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Ciabatta challenge - BBA recipe

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zolablue's picture
zolablue

Ciabatta challenge - BBA recipe

There has been some discussion about problems with the BBA ciabatta recipe and not being able to achieve an open crumb.  I have tried this recipe 3 times with varying results based on changes I made but was still not able to get the crumb correct.  I'm a very new bread baker but this was the first recipe I made about two months ago.  Each time it had a very good flavor and I think its worthy of trying to find out if it is a flawed recipe or if those of us who've tried it are making some error. 

The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly, using the poolish version, and the bread looked beautiful but I when I cut into it my heart sank.  Very dense crumb.  I decided to make it the second time and add a bit more water to see if that was the problem.  Nope.  It did have slightly more open crumb but still very dense at least for ciabatta.  I went on an Internet search and found many posts on various websites noting the same problem.  So it must be the recipe, right?

Next, since I'd just purchased the wonderful Maggie Glezer book, Artisan Baking Across America for the Craig Ponsford ciabatta I made that recipe.  Great success, gorgeous bread and incredible open crumb.  The technique of folding the dough and the general handling of the dough throughout the fermentation was very different and I fell in love with those methods.  Ok, so next, not to be stumped, I decided to make the Reinhart recipe again (BBA) but this time using the handling of the dough instructions as in the Glezer/Ponsford ciabatta.  I was able to achieve a much more open crumb but only around the outside area of the bread while the interior was still too dense for ciabatta. 

So if anyone is interested to try this recipe and see what results are produced it might be fun.  I'd love to see if someone can actually solve the puzzle.  I am new to this forum and don't see a lot of recipes posted here so I'm not sure how to handle that part.  I do have the recipe typed so could someone let me know if I can post it here?  If someone has already made this successfully please let me know or if you've made it and also had the same problems, I'd like to know.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

Well, I haven't tried anything yet, but I did do a spreadsheet deconstruction of the two recipes for ciabatta (actually 3 recipes, because BBA has both poolish and biga versions).

First, the hydration is quite different in the two bba doughs, and it makes me wonder why. If you take the bba biga recipe, the hydration using 8 oz of water (it says 7-9) would give a total overall hydration of 77.45%, vs. Glezer's recipe at 80.52%. If you use the bba poolish recipe with 6 oz water, the hydration level is 72.5%, which seems too low for a ciabatta dough.

Then the mixing instructions between bba and Glezer are somewhat different. The instructions in bba for a mixer say to mix 5-7 minutes until dough is smooth and clears sides but stick to bottom. That may be a long initial mixing/kneading time relative to Glezer's approach. Also, I would have to go to the lower end of the range of hydration in the bba recipes, i.e. around 74%, to get the described cleaning behavior in my mixer. I find that up at around 78% hydration, there is no cleaning of the sides of the bowl in my mixer. Glezer would advocate an autolyse, very little initial mixing, and then use folding to develop the gluten.

I think one difference that may have a lot to do with (holes)/(not holes) in these recipes is whether you are working with a very wet dough. I think the ciabatta recipe in bba may not make enough of this point. It does say in a little side panel, "As you become comfortable with wet dough, you may want to try increasing the hydration and the stickiness of the dough. The wetter the better...", but the recipe is not totally clear how important that is to the eventual amount of big holes you get. The suggested amounts of water and description of the dough might lead to lower than needed hydration to really get the big holes to work.

Another difference is that there is a small amount of rye and whole wheat in the biga in the Glezer recipe. Also, she specifies all purpose flour where bba has more bread flour. I wonder if the lower protein content of the all purpose flour may help with bigger holes too. That would also explain the focus on lower amounts of initial mixing and more folding later.

Maybe the above differences help explain why bba seems not to have the hole production, unless you take the bba recipe and move toward much higher hydration, as suggested in the side panel - and maybe try lower protein flours.

If you have the time/inclination to comment, I'd be curious to know which bba ciabatta recipe you used and if you think different hydration, different mixing techniques, different flour, or something else may have caused the difference in texture between the bba and Glezer versions.

At some point, I'll have to try changing one variable at a time from bba ciabatta toward Glezer ciabatta. However, I would bet that just going significantly higher on the hydration would make a big difference.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

Well, the poolish bba ciabatta version had an overall hydration of only about 72.5% if I did the spreadsheet right, so I think if you added 2-2.5 ounces of water, it would be more or less equivalent in hydration to the Glezer recipe. An AP flour might be another thing to try. I think the lower protein content of the flour in the Glezer ciabatta might make it seem even more hydrated. I keep forgetting this is a yeast recipe in bba. I always make my sourdough focaccia dough (very similar to the bba poolish ciabatta dough, but with olive oil), using my starter in place of the poolish (I add a little rye, and I make it wetter than specified. Sounds like I drifted toward Glezer's version, right?)

In the biga version, it seemed like the hydration was much closer but still less than Glezer's version. Again, it had somewhat higher overall protein content specified, I believe.

