. I have found myself wanting to use less yeast and more straight sourdough starter in everything. Seeing your results is encouraging, thanks.

Eric

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Eric,

I rarely do yeast raised breads, basically because my "customers" around here, myself included, seem to prefer the flavor of sourdough breads, no matter how bad I mess up the texture. I basically assumed getting the texture right was unattainable except for maybe the BBA basic sourdough recipe, at least for me, until I saw posts on this site showing beautiful crusts, crumb, and oven spring on breads I had just assumed were very difficult if not impossible to get right here at home, particularly breads using more whole grains or higher hydration sourdough breads. I've learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it while following along and participating here.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I posted this recipe in particular, largely because of your enthusiasm for ciabatta, which has been such a topic of discussion for us, and your questions about converting yeast recipes to sourdough. I had been making sourdough ciabatta before, as you know, but this is a Zolablue style sourdough ciabatta. You should be able to take this recipe and apply your handling skills. If it comes out right, as I think you can make it, I would really like to see some of photography, Zolablue style.

As far as making the starter, you could take a small amount of your firm starter, like 1oz, and add 7.5 oz water and 7.5 oz KA "artisan select" AP. The idea is to get 16oz total of approximately 100% hydration KA organic AP starter. This procedure is what I meant back when I said you could always make a "recipe starter" from your firm starter, same as I would do converting to a starter needed for some recipe that uses a firm starter or that uses different flours in the starter. Let it rise by double, then refrigerate. That is a big expansion, so it should take a while to double, maybe 9 hours, I would think, but this is not something I have done. It should work fine, though, short of my uncertainty on how long it would take. For more flavor let it ripen a little more, i.e. let it rise more than double, but not too much more. The rising rule is not that reliable, so pay attention to how it smells and that it is not getting runny or stringy. Or, you can lengthen out the bulk fermentation a little more than I did. Either one or both should help to get a little more flavor than mine had, although the kids wolfed down two loaves in a matter of minutes, so the flavor of this one was fine, as it was.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...in fact, I did this as an experiment with a French bread recipe (ehanner's inspiration video of Julia Child's) and got incredible results.  I have an entire photo pictorial but I won't post it here because this is on ciabatta.  I ended up making a stiff rye levain and liquid white levain and added to the regular French bread dough recipe the next day.  I actually used 75g total for that recipe, because it was a 2-day refrigerated & unrefreshed "discarded" part of my starter.  It doubled 2 quarts of dough in about 3 1/2 hours so I know that starter is very strong.  In fact, I had a concern that you can use too much of a starter but I suppose that is not a worry other than if you like the flavor.  Flavor was great, btw. :o)

I'm going to mix up per your instructions and see how this turns out.  This is going to be fun!

Bill, you are so sweet and complimentary and I feel totally unworthy.  I can't tell you though how much fun this is and I love the way everyone interacts on this site.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I'm not sure how long it would take, then. I haven't kept a firm starter, as in Glezer. However, I don't think you will have a problem converting, other than not knowing exactly how long it would take to double. I probably am overestimating the time, though. If you figure that 1 oz of your firm starter has 2/3 of an ounce of flour, then the expansion of flour if you add 7.5 oz flour and 7.5 ounces water is roughly 12 times. When I feed by 1:2:2, it takes 4 hours to double, which is a 5x expansion. So, you could say it has to double a little more than twice to go from 5x to 12x, which is how I come up with 9 hours, i.e. a little more than two 4 hour doubling periods. That's probably an overestimate, because there is a dormant period at the beginning and a saturation period at the end of the rising cycle. The generation time is probably only a little over an hour. So another estimate might be to add on two generation times, or very roughly 2-2.5 hours. That would make 6-6.5 hours. I'll be curious to know what happens. I don't think the yeast can be "too strong" or "too much" with such a small amount of firm starter added, but maybe I'm wrong. It seems to me that if you let it become active and rise by double, that is a good indication of the approximate maturity of the starter. It may not be exactly the same as a long maintained 100% hydration starter, but it should be pretty close to the same.

Bill

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I love the flavor that sourdough adds to ciabatta--and you've gotten the best crumb I've seen yet with the technique!

 

Nice job and thanks for sharing--I'll be sure to refer to this thread on my next batch. 

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Bwraith

Sourdough Ciabatta, I can't imagine anything that could top that.

Randy says Yo Dog, you worked it out!

Paula stands up holds her arms up to indicate a touchdown before saying "home run"

And Simon says "at this point in the competition, I would expect more"  but what does he know about bread anyway?

