The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Netvet007's picture

Good day to bake

April 14, 2013 - 11:49am -- Netvet007

It is snowing here in Minnesota in mid-April. Good day to bake bread.  I made the  Coccodrillo Ciabatta recipe from TFL with the 100% hydration dough.  I also made the whole wheat boule from Hammelman's Bread book.  Really happy with the loaves.  Crumb was divine on the Ciabatta and I hope the crumb will be good on the whole wheat loaf as well.  (Will not cut into it until tomorrow.)

eve_y_chen's picture

HELP ! My Ciabatta is always ending up with a dense crumb on the bottom of the loaf

March 22, 2013 - 3:41pm -- eve_y_chen


Ive tried four times this week already to make ciabattas but I always seem to end up with something like this, a loaf with a very dense crumb on the bottom, 

The ciabatta in the photo above I used 90% hydration with a poolish

Alpana's picture

My breads are bipolar. One day they are soft, white & enriched, made in BM, cut into neat slices with help of a slicing guide, and exactly what kids' order and on another day they are made fully by hand, using any combination of flours that strikes my fancy, chock-a-block with seeds, nuts, dried fruits, meats, cheese and almost anything I like. I think I must be really going overboard with my bells & whistles as my husband sweetly told me yesterday that he loves all the breads which I make, but for one day could I make a simple crusty bread, without any seeds, nuts, et al. Hmm...

So I started rummaging through the tomes lying on my bed to select one that would have minimum ingredients. I realised that I have not made Ciabatta till now, so bread for the day will be just that. How many additions can ciabatta have? I short listed Jason's ciabatta from TFL, PR's ciabatta with poolish, JH's ciabatta with biga & Jim Lahey's ciabatta. But then I saw JH's Ciabatta with olive oil and toasted wheatgerm. Great! Just two more additions should keep me happy and not come to hubby's notice. 

JH's recipe uses poolish. I had ripe levain of almost same quantity that of poolish. Both had equal hydration, so I decided to use levain in place of poolish. I kept the rest same as per recipe, but mixed by hand. I was not very happy with the hydration of the dough. So I went ahead and increased from 72% to around 85%. Once it became a gloopy mess, I was satisfied. Did 3 s&f in first 30 minutes and refrigerated the dough for overnight bulk ferment. Today morning allowed it to come to room temp & rise fully. It took just about 1 hour (tropics!). Quickly shaped the best as I could, put on parchment paper & covered with tea towel. The second proof was around 30 minutes. Baked at 460F on pizza stone for first 20 minutes, using foil container to cover (thanks to Floyd's tip) and then uncoverd it & baked for another 20 minutes at 440F.

This is the result :


Though my shaping skills are deplorable, the bread tasted awesome. The toasted wheatgerm was so much there yet not in your face and the EVOO left a nice aftertaste. The bread got torn into and demolished in no time. Made a ham sandwich with peri peri mayo for kids & for once they didn't ask why the bread was not soft & neatly sliced :)

yy's picture

Just after the new year, I had a delicious pan con tomate served on pan de cristal at a tapas restaurant. I wanted to give this bread a shot at home. Its properties are unique - the crust is shatteringly thin, and the crumb is so airy it barely exists at all. Prior to serving, it is toasted until crispy. Though its structure resembles that of a rustic ciabatta, it is not chewy but light and crisp.

After consulting this extensive post on TFL, I decided to use Hamelman's ciabatta with stiff biga formula , increasing the hydration to 80% and beating the slack dough with the paddle attachment until the smooth windowpane stage.  I elected to use the stiff biga version instead of the poolish version of  ciabatta because I thought that the extra protease activity would be counterproductive to creating the lofty structure of an already-slack dough.

Here are the loaves, which were cut and gingerly stretched out to long, thin rectangles:

The loaves took almost an hour to brown at 460 F. I flipped them over twenty minutes into the bake to get a more even crust on both sides. One of the longer, wider loaves tried to escape from my flipping board and ended up deformed. I would have liked more browning, but I was concerned that the crust would become too thick and hard.