What do you see as the dough handling differences between the two recipes? It seemed to me they both specify folding three times with slightly different schedules, but does that small difference matter much? Is there something else you see as a key difference in how to handle the mixing/kneading/folding? You mentioned handling the dough as something you liked in Glezer - could you elaborate?

Thanks, Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...to me, Bill, but remember how I misread the sourdough stuff.  LOL!  I'll post more later because I am actually making this bread today again with a few changes so we'll see if it matters.  If not, maybe I'll just let it go as I'm sure there are many other great ciabatta recipes out there.  I cannot stand not to be successful at something so this has been bugging me.

The Glezer ciabatta folds 4 times into a bundle over a longer period of time.  BBA stretches the dough further and does a tri-fold like a letter into a rectangle shape and sprays with oil.  Glezer doesn't use any oil in bowl or spraying on the dough.  The times of folding and resting are different. 

Oh, do you know that a poster on this site had made the BBA ciabatta but said they came out more like hoagies.  It just doesn't make sense so perhaps there is a typo in BBA and nobody has caught it. 

I'll let you know how this bread comes out.  Fingers crossed but I have a feeling it will not be right.  How's that from an eternal optimist!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

Interesting. I guess I read the same stuff and felt it shouldn't be much of a difference, but maybe you're right that those differences are more important than my first impression. I more or less figured that if you fold every half hour or every 20 minutes, it wouldn't matter too much, as long as you are building tension in the dough with the folding. I found that with bread flour and the lower hydration level, it was hard to stretch the dough from all four sides during the bba ciabatta or focaccia making process. In fact, it was somewhat hard to stretch the dough "by double" in the letter fold by the time you got to the last fold. I think this is an indication that a higher hydration might be needed.

I also would have thought that spraying some oil on each fold could contribute to the holes, as there would be places where there might be a tendency for the holes to form in the layers with oil between them. However, I didn't have that much luck with getting really big holes the last time I tried this, although mine wasn't a hoagie either.

By the way, did you add olive oil to the dough, as the bba says can be done "optionally"? I would think that could affect the consistency of the dough a lot, also.

Meanwhile, I'm refreshing my culture, and I will probably make a ciabatta recipe that is based on the poolish version of the bba ciabatta, but it will use "barm" for the poolish, try for a fairly wet dough (use 8-9 oz, instead of 6), and use KA "Italian style flour" for the final dough. The barm uses bread flour. I'll use the bba approach with letter folds, oil spray, and dusting. I'll probably drop in some rye for part of the flour. So, I know that isn't the actual recipe, but I've had in mind to try a version like this for a while, and I only have so much time. I guess it should be considered a hybrid of the bba and Glezer recipes in some ways.

Bill

 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I've made both the BBA and the ABAA ciabatta recipes and have more success with the Ponsford/Glezer version as well. A third recipe I use is from a class I took, so I'm not sure of the origin... It's final hydration percentage (poolish and final dough) is 61%, and it has 3 turns (every 45 minutes, with a toal 3.5 hour fermentation) . I've been playing around with ciabatta for a few months now and am starting to get a little better feel for it.

A few notes:

The ABAA recipes seems WAY wetter--it really is like a batter at the beginning, and I do my first few turns right in the bowl. After a couple of turns it starts to develop to a similar consistency as the NYT no knead "dough". By the last turn it can be downright stretchy--not stiff, but very very elastic. Remember in the description of ponsford's technique he is "bragging that his dough is actually lumpy" after the first mix. I took that to mean not to mix much at all, since the gluten is developing during the long fermentation and all those turns. On one test batch (can't remember which formula) I got distracted during mixing and let it go a bit longer than usual. I found that dough was way to stretchy early on, and I ended up with small holes. SO I think not overmixing at the beginning is important--and BBA has you mix a good 4-5 minutes (which isn't that long, but now I've been mixing just until it's all combined, maybe 2-3).

 

Also, from the ponsford/Glezer instructions, the instructions for handling and the final rests are really specific--ie don't handle much during cutting/shaping, and then before baking, you do the dimpling--and it says not to worry about handling the dough here. These techniques are slightly different and seem to be making a difference. Can't say why for sure though!

 

Finally, like Mountaindog, I've stopped using the higher-protein bread flours. MD has been using the King Arthur All Purpose, and I've been trying out the Gold Medal Harvest King, which is technically an AP flour as well, though it's used for artisan bread baking too.  I haven't gone back to make the BBA version with this flour yet--might make a difference.

 

Oh and I have played with using the levain as poolish, and this last time made a biga with a few Ts of my starter. I then use instant yeast for the final dough per the recipe. I think it adds a nice flavor, but so far I've gotten slightly smaller holes. For now I think it's a good compromise, but I'll keep trying to see if I can get the best of crumb and flavor!