Sorry I could not contain myself, I really do need help.  If you don't watch Am. Idol you reallllly think i'm nuts. Oh well.  Anyway, that bread is spectacular.  I can only guess the taste is wonderful.  I do have a few questions.  I have made a few weak attempts at this type of bread.  Both times the crumb was very chewy.  How was your crumb?  I also have a really hard time telling when this type of bread is fully proofed.  It is so soft it seems like when you poke it it leaves a dent at anytime throughout the fermentation.  Whats your determining factor when it comes to proofing?  Once again congrats on a great Ciabatta and detailed write up.

Da Crumb Bum

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hey Da Crumb Bum,

Thanks for the comments. I do watch American Idol - can't resist following along - love Melinda. Join the club on being nuts, American Idol fan or not. I still don't get Sanjaya, but I'm hoping to get a clue from my daughter at some point.

On the crumb, no I would say it is not too chewy in this recipe. I did get that chewy crumb you're mentioning when I tried doing the BBA poolish recipe with poolish substituted with starter (high percentage, like 50% of the total flour, of poolish/starter in that recipe), and the starter was all KA bread flour. This time, I built the 30 oz of starter for the ciabatta and the raisin focaccia (another blog entry) from KA organic AP. Also, I cut back on the percentage of flour coming from the preferment, i.e. more like 30% instead of close to 50%. I think that helped to get a good dough texture of the initial dough. I also put in more water in the dough than in the BBA poolish ciabatta recipe. I used KA organic AP for the dough, plus a little rye. The crumb result seems softer and more creamy, had the holes you see, and the dough was more extensible, easier to work with. I think it definitely had a better mouth feel, and more like the yeast raised one I posted on the barbecue bread thread recently. It was mild tasting, but my family seems to still tune right in to the sourdough flavors. I always get a big thumbs up on the flavor w/SD, so it keeps me going down the SD track.

The crust is fairly chewy, though. I had misted it pre-baking a little and dripped water onto an iron skillet and so on, but I think I'll go back to a dry oven, which I had been doing previously, when I do the next version. I guess it depends on whether you want a sandwich or just to eat the bread. The thicker chewy crust is nice for just the bread w/olive oil, but a thin, dry, easy to bite off and chew crust might be better for sandwiches.

In any event, I think the big progress on this one for me was using a lower percentage of starter than poolish, using AP to build the starter, and pushing the edge a little on hydration. It was not so wet as to be difficult to manage on a bed of flour, but it did spread out a little when poured onto the bed of flour. The first couple of times I folded it four ways, but then it got stiff, so I folded only two ways the final time.

Oh, on the poke test, I know what you mean. I was poking near the edge on the side. At first the indentation would stay, even though the dough was just laid out on the table. After a couple of hours, it was bouncing back nicely on the side, but on top it would still just poke in and just stay, as if it was overproofed, but it was clearly too early just timewise. So, I used the poke test on the side. For some reason that worked, because at some point the side went from bouncing right back out to staying indented for a while. That's when I went to shaping. It's hard to separate my familiarity with my own starter's behavior from all this, so maybe I'm just fooling myself that the poke test works in this case.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I made this yesterday, having made a levain the night before as you recommended.  So I mixed up the dough and vowed to follow your instructions exactly.  I had the most trouble forcing myself to allow the dough to sit on the counter to proof during folding rather than put into a bowl or tub as I usually do.

I simply could not tell if it was proofed enough.  I had no idea if it had doubled but I guessed and formed the loaves.  Then I could not tell if they'd proofed long enough in the couche.  Btw, I didn't spray with oil as I never do that since the couche doesn't want an oiled dough and I don't want to contaminate it.

So, my results were that the bread tasted fabulous!  However, it did not spring in the oven.  This is the first time I have ever made bascially flat ciabatte. (Boo hoo!)  The thickest place in any loaf was about 2 inches.  But the crumb was fantasic and very open.

Please tell me why this did not rise up in the oven.  Does it sound like I did not allow it to proof long enough?  Or overproof?  

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

Well, I'm not sure why it didn't rise properly. One thing is that hydration seems to be very sensitive in this recipe. The sourdough focaccia had a little less hydration, and it seemed a lot less vigorous, although it has pretty much the same dough formula. The dough should spread out on the table after mixing at least a little bit. Also, you have to be careful not to mix too much flour into it while folding with the counter method. Actually, I was sort of hoping you would try the Glezer methods, which I almost went with. It's just I haven't done it in a bowl yet, so I didn't want to change too many of my procedures in one shot.