Here is the crumb:

There are hints of potential in these loaves. Below is a cherry-picked sample of the part of the crumb that comes closest to what pan de cristal should be:

Most of the crumb was much denser. There were several shortcomings of this bake:

  • The crust was too hard and thick, which is made worse by toasting. Let's just say that my molars are well-polished. I wonder whether it would be better not to flip the loaves during the bake, and to simply cut off and discard the thick bottom crust that contacts the baking stone prior to serving. It is also possible that there was not enough steam in the oven. I might also try increasing the baking temperature to 500 and shaping thinner loaves so that they bake more quickly.
  • the crumb was not open enough. I think the intensive mix may have contributed to this. Next time, I might try more stretching and folding, combined with a slightly lower hydration - perhaps 75%. 
  • The flavor was quite bland. The reluctant browning was the first hint that the loaves would turn out this way.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the bread with roasted bone marrow, piquillo peppers and manchego cheese. It's surprising how difficult it is to find authoritative information about pan de cristal online. If any TFLers have inside information about how to reproduce it, please do share!

MTK's picture

Ciabatta with Jason's recipe

January 1, 2013 - 1:29pm -- MTK

Hi everybody.I had a try on ciabatta the day before yesterday. I use the recipe from Jason's recipe and follow some procedures of txfarmer's blog. I made some adjustments to the  process. 

Here are the adjustments:

1.After mixing with my KitchenAid mixer, I made 3 stretch and fold at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes.

2.After stretch and fold, I kept the dough into the refridgerator overnight. 

Here is the recipe:

500g bread flour 

475g (~2 cups) water

2 tsp. yeast 

15g salt

frenchcreek baker's picture


October 25, 2012 - 4:23pm -- frenchcreek baker

Hello bakers,

The HAINS HOUSE is offering 3-day Artisan Bread Baking Workshops. 

If you are looking for a bread get-away or maybe a nice baking gift for someone, this workshop at a farm B&B could be perfect.

Classes will be offered NOVEMBER 2-4th, 2012; JANUARY 25-27th, 2013, and FEBRUARY 22-24TH, 2013.

Pat has an Italian wood-fired Valoriani Oven in a beautiful, tranquil setting. The course includes lodging and all meals.

dabrownman's picture

Never give up!

It has been a while since we last made a white bread that didn’t have some outlandish concoction of ingredients to make it healthier than your average slimy white slice.  So we toned this one down as it is meant for the wife’s daily bag lunch.


She is more traditional in her love of Oroweat Whole Wheat Bread to contain her sandwich fillings but we also wanted a bread that we could be sure to deliver some real whole grain goodness, wheat taste, extra light sourdough flavor, not too sweet, a soft, moist, yellowish, open crumb and a nice dark brown chewy crust once the bread cooled.

We hoped that our whole grain combination yeast water and sourdough starter in conjunction with soft white wheat (home ground), durum atta and WWW and the semolina, wheat germ, malts, bread and AP flour in the dough would provide what we were looking to get bread wise at the end of the day.


A little honey would supply a hint of sweetness and the whole soft white wheat berry soaker would supply some extra crumb texture and bite that we like so much.  We also used some yogurt whey water, from earlier Greek yogurt making this week, for part of the liquid trying to enhance the sour taste.  All together it is a simple white bread easily prepared that is fun to; make, bake, admire and devour.  


This was the original move from bamboo couche to the floured basket - not horrible so far.  Then 4 hours later in the fridge the whole time..... and the oven wasn't even preheated .......

This is a fine everyday eater and we got what we mostly desired along with a great wheat taste.  We were surprised how balanced the taste was between wheat and sour. We loved it crumb color too.   It is delicious bread that is perfect for everyday lunch sandwiches of all kinds.

We also got to use our bamboo double barrel batard couche that has been unloved for some time but we only used one barrel for this1,126 gloaf that is 35% whole grains, 74% hydration and where the levain is 30% of the total weight except……..

That is not what happened!

Well, that was the way it was supposed to be.  After shaping and loading the bread in the bamboo couche, it proved to be too small, so I switched it too a larger batard shaped woven basket lined with a rice flour coated towel and chucked it into the plastic bag and right into the fridge after reshaping for the 18 hr retard.  There was no proofing on the counter.

When I checked it in 4 hrs, right before bed time, this thing had exploded out of the basket like the Nile in full Spring Flood!  It might have been over proofed – a heck of a lot!  Immediately we fired up big old Betsy since this blob wasn’t going into the mini and got 2 of Sylvia’s steaming pans going for the 40 minute warm up.

When pre heat was over the dough was really loose and still spreading.  I overturned it onto parchment and a peel and scored it, why I don’t know since it was already spreading like a ciabatta and scoring only made it worse.  By the time I got it into the oven, throwing another 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the oven as the door slammed, it was only 1” high and a full 10”wide.