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Really nice ciabatta, breadnerd.  You are right about all the instructions and I really think there is much to the Glezer/Ponsford method.  By the time I was ready to form the loaves I had a couple tennis ball sized bubbles in that dough!  Wow.  It was so much fun.

Interestingly, I used KA Artisan flour instead of bread flour in the main dough recipe.  I think that may be a big part of why it worked but also I think I doubled the water.  Chuckling here, because I was kind of proud of myself for entering the brave world of dough as pancake batter.  LOL.  But it really did work.  Stay tuned...and I'm glad to hear from you all on your experiences with this bread.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I'm pretty pumped right now.  I made a few changes to both the poolish and the recipe and the bread came out fabulous with great open crumb and absolutely delicous flavor!  How is the best way for me to post my results? Am I allowed to post the recipe I used since I combined things from two recipes to make it unique?  Again, I'm not sure about the protocol of posting recipes on this site.

I'm downloading the photos so I can show you the results - hope the photos came out ok.  Basically, I changed the flour for the poolish and the main dough and added a ton more water.  I need to get it all written down before I forget what I did.  I was busy all day yesterday baking bread, cooking soup and making dessert so I haven't recorded the recipe yet.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

ZB - as per Floyd, recipes are OK to post as long as you sort of paraphrase them and credit the sources - don't list them verbatim, besides, it's nice to see your own notes on what you did specifically - your own take on the recipe. Look forward to your pics...

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I added a few misc. ciabatta photos in one place for some visual comparisons :)

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2130

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I agree that the hint about not mixing much in the early going is a significant difference in the abaa recipe. I think that several things can lead to quite a different result in the bba early mixing instructions: 1) The hydration of the poolish version looks like it is only 72%, which w/KA bread flour (at least when I do this) it does not result in a very wet dough. 2) The mixing instructions say 5-7 minutes, so if you use a medium speed for more like 7 minutes, it's a lot different from 5 minutes at the slowest speed, especially if you add flour trying to get it to "clean the sides but not the bottom". 3) It says to look for the dough to clean the sides and not the bottom, which if I find I'm adding a fair amount of flour to get it to do that w/my mixer - so it might even be 65% or less hydration once you do that.

So, I think I may go for a short, slowest speed mixing time in the early going, as well, when I try a ciabatta in a couple of days.

So, the differences from bba that I'll try w/my next version will be 1) KA Italian style flour 2) 2-3 more oz water to get up toward 80% hydration, 3) short mixing time at slow speed. 4) substitute bba style "barm" for poolish. 5) Ignore "cleaning sides, not bottom" instructions. 6) About 2oz of the dough flour will be "KA rye blend".

When I've just done a "barm" version of the poolish recipe, I got holes of varying sizes, but they weren't as big as the prototypical pictures I've seen, as in breadnerd's photos or zolablue's photos for the abaa recipe.

All else, I'll try to keep same as bba.

Sylviambt's picture
Sylviambt

Hi all,

I've had mixed results with the few BBA recipes I've been working on: really good for the ciabatta - big holes, great oven spring, great crust and taste.  I've used both the poolish and biga formula and found more consistent success with the biga.

I've had lots less success with the Pain a l' ancienne. But, again, tips from bakers on this website have helped me keep hydration high, mix less, and treat the dough more gently -- all of which have helped me improve with these baguettes as well (still a long way to go).

I think the bread's improved for two reasons:

- I moved to wetter doughs - didn't try to clear the sides of the bowl as initially instructed, and, subsequently achieve hydration that more closely approximates the formula, and 

- I mixed less prior to the bulk fermentation.  

So, are many of you finding that bba instructs us to mix too long?  I'm still new enough at this that I'm really unsure.

Also, I found long mixing to be a constant requirement in Beranbaum's "Bread Bible."  Any insights out there?

Sylvia

"snowed in and happily baking in western Wisconsin"

 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Sylviambt, I'm very impressed if you got the BBA recipe to work and that you achieved the open crumb.  Are you saying that worked best for you on the biga though or did it actually work with both versions?  I was so tempted yesterday to stick with Reinhart's exact formula for the dough and the handling but add more water as the change.  But then I just could not make myself do it.  I was so afraid of spending all this time and effort and getting the same incorrect result again.

Oddly, the Pain a l'Ancienne is the one that was the easiest for me but I did screw it up really badly one time.  Generally, I think I had beginners luck but the second time I mixed the heck out of that dough and at a too high speed I now believe.  It took HOURS longer to raise and the dough never did look right.  When I baked it the taste was still fabulous but the crumb was more dense.  I'm glad I figured out because it is my neighbors' favorite so I like to bake it for them now.  Oh, and I discovered that medium speed for mixing bread dough is not the medium speed on my mixer! :o)

Sylviambt's picture
Sylviambt

Hi Zolablue,

It's frustrating how variable the results can be.  Tells me I've got lots to learn about the principles of baking.

BTW, what kind of stand mixer do you use?  And what are you finding out about the speed.  Is your mixer's medium speed slower or faster than what's asked for in the book?