Did you let the levain rise by double, then refrigerate? How long did it take for the levain to double? Just curious how that went. I added warm water to the dough itself during the autolyse, by the way. I wonder if that may be more important than I think to getting it up to temperature and "wake it up". Also, just because of being pokey in the morning, I took the levain out of the refrigerator and it sat on the counter for about an hour before I actually got it all mixed into the dough. Maybe that hour of warming up helped it too. I wonder if there is some problem with getting the firm starter adjusted to 100% hydration. You could try building the levain as follows: add 1 oz of starter to 2 oz water, 2 oz flour. Let that rise by double (should take 4 hours at 72F). Then, add 5.5 oz water, 5.5 oz flour and let rise by double again, and should take 4 hours. If it takes much more than 4 hours for those rises, maybe there is some problem with getting the starter switched over to 100% hydration. One other subtle issue might be the temperature of the refrigerator. Mine is at about 40F. If it's a lot colder or a lot warmer, I suppose that could have some effect, either in letting it get too ripe or in shutting down the culture by being too cold.

My dough was quite puffed up at the end of the bulk fermentation. I can't say whether it doubled or not, but I would say it did double. After the final proof, the loaves are clearly much puffier than when they are put in the couche. I don't know if you can tell there are pictures of my process, but look for a link that may be faint up above.

It may also have to do with the temperature of your counter. That's one reason to use a bowl, as in Glezer, since you're pretty much stuck with the counter temperature if you do it all on the counter.

I so far have not achieved as much oven spring with the SD version compared to the yeasted one I did in MT, in any event. In my case, even if they spring fairly well, they are only about 2 inches tall in the middle becaues they aren't that large. That is fine with me, since I want them for sandwiches.

Da Crumb Bum also points out that it's a little hard to tell when they have proofed enough with the poke test. My timing was all happening at about 73F, so you could adjust the timing, and just see how it goes. Of course, each starter is a little different, so it's very tough to match conditions.

As I've mentioned, I can't get quite as light and airy of a crumb with SD methods, but the flavor is very good, so the demand around here ends up being greater for the SD regardless of the fact the yeast raised ones have a little nicer texture.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I measured my loaves, and they are less than 2 inches high in the middle. After I dimpled them they were no more than an inch thick. You can see them in the pictures I posted (link).

SD ciabatta dough, end of bulk fermentation

SD ciabatta prebake, dimpled

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

ZB,

Well, as I was looking at the time stamp on my photos and looking at my notes, I realize my recipe said to wait another 1.5-2 hours after the last fold, and actually, it should read 2.5-3 hours (I corrected the blog entry), based on what I actually did. Sorry about that, as it may well explain why they didn't quite rise properly. I still think you may have to adjust your expectation down a little as far as spring, crumb lightness, etc., with the SD recipe, even so, as you may notice from my other posts. Thanks for making me check everything - sorry, sorry you went to all that trouble with the wrong timing.

Meanwhile, it may also be the case that some adjustment to hydration, preferment percentage (I am guessing that going even a little less on the preferment percentage may help), and timing, may get closer to the performance of something like the Glezer recipe. Also, I'd love it if you try again using your best instincts on the handling and hydration instead of following my version, if you have the patience to do it again. I just have a feeling, after seeing your results on that ciabatta challenge, that you could get it figured out.

One other thing to try is to just spike the dough w/1 tsp of yeast or so. That's what I did when I used the BBA recipe literally, as it wouldn't rise properly without it. This version works fine for me without the yeast spike, but I imagine you could use something like 20-25% preferment (preferment flour contributed to total flour) and a yeast spike, which ought to get something that has plenty of the SD flavor but rises a little more quickly and with a texture closer to what you would get with the Glezer recipe.

Bill 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Sorry, I was busy baking – chocolate chip cookies and Della Fattoria Rustic Garlic bread again. :o)   Bill, first of all I think you’ll have better results using the bowl.  I think it helps the dough rise somehow but maybe I’m wrong.  Just seemed when I left it on the counter it spread more rather that rise upward which I guess is natural.  (Don’t say…duh! :o) 

The levain almost tripled and I left it out at room temp all night.  I’m not sure how long that took but it was out about 8 or 9 hours before I mixed the dough and it was warm, obviously, so that was not a factor. 

My dough was sufficiently wet although not nearly as much as my yeasted one in our “ciabatta challenge.”  I was very careful not to add too much flour.  I started using a sieve to sprinkle the flour because that artisan select is really lumpy and harder to control the amount you sprinkle with your hand – do you find that as well? 

Now, reading all your posts, I really do think it was a few things.  I think, because of the colder temps here of late, I should have used a twee bit more of my starter.  I used roughly 25 grams which is fine for most recipes but if I’d have used even 10 grams more I think that would have mattered.  So then that affected my rise times and basically I just plain didn’t wait long enough for it to rise fully.  I was so anxious and I just didn’t wait.  I perhaps should have waited even 4 hours or more as can happen with many of my Glezer recipes. 