It sprang great to almost 3” high before settling back to 2 ½” in height.  It was late by the time it cooled and was wrapped.  I’m guessing the yogurt water, inconjunction with the honey and the (2) malts enzyme action had something to do with making this dough look like a meth crazed, whack job on steroids.  Never had a dough go berserk while in the fridge for retarding after shaping before.  I didn’t have a clue anything was wrong until I checked on it at the 4 hr mark.  The method that follows is the one that should have been.

I got a fairly nice badly scored ciabatta out of what was supposed to be a sandwich loaf.  Next time this is going into a loaf pan from the get go and watched carefully.

The ribs would have almost fit this bread perfectly if the loaf had been split length wise like a ciaabatta :-) The ribs turned out sort of normal  - before the bread fiasco thoiugh.

A nice brie and Colby jack grilled cheese sandwich using this bread with left over potato salad and BBQ baked beans, 1/2 ea of the 3 P's - pear, peach and plumb each stuffed with blue berries, 1/2 banana, black grapes, another 1/2 pear with brie and Colby jack , cantaloupe chunks with carrot pieces and a nice little salad with yellow and red papper topped with tomato and feta.  A decent lunch for a decent sandwich bread.

The Method

Making this bread is pretty straight forward compared to our insane kitchen sink recent bakes.  First you build the combo YW and SD levain using (2 ) 3 hour builds, mixing in the 3rd build  WWW flour and then immediately refrigerating it.

Then you make the soft white wheat soaker and let it sit out for 4 hours before refrigerating it overnight.  No scalding or microwaving required if you have the time and patience for it to soak a long while.

I also ground up the soft white wheat berries from the freezer and added the rest of the flours, home made malts, and salt to the ground flour in a bowl.  The water and yogurt whey was added, mixed in well and allowed to autolyse on the counter for 2 hours before being refrigerated over night.

The next day, the now nearly doubled in volume levain and the autolyse were removed from the fridge and allowed to come to room temperature – about 2 hours.  The two were mixed together in the mixing bowl with a dough hook on KA 2 for 4 minutes and KA 3 for 2 minutes until it pulled away from the sides.

The dough was then allowed to rest for 20 minutes in an oiled bow lbefore (3) sets of S&F’s were done 15 minutes apart.  The soaker was drained and dried with a paper towel and incorporated on the 2nd S& F.  After the 3rd S&F, the seeds were well distributed and incorporated nicely.  The dough rested in an oiled bowl between S & F’s.  The dough was then formed into a ball and allowed to ferment and develop for 60 minutes on the counter in the same oiled bowl.

It was then pre-shaped and final shaped into a batard, and placed into the parchment lined, bamboo couche seam side up.  The couche was then wrapped in a tall kitchen trash bag, allowed to proof for 330 minutes before being refrigerated overnight while the bartard doubled in volume.

The next morning the mini oven (MO) was preheated to500 F, and 2 of Sylvia’s steaming Pyrex cups, half full of water with a rolled up hand towel inside, were heated to boiling in the microwave.  The batard was removed from the fridge and the trash can liner, turned over by rolling on the underlying parchment, poorly slashed and placed onto the top vented mini broiler pan with the 2 steaming cups.

The baking apparatus was placed into the MO and allowed to steam for 12 minutes with the temperature being turned down to450 Fafter 4 minutes.  At the 12 minute mark the steam was removed and the temperature was turned down to425 F(convection this time) and allowed to bake another 20 minutes.  The batard was rotated every 5 minutes until the internal temperature in the center of the loaf reached205 F.

The MO was turned off, the door positioned ajar and the loaf left inside for 10 minutes to crisp the skin.  The bread was then moved to a cooling rack.

Formula follows the pix’s as usual.

35% Whole Grain YW & SD Semolina, Durum Atta White Bread with Soaker












Mixed Starter

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



Multi-grain SD Starter **






Yeast Water






Durum Atta












Whole Soft White Wheat












Total Starter






** 10 g each Rye Sour & Desem
























Levain % of Total












Dough Flour






Non – Diastatic Red  Malt






Wheat Germ


















Diastatic White Malt






Bread Flour






Dough Flour


















Y. Whey Water -155, Water -152






Dough Hydration












Total Flour












T. Dough Hydration






Whole Grain %












Hydration w/ Adds






Total Weight
























Soft White Wheat












Add ins













Subscribe to RSS - Ciabatta