Sylvia

in search of the perfect crust and crumb

firepit's picture
firepit

Zolablue et. al. -

I'll be weighing in with another data point later tonight. I've been trying various recipes from the BBA, and built the poolish for ciabatta yesterday. Tonight I'm going to finish it up. Based on the info in this thread, though, I'm going to add at least 2 oz. more water, and I'll be using AP flour (the poolish is bread flour, so I'll be at about a 50-50 mix of bread and AP). I'll also avoid over-mixing, but other than that, I plan to follow the recipe as closely as I can...we'll see what happens.

 

Also, like Sylvia I'm intrigued by your "medium speed" comment. Please elaborate...

zolablue's picture
zolablue

To answer both Sylviambt and Firepit, I have a Kitchenaid Artisan mixer, which I think is not supposed to be optimum for mixing bread dough.  Although I love it (its purple…hehe) when I purchased it a couple years ago I had no idea I’d ever be baking bread.   It seems to be doing a really good job for me however.

 

About the speed, my mixer goes up to speed 10 so, naturally I was flapping all those doughs around my mixer bowl on speed 5 which I assumed was medium and even cranked it up to 6 & 7 when a recipe called for high.  I can’t find where I read this (I think it was in Glezer so if someone knows, please give me the page) that low, medium, and high speeds translate to 1, 2, & 3.  Very different that what I had done.  LOL.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue and other's who've chimed in on this,

 Used 9 oz water, 10.5 oz AP, 3 oz rye blendModified BBA poolish ciabatta: Used 9 oz water, 10.5 oz AP, 3 oz rye blend

 Used 9 oz water, 10.5 oz AP, 3 oz rye blend Modified BBA Poolish Ciabatta: Used 9 oz water, 10.5 oz AP, 3 oz rye blend

 Uses Barm for poolish, 9 oz water (82% hydration), 10.5 oz KA Organic AP, 3 oz KA Rye Blend, low mixing, lots of foldingCiabatta BBA poolish modified: Uses Barm for poolish, 9 oz water (82% hydration), 10.5 oz KA Organic AP, 3 oz KA Rye Blend, low mixing, lots of folding

I took a shot at this as described in the earlier post, although I ended up trying KA Organic AP 10.5 oz and KA rye blend for 3 oz in the final dough. I used BBA style barm in place of the poolish, which uses KA bread flour.

I used 9 oz of water and mixed only two minutes on slowest speed on my Kitchen-Aid mixer. It was very wet, and I had some problems, as I probably mistakenly made the flour bed from the AP flour. I realize that in the past I've made the bed of flour with KA bread flour, which seems not to stick to the dough as much.

I also found I had to do more of a Glezer/Hamelman "bundle" fold, as the letter fold did not seem to stretch this very hydrated version of the BBA poolish dough enough. I probably was even more extreme in that the sourdough poolish would reduce the strength of the bread flour gluten, and I'm using AP/rye for the rest, so it needed 3 bundle folds to really tighten up, which I did about every 40 minutes. The total rise time of the bulk fermentation was about 3.5 hours.

I also couldn't resist doing some dimpling as in Glezer just to see what that does. I'm not sure I liked doing that. I may have let the dough rise too long in the final proof, as the dough did not bounce back from the dimples as much as I would have liked.

I had problems with my bed of AP flour getting stuck as a kind of cakey crust on the dough, so I sprayed some oil on the dough a few times to try to loosen it up and get it to incorporate into the dough.

Anyway I posted some of the photos of the process on the web.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Your bread looks fabulous!  I love your progress photos - I vow every time I bake to do this and I must with this recipe next time.  It was very interesting, to say the least and had me chuckling quite a lot.  I finally got my photos downloaded so let me see if I can figure out how to post them in the thread.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

It looks great--this is a fun thread, lots of experimentation!

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Beautiful Zola-can't wait to try this recipe.

Trish

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Note I used only KA flour and did not measure by scale because I’m waiting for my replacement scale so the accuracy of measurements will not be the same.  I made the following revisions.   

Poolish recipe – Copyright Peter Reinhart, BBA 

2 1/2 cups - unbleached bread flour

1 1/2 cups - water, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon - instant yeast

 

Stir together the flour, water, and yeast in a mixing bowl until all of the flour is hydrated.  The dough should be soft and sticky and look like very thick pancake batter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, or until the sponge becomes bubbly and foamy.  Immediately refrigerate it.  It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

  

Zolablue’s revisions on poolish (noted with asterisks): 

1 1/4 cups - unbleached bread flour*

1 1/4 cups – KA organic select artisan AP flour*

1 1/2 cups - water, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon - instant yeast

  

Dough recipe – Copyright Peter Reinhart, BBA 

3 1/4 cups - poolish
3 cups - unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoons - salt
1 1/2 teaspoons - instant yeast
6 tablespoons to 3/4 cup - water (or substitute milk or buttermilk for all or part of the water, lukewarm (90° to 100°F)

Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

  

Zolablue’s revisions on dough (noted with asterisks): 

3 1/4 cups - poolish
3 cups – KA organic select artisan AP flour*
1 3/4 teaspoons - salt
1 1/2 teaspoons - instant yeast
1 1/2 cups – water, lukewarm (90° to 100°F)*

  

To make the bread - Copyright Peter Reinhart, BBA…excerpted 

Remove the poolish from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough to take off the chill.