Having said that, since my final two loaves were at 2 inches at their highest point that’s not so bad, huh?  I thought yours looked bigger than that from the photos.  And, please, do not be sorry at all.  I had a blast doing this and it is a great learning experience – never a waste of time.  I really want to master this without adding commercial yeast so I will try again.  I’m going to make some modifications and try again using the Glezer recipe.  I will let you know.  Now I am on a mission to master this!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

Good to hear your feedback on all that. If I had to put my finger on one thing you mentioned, it would be not to let the culture rise by triple. Only let it rise for about 4-6 hours, i.e. by double or so before you refrigerate it. I find my rises are better with the 100% hydration starter if I do that. You may get more mild bread, and then you can adjust either the rise time of the culture, the rise time of the dough, or both if you want to get the flavor to come out a little stronger. There are two reasons for not letting the culture get too ripe. 1) I think that the gluten in the dough may break down somewhat with 30% preferment coming from a very ripe sourdough culture. The other thing is that by the time it has tripled, it may have reached high enough acid levels and low enough pH to attenuate the culture, as it is getting pretty ripe and fully saturated at that point. Then it still has to live in the refrigerator for a while, where it will continue to consume nutrients and produce acids, although at a slower rate.

I don't think it will matter much if you use a little more or less starter. That will just increase or reduce the time slightly that it takes for the 1:1 starter to rise by double. The idea is to end up with 16oz of mildly ripe culture, then refrigerate. You can do that with 1tsp, 1tbl, 1oz, 2oz, etc., of your starter with remaining flour and water to make 16oz total, and the time for it to double or become mildly ripe will just decrease as you increase the amount of starter you put in.

I do like the sound of the Glezer approach to handling it, and I'd love to hear, if and when you give it a try, how it works out. But, do give a try to refrigerating the culture a little earlier. Hopefully, I'll give the Glezer approach a try soon myself. However, I keep changing other stuff, and then I don't feel confident about taking the plunge into the bowl method.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...although I think the levain for the Thom Leonard boule I made last week tripled and that was fabulous bread.  I will make note of that info however.  Also, I did an experiment with adding a levain to basic French bread and chronicled it here where you can see it almost tripled as well and that bread rose very quickly albeit I used about 75 grams of starter - discarded starter from a 2-day refrigeration:

http://zolablue.smugmug.com/gallery/2674244#141567321

I had a couple of the SD ciabatte leftover (that is what happens when I don't give it to the neighbors as usual) so I thought I should snap some photos to show you.  Again, I think I was comparing to my normal yeasted ciabatte and so this was a shock.  Still, not so bad now as it is revealed its probably the proper size and the flavor was really good!  More photos here:

http://zolablue.smugmug.com/gallery/2706318#143400946

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

LOL, you are messing with my head. That ciabatta there looks just great to me. Here I thought you'd had a disaster, but I'd say that's a winner. I would still recommend you try out using the starter a little earlier. With a 1:1 starter, I think it will work better if you don't let it go so far. I suspect that your experience with a firm starter is that you let it rise higher before it's ready compared to how things tend to work with a more liquid starter. The dough handling in the early stages and later rise should be a little better, is my guess, with the starter a little younger. Anyway, I'll be very curious if you do try this again to hear what the results are. It looks really good.

Can you tell me what temperature you baked and how long, and what you did with the crust? It looks very good. I may want to try whatever you've done there.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...the high standards set on this site!  No matter how good the bread comes out (or how not so good) don't you always think the next loaf has to be better.  Yep!

Again, the Thom Leonard recipe, per Glezer, does triple and is left at room temp overnight so I'm not so sure that is a problem.  However, I'm willing to take this under advisement and I'll keep an eye on any differences I notice and will report! :o)

While a firm starter must rise higher (quadrupling in 8 hours or less) it is still extremely viable for a minimum of 12 hours after that time period at room temp.  How long does it take, typically, for a liquid starter to double (since I have no idea)?  I'm not sure I agree with your assessment since I used a 2-day old, unrefreshed and refrigerated starter to raise 2 quarts of dough in 3 1/2 hours when I made the French country sourdough.  I think that is incredible.

I wanted to go strictly by your recipe for the first time to have a baseline comparison.  So I baked the loaves at 450.  However, I did bake them about 15 minutes.  I have a French range with smaller than normal ovens and they came equipped with sliding floor pans so those are a great way to create steam.  I don't know if the physics of a smaller oven matters but I've wondered as my breads seem to get darker quicker.  I also keep thermometers in both my ovens so I'm always sure of accurate temps.