To make the dough, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the poolish and 6 tablespoons of the water. With a large metal spoon (or on low speed with the paddle attachment), mix until the ingredients form a sticky ball. If there is still some loose flour, add the additional water as needed and continue to mix.  

If you are using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough.  Switch to the dough hook for the final 2 minutes of mixing.  The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl.  You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.

 

 

I followed the entire mixing process for BBA and then I tossed the rest of his instructions and used the Glezer book, Ponsford ciabatta recipe instructions basically as follows:

 

…excerpted from Artisan Baking Across America, copyright Maggie Glezer: 

This is a very soft dough.  If your dough is not really gloppy, add extra water until the dough is soft enough to spread (your flour might be old or absorbing more water for a variety of reasons). 

FERMENTING AND TURNING THE DOUGH:  Scrape the dough into a container at least 3 times its size and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let it ferment until light, well expanded, and about doubled in bulk, 2 1/2  to 3 hours.  Turn the dough** (see below), using plenty of flour for dusting 3 or 4 times in 20-minute intervals, that is, after 20, 40, 60, and 80 minutes of fermenting, then leave the dough undisturbed for the remaining time.  You will be amazed at how the dough firms up during the turning.

 

CUTTING, SHAPING, AND PROOFING THE DOUGH:  Lightly but thoroughly flour a couche or heavily flour 2 tea towels.  Flour the top of the dough and the work surface, then turn the dough out.  With a dough scraper, cut the dough approximately in half.  Gently stretch the pieces out and fold them loosely into thirds, like a business letter, arranging the folds so the last seam is slightly off center.  Try to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid deflating it.  Place the loaves seam side down on the floured cloth and sprinkle more flour over the top.  Cover them with folds of the couche or more tea towels.  Let them proof until they are very soft, well expanded, and barely spring back when gently pressed, about 45 minutes.

 

PREHEATING THE OVEN:  Immediately after shaping the dough arrange a rack on the oven’s second-to-top shelf and place a baking stone on it.  Clear away all racks above the one being used.  Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

 

BAKING THE BREAD:  When the ciabatte are ready to bake, place a sheet of parchment paper on a peel.  Gently flip the loaves onto it so that they are seam side up and stretch them very slightly to make them vaguely rectangular.  Don’t be afraid to handle the dough; the breads will recover in the oven as long as you are gentle.  Dimple the dough all over with your fingertips, pressing down to the paper without breaking through the dough.  Slide the breads on the parchment paper onto the baking stone.  Bake the breads until very, very dark brown all around, for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating them halfway into the bake.  Let cool on a rack.

  

**TURNING:  This is the term preferred by professionals for a step more commonly known as “punching down the dough.”  Its purpose is not to degas the dough but to develop the gluten by folding the dough.  Professional bakers turn their doughs to minimize the amount of mixing necessary, while still achieving really thorough gluten development. (Excessive mixing bleaches the flour’s color and degrades the flavor.)

 

The dough can be turned from  one to five times during fermentation, but figure that the dough will need at least 15 minutes between turns and about 30 minutes after the last one to relax adequately before being shaped.

 

To turn the dough, sprinkle the top of the dough and the work surface with flour, then scrape the dough out of its rising container and onto the floured work surface.  Sprinkle the dough with flour again, then gently spread the dough out, trying not to deflate bubbles.  Fold it up into a tight bundle by folding the left side into the center, followed by the top, the right side, and the bottom.  Turn the dough over so that the smooth side is up, and fold it in half again if it still feels loose.  Place it, smooth side up, back into the rising container, and cover it tightly.

  
bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I'm wondering how much water you ended up actually using in the dough. I'm guessing you did not go all the way up to 1.5 cups of water, or did you actually add that much? I was not getting the behavior in my mixer that is described even at 9 oz. I would have had to add more flour to get any cleaning of the sides at all in my case. It's hard to compare, as I was using barm for poolish, so that will really change the amount of water to get the dough to be similar. Anyway, I'm curious to try to put a finger on the factors that matter the most.

If you had to say, what changes do you think were critical to the difference you got? Firepit seems to have added water and AP, yet feels the result wasn't the same. Maybe firepit could comment on what other factors might be important.

Bill

firepit's picture
firepit

Hmmm...For starters, I haven't made the strict BBA version, but from what I understand, it's coming out a bit dense for the people that do. The recipe I tried was a middle ground between the BBA and ZB's recipes, and, perhaps not surprisingly, the bread turned out somewhere between dense and ZB's amazing loaves.

So, looking at what I did and comparing it to ZB's recipe, I see up to four potentially important differences:

1) Zolablue used a 50/50 mix of bread and AP flour in the poolish. My poolish was all bread flour, so my final ratio of AP to bread flour in the dough was roughly 50/50 and ZB's was closer to 80/20. Perhaps ciabatta just wants a bit less protein.

2) I used 8 oz. of water when making the dough, and started the the folding process with a /very/ slack dough. It wasn't even thinking about clearing the sides of the bowl when I was done mixing. I'm not sure how much water ZB wound up using, but perhaps even more would have been better for me.

3) I followed the BBA's fermentation and folding instructions, which are quite a bit different from ZB's - ZB's version has a long fermentation followed by several turns at the end, I performed a few folds at the start followed by a shorter fermentation.

4) I am me, and ZB is ZB. I suspect there is a reasonable skill difference between us, and when it comes down to it, that could be a critical difference, too. :) ...seriously, just knowing how to handle the dough and when it needs an extra turn or a little more time to ferment can be key, and I'll freely admit that I just don't have that kind of comfort level yet. ...but this website is sure helping.

Of those differences, I suspect that 1, 3 and 4 are the most important, and I have control over 1 and 3. My plan is to give ZB's version a try this weekend and see how it goes.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Firepit,

I interpreted the Glezer fermentation/folding instructions differently from what I think I read in your #3. I read it as do a total fermentation of 2.5 to 3 hours, and turn it at 20, 40,60,80 minutes into the fermentation, then let it go for remaining time. If so, that doesn't seem quite as different as what you did, although a little different. If what you do is wait until the end of the 2.5-3 hours and then do the 20,40,60,80 that is an interesting difference.

My dough did spread out and was gloppy as described in the Glezer instructions. It did not clear the sides at all.

Bill

 

firepit's picture
firepit

It appears that is misread ZB's post...reading it again, it looks like folding at 20 minute intervals for the first 80 minutes, then allowing the dough to ferment undisturbed, as you suggest. Makes more sense that way, too.

So the folding wasn't all that different, but Glezer's version does have /more/ folding, and at closer time intervals, than the BBA version does.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

BBA wants you to really stretch that dough - and look at his photos - they stretch that dough way out.  Then they do the letter fold in thirds.  Then he leaves it on the counter to rest and the time is much shorter.

Glezer's turning method turns the dough onto the counter without all that stretching rather she states "gently spread" and I don't spread much at all and I definately don't stretch it.  Then you basically make your bundle, which is a four-fold instead of a tri-fold.  Mine always looks much more rounded than bwraiths but that shouldn't matter.  Then return to the bowl each time which must push the dough...? Am I saying that right?

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

OK, I think I can picture how you were doing it. Yes, you're right that I probably did stretch it more than you did. However, to get the dough to become tighter, I felt like I had to stretch it, and I also did it not only letter style but from four corners. Maybe I went too far with the stretching and got too tight of a dough. It did firm up quite a bit after my last folding. It was quite resilient before I let it continue to ferment. I did let it ferment for too long, I think. I didn't really follow the schedule in the recipe, as I've found the sourdough version just takes longer to rise.  However, I think I went a little too long. The total fermentation was about 3.5 hours in my case.

I always seem to have trouble getting my act together to get the folds done so frequently. My folds were more like 45 minutes to an hour apart, just from being distracted w/pictures, phone calls, gas company visit, whatever. So, I'll just have to get really focused and do them every 20-30 minutes and do a little shorter fermentation and see what happens.

After all this discussion, I'm beginning to think that if I put the dough in a bowl, shorten up the stretching schedule and maybe not be quite so stretchy with it, that it might do the trick. I won't get a chance to bake for a while, unfortunately. However, in a couple of weeks if the thread is still going, I'll try again and see what happens.

Thanks again for all the details. Very interesting to think about.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Firepit,

Yes, I agree that there is definitely something to how the dough is handled, and I'm certainly not very comfortable with that either. I've had much better luck w/whole wheat breads after learning to use less mixing, more hydration, and folding techniques on this site. Obviously, there are interesting handling issues with this wet ciabatta dough that are hard to know exactly how to do and require some skill and experience. For example, I was intrigued by the dimpling described in Glezer, which seems like what's done to spread out a focaccia, a very similar dough. I probably need to look around for a video of the handling of the ciabatta dough, if such a thing exists.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

…not at the end.  I did find that also confusing the first time I read it but the first fold starts at the end of the first 20 minutes of autolyse.  The folding is the only way you are going to get the dough to firm.  It is an amazingly fun thing to watch.  After you have folded the dough a total of 4 times at 20 minute intervals you then allow the dough to rest the remaining period of time for a total of 2 1/2 - 3 hours.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

and, believe me, I had a puddle about 15 - 17 inches wide!  I just tossed out that stuff Reinhart writes about how the dough looks in the bowl because it never works for me.  He mentions to add more flour if the dough looks too slack but I always think I need more water - never more flour. In comparing with the Glezer recipe (that I believe is foolproof) I decided to use the AP flour and then when I received the artisan flour - even better.  As for the amount of water, and not sure it needs that level to get the open crumb, I just wanted to go for it and add a larger amount of water and it does compare with the water in the Glezer recipe.