I am going to build another levain and try this again tomorrow.  My plan is to modify the Ponsford recipe in Glezer and see what happens.  Since that recipe uses a biga that is supposed to ferment for 24 hours would it be possible to think I could rather create a leavin which I'd leave at room temp for a few hours (like you said) and then refrigerate it for the remainder of the time.  That would mean, if I mix it up shortly, it would be out a few hours (maybe 4) and then refrigerated for over 12 hours.  Sound ok on this type of levain?  I can't wait to do this again.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

The percentage of flour coming from the levain in the Thom Leonard Country French recipe is about half of what I have in that SD ciabatta. I think that means you can let the levain in the Thom Leonard version get more ripe. You're feeding the levain at a higher ratio, so the dough will dilute the acids in the levain and it will have time to rise and grow into the dough in a more balanced way relative to the fermentation products that would be in that more ripe levain. To some extent, I've been migrating my recipe to a lower percentage coming from the SD levain compared to the BBA poolish ciabatta recipe and closer to the percentage in the "basic sourdough BBA recipe" but still more than the percentage in the Thom Leonard Country French. I had a hard time getting as nice a crumb using close to 50% of flour from the SD levain, like in the BBA poolish ciabatta. Also, the flavor seemed a little milder but better in some way with this recent version that has closer to 30% flour coming from the levain.

Yes, you can build a firm levain similar to the biga. You could add 75g of starter and take out some of the flour and water from the biga recipe to get the same dough consistency and amount. Then you could let it rise at room temperature for a few hours so it more or less doubles and refrigerate it. This is very similar to what you do for the "firm starter" in the "basic sourdough" recipe in the BBA. I would suggest that you do the same thing I did for my "poolish version" of the ciabatta, which is to reduce the size of the biga so that about 30% of the total flour in the recipe, or perhaps even less, is coming from your levain. I think it will work better, at least it does for me. I would also not let the levain get too ripe, same as my suggestion for the starter in the SD ciabatta I've posted.

Have fun, and I'll be very interested to know how this goes.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

Here is a 30% flour from starter, firm starter recipe version, of the sourdough ciabatta. You could do a very similar thing as what you did before to build it. It calls for 12 oz of firm "recipe starter", so you could put in 1 ounce of your starter and add 6.7 oz of flour and 4.3 oz of water, let sit at room temperature until doubled, and refrigerate overnight.

Bill

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Hi Bill,Could you tell me the size of the loaves after baking so I know what to expect. Including the height you end up with. Thanks for your time.                                                                                                                                               weavershouse

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Weavershouse,

Each one came out about 10x5x2 inches. The height is at the middle, highest point. The loaves, when dimpled down, as they are just before going into the oven, and as seen in photos in a recent post, are probably about 10x5x1 inch or even a little less. They bounce up in the oven - not quite as dramatically as the yeasted ones I've done - but they do lose most of the evidence of the dimples and get to be about 2 inches high.

Bill

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I baked ciabatta's today using your methods but I had some KA Italian Style Flour I wanted to use up so I substituted. Not good. No rise and pale kind of tough crust. I'm going to try again this time using your flour suggestions. Thanks for all the time you've put into this and for the great photos.                                                                     weavershouse

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Weavershouse,

I've used KA Italian style flour occasionally for part but not all of the flour in SD recipes. However, I did an experiment not that long ago switching my starter over to the KA Italian style flour - testing how it would hold up, and it turned to pea soup very quickly - within a few hours of feeding. When I've used it for the flour in the dough in the SD focaccia, which I tried once, the dough came out almost mealy in texture. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't what I wanted, so I have not tried KA Italian style flour in SD recipes after that. I think it's just too weak, or at least I can't get it to work well for this type of bread with my usual methods.

I've had reasonable results with KA bread flour in these recipes, but I still think the best results I've had so far with sourdough focaccias and  ciabattas have come from using the KA organic AP for the whole recipe. I could see a good argument for building the starter with bread flour and the rest of the dough with AP, so that the gluten in the preferment is not as weakened by all the time exposed to the acids from the sourdough fermentation, but I have not yet tried that exact combination.

Bill

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

 Thanks Bill, that's exactly what my dough was like, pea soup. I'm pretty good now at handling wet doughs but that was too much for me. Lesson learned.

This was not a good day for any of my baking. To try another thing I decided to follow the recipe that came with my La Cloche and just let the dough do it's final rise in a cold La Cloche then put a cold lid on and put it into a preheated oven. I was using the round and the long "French Baker". The bread was beautiful but stuck to the pots like it was glued there. I've never, ever, had bread stick in those pots, why did I try that. Well, another lesson learned.    
Thanks again for your help.                                                                                            weavershouse

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Weaverhouse & Bill, we have a lot in common.  My AP chinese flour is just like KA Italian style you write about.  I've been baking using a casserole just to get some shape.  Sticking? most all the time but after a half hour cooling it falls out.  It's what you get used to and how you deal with it.  I'll have to remember that, KA Italian style, no wonder most of my bread resembles ciabatta!  Now you know where I'm coming from.  