I could not have folded that dough without my big plastic bowl scraper.  It made the job easy.  The hardest part was getting that bundle back into the bowl to autolyse.  I did four turns and then let it sit for about the 2 1/2 hour period.   It was amazing the bubbles that were created in that dough and I really don't know why.  It started as a puddle of thick pancake batter consistency in the bottom of that large bowl to rising way over the top of the bowl.  It is really something to witness how the turning method firms up the dough and rather quickly, even though my dough had been very, very wet.  The hardest part for me was getting the bundle back into the bowl because I have such small hands.

I'm too new at this to understand which thing made the ultimate difference - flour or water or both. I just read something interesting in the Glezer book.  She is talking about flour protein and quality and says that flour with a range of 11% to 11.5% protein is safe, but flour with more than 12% protein creates problems.  For ARTISAN bakers, 11% to 11.5% protein is the most frequently specified range, and most of the bakers included in this book try to stay within it.  And that home bakers using grocery-store flour have to combine their bread flour which is too high in protein, with all-purpose flour, which is too low, to get within this range.  But some other flours, such as King Arthur all-purpose flour, are already in that protein range.

King Arthur bread flour - 12.7%

King Arthur AP - 11.7%

King Arthur Select Artisan AP - 11.3%

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I didn't imagine you could get another few ounces into it and still work with it at all. I'm somehow not confident that I could do it. However, I'll have to give it a try next time. I think you have to go to putting back in the bowl, as I already had problems using a bed of flour even with only 9 oz of water added.

I could see that maybe staying away from the bed of flour might have helped anyway, even without the added water.

Thanks for the further detail.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

The instructions in Glezer are to return to the bowl - this would never have worked without doing that.  I even had to make another fold under when placing it in the bowl because it was so slack.  But note her instructions say to do this in the cases where the dough is very loose.  It works!

bwraith, I'm certainly no expert and I've only been baking bread for a couple months but just go for it.  That dough is simply a huge pile of silly putty for adults!  I've learned that even when really wet it is very controllable because it is so elastic by its nature.  A little flour, a big scraper and a lot of counter space and voila - you can handle that dough and become master of its domain. :o)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

That's beautiful. I wish I was a better photographer. Any hints, given I'm more or less stuck with a Sony cybershot?

Your bread looks just great. I think your crumb came out better than mine. However, maybe using the heavy amount of sourdough starter, as I was doing, kills the gluten. It might be that I would do better using bread flour to compensate. However, I will say that my bread disappeared quickly, with lots of comments about the nice flavor of the bread, which I think may be the sourdough in it.

I guess my bread came out right on the outside after seeing your pictures. I was thinking that maybe my outside crust had a problem from the issues I'd had with the flour sticking to them. However, they don't look all that different form your results, so I guess it's about what I should expect.

It also seems like I did not bake them as dark, as I didn't follow the Glezer instructions there. However, I think mine did come out slightly underbaked, though the internal temp was around 207 when I took them out. I think I might let them get right up close to 210.

So, really, really nice, Zolablue. I learned a lot doing this. Thanks for all the ideas and for getting my attention on the Glezer book. It's a great book, I have to agree.

Bill

firepit's picture
firepit

 

On my end, things went relatively well, but the bread isn't nearly as beautiful as Zolablue's. I got a few large holes, but more in line with bwraith's crumb than Zolablue's. So it seems like adding more water and and switching to AP flour are part of the equation, but maybe not the entire solution... Next weekend I'll try Zolablue's recipe and see if it all comes together (or if Zolablue just has a magic touch).

The good news is that it tastes great, and both loaves will be gone by tomorrow night (not bad since there are only two people in the house and they weren't done until 11 last night). When you find yourself planning your meals around the bread, you must have done something right.

Also, thanks for the mixing tip Zolablue. My pain a l'ancienne has been turning out denser than I'd like and I have hunch I've been kneeding too long. Now I think I'm probably kneeding too fast, too. I can't wait to experiment some more...

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Firepit,

Just wondering what recipe you used when you did your version. Did you adhere strictly to one of the two recipes, or how did you modify your version? I'm really curious what people have tried and how it affected the result.

Thanks, Bill

firepit's picture
firepit

Sorry, Bill. At one point my response had that info, and then I guess for some reason I edited it out before posting. No idea why.

I was working from the poolish version in the BBA. I started by making the poolish itself exactly as prescribed.

When I went on to make the dough I modified the BBA recipie by:
1) Using 8 ounces of water instead of the recommended 3-6
2) Using AP flour instead of bread flour
...I was also careful to not over-mix (about 3 minutes in my KitchenAid stand mixer w/ the paddle attachment, followed by one more minute with the dough hook.). The result was more of a thick batter than a dough, and not completely smooth. I was pretty nervous about working with it, but as others have noted, a few folds later, it was tightening up nicely.

Other than those changes, I followed the BBA recipe closely, with the one other change being the addition of one more folding of the dough along the way since it was so slack to begin with. (...and my folds were a bit of a mix between Reinhart's and Glezer's instructions - stretching the dough, then folding it into thirds, rotating 90 degrees and doing it again).

Perhaps next time around I'll remember to pull out my camera before I start working and document the process. I found your pictures very helpful, and it seems like having at least a temporary store of images may also help to diagnose problems after the fact, if needed...

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I agree this is really good bread.  I'm always trying to get my husband to tell me if he has a favorite. He always tells me he loves them all but, without my prompting, he told me this is the best bread so far. I do agree it was very delicous and it did taste better than before.

That said, I am still leaning towards the Acme French bread as my favorite - hard to say - but that bread, again Glezer's book, is fantastic. I wish I could bottle a perfume made of the scent of that raw dough. LOL. I'm not sure what it is but the scent is heavenly. Still this ciabatta was really, really good.

Firepit, you will see a big difference if you cut your mixing time and speed. Where did I read about how the gluten strands are finally destroyed with too much heavy mixing - maybe BBA. And your dough just loses its ability to work properly. I'm sure he said that much better.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I was messing around w/my mixed flour miche and put a piece of the ciabatta in there for fun.

Ciabatta BBA poolish, substitute barm, higher hydrationCiabatta BBA poolish, substitute barm, higher hydration

firepit's picture
firepit

Today I baked Zolablue's recipe using 10 ounces of water, but other than that, trying to be as faithful as I could...more AP flour and more folding than my last batch. The results? Not a whole lot different than my first attempt. A few larger holes, and the bread still tastes wonderful, but not the fantastic crumb that ZB created.

 

So perhaps it's the extra 2 ounces of water...but I suspect it's as much about the skills. That dough was about as slack as I could possibly manage to work with, I can't imagine adding any more water...and based on the trouble I had shaping the final loaves, I'm guessing that I could have probably used another turn or two to tighten things up a bit.

 

Oh well, it tastes great and there's always next weekend, so I'm not too upset.

 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...that's for sure.  :o)  If I can do it, so can you.  I don't really think I needed as much water as I used but I was so frustrated with that recipe I wanted to go to the other extreme to ensure I'd get a better result.  Now I'm not sure at all just how high it would be necessary to go with the amount of water.  I really doubt the extra couple ounces would be "the" thing.

Did you make sure to sprinkle a good amount of flour on top of your dough, as well as on the counter. before turning it out of the bowl?  Then did you make sure to put the dough back into the bowl for the next autolyse?  I think that is imperative on this type of recipe.

At least it tasted great - i agree, its good bread!

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

Sorry for the late post but i discovered something very interesting this weeked. I use the Glezer/Ponsford recipe/process and have for a long time. It works great. it works so well that it has become my default dough for not only ciabatta but also for baguettes and for pizza. It was pizza that made me see something. 

 

i made a double recipe of dough and formed two ciabattas and was going to reserve the rest of the dough for pizzas later that night. I just  put the rest of the dough  back in the covered bowl and left it to sit out in the Kitchen (at about 70-75 degrees F). It sat there and worked for about an additional six hours. It really rose up ... maybe tripled again. I was worried that it might have over risen but it didn't. As pizza it was wonderful and the crusts were what everyone wants in a ciabatta ... very good hole structure. So ... I think one of the strategies is to not be afraid of letting the first proof really rise. With such a wet dough, the fermentation can go on for a long time.

 

 

Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

Undomiel's picture
Undomiel

I realize this topic is old, but I noticed it when I was making Reinhart's ciabatta. I'd already made a poolish according to the book's instructions but right after that I read this discussion and did some adjustments: used AP flour and added more water (for the halved recipe). It turned out fairly well, but as a novice I'm easy to please. Thanks for the tips, from now on I'll be checking opinions on the recipe before trying it out.

CoveredInFlour's picture
CoveredInFlour

I wish I had seen this thread before I started my BBA Ciabatta today.


I will not pretend that I understand much of what's been written here, but *do* know that right now as I'm in the middle of my 30 minute rest after the first fold that something is wrong with my dough. It's stiff and firm, no where near what the pictures in the book or the description talks about. I followed the recipe to the letter, took the poolish out an hour before to warm it up. I used the hand method, coating my hand with water as I mixed but it's not loose and shaggy at all, more firm and rock like.


Reading how the crumb is not open and holey when others don't have this problem has made me think twice about this recipe.