It does make great pizza crusts!  I make 30cm rounds using 230g of dough and prebake them 6 min. at 220°c, leave it in longer you got crackers!   --Mini Oven

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

Wow, bwraith! You have us all baking ciabatta! I am half way through your Sourdough ciabatta with quite a few modifications. I read that artisan breads need lower protein flours so I checked my store bought bread flour and found that it is 3% protein. Is that low/ high, what?  I've been baking primarily with a Washington high-gluten flour but switched to the "bread flour" for this baking. My sourdough starter is fed sometimes with high-gluten sometimes with a flour labeled pizza blend. I must get a bit more scientific if I want to get consistent results!

I've plopped the dough back into a bowl between foldings; I missed that part about leaving it on the counter entirely. My dough has been lightly folded three times with about an hour between proofings and it is very soft. I'm thinking that is good but I'm not sure, what say? Even if the results are sad, I'll snap a photo. Thanks for all the good info!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and mine is probably between 7% and 8.5%.   Hi,    I would fold it a few more times with only 30 minutes between.  (You can cut it in half and try different ways.)  And if it keeps flattening out like a pancake and you want more height, set it gently into a baking form.  Hope you're letting it rise in a warm place.  --Mini Oven

bwraith's picture
bwraith

redivyfarm,

I'm not sure that 3% makes sense. Maybe that is an label error, definition of terms problem, or some other error there.

Yes, it should be kind of soft and puffy. At the point you shape loaves, you can roll it up a little more and then fold the roll ends under a little, if you don't get any surface tension from just doing a stretch and a letter fold.

Good luck. I hope it comes out OK. Let me know if you figure out what's going on with that 3% protein number.

Bill

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

bwraith, mini-oven,

Thanks for your responses. Regarding the protein; I went back to the label and it is 3 grams per 30 grams or 10%. I keep insisting that I don't need glasses!

I have halogen lamps in my range hood that give me 85- 90 degrees for a quick rise but I try to move away from there if I want to slow the fermentation. I've been working on this for about 12 hours now. The dough is really soft and puffy. I did fold it and incorporate in a bit more flour and then left it to rise for about 2 hours. It doubled and then some!  I just learned how to refresh my sourdough starter and now it is out of control! The dough is so sticky that I folded it a bit more as I formed it. I had a cotton towel floured and ready to use for the final proof but I lost my nerve and put the loaves on oiled paper on baking sheets instead. I may have overproofed; I'll let you know the results and thanks again.

redivyfarm

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

-is really delicious-- but it is not bwraith's by a long shot!  I highly recommend the recipe.  I'll try again.

Sourdough Ciabatta #1

Sourdough Ciabatta

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Not bad for a first try.  Not bad at all.   I have to add milk, egg and potato to get my flour to make a fine crumb.  Next time, after you've mixed up all your dough ingedients, try letting it stand 30 minutes before you kneed, you will use less flour and maybe get more stretch and bubbles. Less folds once it starts rising and be gentle so as not to break up the bubbles too much.  What do you think Bill?   --Mini Oven

bwraith's picture
bwraith

My first attempts were about like that, too. It's very nice bread, big holes or not, especially if it tastes great.

I agree the flour might use some help from some egg, milk, or both, if the protein level is low.

Also, you can definitely just add yeast to the dough, maybe 1tsp instant yeast to help it along.

With lower protein flour I could see using a lower percentage of preferment, say use 12 oz of culture, add 2 oz of water and 2 oz of flour to the dough, and use 1 tsp of yeast to speed up the rise. That should still give it some nice SD flavor, but it would rise fast enough to avoid the flour breaking down with too much acid from the culture.

Bill

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

about the relationship of protein in the flour to getting an artisan bread texture. I can certainly understand that the culture may "digest" the proteins in the flour during a long fermentation (like tenderizing meat?).

I'm going to try all of your suggestions, bwraith and minioven; and thank you!

With no information beyond the memory of bread from a great little bakery in Gearhart, OR, I thought I must need high gluten flour and/or vital gluten. I used these until I found this site and read that bakers get the best results with weaker flours. Does weaker mean lower protein or lower gluten?  The crumb has remained essentially the same with the flours I've tried.

This was my first baking to use sourdough starter exclusively. My other recipes called for instant yeast also. Getting such a vigorous proof from my oft neglected starter was a real confidence builder.  The flavor of the long ferment is so great that I may be unable to go back to the breads that I was once satisfied with.

I think that if you are kind enough to help me with the science, I will find the art along the way.

For now I'll console myself by popping some of this ciabatta in the toaster!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

redivyfarm,

If there is too little protein, like 9% or so, or the protein somehow doesn't produce a good gluten, then the sourdough acids can break it down after a while and cause problems with rising. If the protein level is too high, like 15% or so, then it can be more difficult to get irregular holes. The dough can become too stiff and the crumb comes out tougher sometimes with very high protein flour. In the middle, like 11-12%, as what an all purpose flour often is, can be the best for artisan style breads. You get good gluten development but it is not too stiff. It's easier to get the dough to have the right consistency after the gluten has developed. Having said that it's often possible with some handling techniques, hydration adjustments, and/or additions of certain additives (egg, milk, potato, vital wheat gluten, ascorbic acid) to change the crust or crumb closer to some objective, even if your flour isn't ideal for the particular type of bread you want to make.

Mini-Oven has experience with some of these issues because of working with very low protein flour.

Bill

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

By a process of elimination, and with the help of this forum, I'll figure out the adjustments to ingredients and technique needed for improved results.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...but my results were not quite as good as with your recipe.  I used the Ponsford recipe in Glezer and basically used 30g of my firm starter instead of the 1/384 teaspoon of yeast.  I left it to sit overnight - no refrigeration and I did that because all of Glezer's levains sit out at room temp.

Then for the dough I used an addition 50g of firm starter but reduced the overall flour by 80g (for all the starter used).  I really did not want to make the flour reduction because I have had much better luck with simply adding to the recipe and adjusting the salt to add a bit for the extra flour in the starter added.  But I persevered with this very wet dough. 

It doubled in bulk in roughly 3 hours but I did not get to it until 3 1/2 hours.  I formed the loaves which were still very wet and placed in my couche.  I then allowed them to get really big and puffy which took another 2 hours.  I think I let them overproof because they were actually starting to almost split open and looked a bit gooey.  (Does that sound like overproofing?)  So naturally when I baked them they did not rise again. 

The result was that, again, they tasted delicious!  However these, while they had a really nice open crumb, was not quite as open as with your recipe.  Unfortunately, I gave 2 of the 3 loaves to my neighbors for their dinners so I didn't get to cut into those to see the crumb, which would have been interesting since I baked them first.  Also, I measured my loaf at its highest point and it was about 1 3/4 inches. 

So, my question is...do I keep trying?  Is this always going to be the nature of sourdough ciabatta?  Or was my dough too wet - not enough flour?  Overproofing?  I seem to have a terrible problem with understanding proper proofing time for sourdough and would love to have a discussion about that.  I'm not saying I'm giving up but if sourdough ciabatta is indeed this wimpy, albeit great tasting bread, I think I might like saving my sourdough for other loaves and making the wonderful Ponsford ciabatta like the recipe calls for - that stuff is awesome as you know.  Plus the BBA one I modified for our challenge was fantastic in that regard.

Tell me.  Is flat the meaning of sourdough ciabatta?  (boo hooo...:o)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

What happened with by converting directly from Ponsford-Glezer Ciabatta makes sense to me. I've tried similar approaches with the BBA ciabatta. The problem is that both of those recipes have around 50% of the flour coming from a preferment. Even if I do the poolish ciabatta (which might be lower in acids) in that way, and even if I use a young starter, i.e. only risen by double or  less, I get the result you're talking about. The recipe I've posted here used more like 30% of the flour being contributed by the starter. It works a lot better than when I used 50% flour coming from a preferment. In fact, doing it like you did it above, or like the BBA poolish ciabatta with SD starter subtstituted, I had to spike the recipe with about 1 tsp of instant yeast. Then it will at least rise a little faster before the acids kill the gluten.

If you want to keep trying, I suggest you try the recipe in the blog again, but this time use a younger starter, so that the acid levels are lower when you form the dough. If you want to take it a step further, I would suggest dropping the amount of starter a little more, like use 12 ounces of starter instead of 16, and increase the flour and water appropriately in the dough.

Or, try the biga version below, that I posted. That uses a lower preferment percentage. However, you should only let the biga rise by double, after which I would refrigerate it.

If the concentration of sourdough fermentation byproducts is too high, the gluten changes to a gooey texture, which I think is what is happening both when you use too high a percentage of preferment and also if you let the preferments become too ripe.

The taste will be milder with a younger preferment (but probably more flavorful than the yeast version), but the texture should be much better. In any event, the texture is somewhat different and the rise probably will not be quite as dramatic, and I have yet to find a way to get completely around that.

Let me try to summarize all that. The flavors in a SD starter should be stronger than in a poolish or biga created with yeast. However, the acids that break down the gluten are stronger also. So, to get similar results, use a smaller proportion of SD preferment, and don't let the SD preferment ripen too much.

Having said all that, I'm surprised that you weren't very pleased with that first one you did. The photos look great to me. Maybe it isn't quite as tall, but if it has those good SD flavors and has that beautiful hole filled crumb I saw, crust looked perfect, it seems like a very nice result.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...and I'm not ashamed.  (lol)  Now, please understand I was very happy with my first attempt at the sourdough ciabatta although I did want my loaves a bit plumper.  Still the taste and texture was so good.

I found myself yesterday obssessing about the bread, all gone from the night before having given 2/3 of it away.  But it was around noonish and I had not prepared a levain the night before.  So, I told hubby, I'm going to experiment with making a one-day ciabatta and use a bunch of my sourdough starter and just see what happens.

 

Well, I made the ciabatta and also used the dough to form 4 nice 4-ounce hamburger buns and I did it beginning to baked in 6 hours.  And, guess what.  It was good.  I admit to adding 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast just because I knew I had to hurry.  The bread was fantastic.  And the ciabatta was plump at 2 5/8" high.  I suppose that was the yeast part but no matter the stuff tasted fantastic.  Now I know when I'm in a pinch I can make ciabatta in a hurry.  Who needs an overnight levain when you load that sucker full of discarded fermented starter!  :o)

http://zolablue.smugmug.com/gallery/2721931#144377227

bwraith's picture
bwraith

shame on you...

Anyway, yes, I think it's a valid approach, and I blogged an olive bread that happened for a similar reason. I would be interested to know the dough recipe you used for the one in the photos. It looks absolutely beautiful, and I'd like to know how much preferment, how much flour, hydration, etc., if you have the time to just summarize that information. Also, it would be interesting to know anything you do special in pre-bake or bake to get the crust to come out like yours.

I think I'm going to see how the "pure SD" goes with a lower percentage and a longer rise time tomorrow. I want to see if I can get something a little more springy. Otherwise, I think going with your hybrid method as above gets you the best of both worlds - SD flavors and big oven spring.

Bill

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I don't know Bill, I think Zolablue is a ringer. Can you believe how nice that crust looks. Everything she bakes is beautiful! I'm starting to get suspicious :0)

 

Eric

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Eric, that was too funny!  Big chuckles here.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Hey, I was in a pinch!  I am definately going to perfect the "pure SD" ciabatta but whenn you need bread you need bread.  Ok, here's what I did. 

I used the version from BBA that I modified for the "ciabatta challenge" and I pretended I had already made the poolish (in this case, levain) the night before so I dumped the following in a bowl.  I used 75 grams of my firm starter (that's a lot) and dissolved it in 12 ounces of water.  I then put my mixing bowl on my scale and proceeded to spoon in roughly (as I didn't measure) half bread flour and half artisan AP flour until the scale read 11.25 ounces, which is the amount of flour the poolish recipe wants.  I then added 4 rounded tablespoons of Hodgson Mill graham flour (for the fun of it).  I added the remaining 3 cups of flour the BBA recipe calls for but in the form of artisan AP rather than bread flour.  I dumped in roughly 4 teaspoons of kosher salt to add more for the extra flour in both the extra graham and the starter and to compensate for the fact that kosher salt needs to be almost doubled in a recipe calling for table salt.  I added 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast because I was too chicken to use 1/4 instead. Then I added water which I did not measure.  I splashed it into the bowl while mixing until it looked the way I wanted it to look.  Next time I will measure.  But that's all I did.

I had the dough mixed by 1:15 pm.  I folded the dough 4 times at the beginning in half hour increments and then let it rest the remainder of the bulk fermentation.  I did not let it quite double so was ready by roughly 4:45 to form the loaves (and buns).  I degassed the buns, btw, and formed as I didn't want to preserve the holes.  I let it ferment in the couche for about 2 hours.  I baked them at 450 for about 20 minutes and all was done start to finish in 6 hours.

That's desperation!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I see what you did. The breads came out nice. That's interesting that you can "degas" it back into a bun style crumb. I wouldn't have thought you could do that, but you learn something new everyday, especially when you're hanging around here. Check out my lower percentage version in the latest blog entry I did. I think there are a couple of things I could have done better, like press it down more (big hole in the middle was too big), use slightly less water (same reason), and stick with the KA organic AP that is so nice for this bread. However, although it has some mistakes that take away from it, I believe it was a step in the right direction for getting a good "all SD" ciabatta. For one thing, it definitely showed some oven spring umph. Also, the dough just felt better when I was handling it - nice and elastic, yet not horribly sticky.

Anyway, check it out - better yet, make one that really works. I know you can do it...

Bill

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