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FlourChild's picture

Craig Ponsford's Ciabatta from Artisan Baking- help with crumb?

January 5, 2012 - 2:19pm -- FlourChild

This is from Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking.  Wonderful flavor, glossy sheen to the crumb and slightly chewy, can't wait to make it again.  The only issue I had was that the large holes were clustered just under the top crust, rather than being more or less evenly distributed throughout the crumb.  And the crumb in the bottom half of the loaf was more dense, with no large holes.  Anyone know how I might improve upon that?

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Despite failing to post about it, I'm still at my quest for a perfect, hole-y ciabatta.  The last two weeks were interesting, to say the least.  

If you recall, two weeks ago I baked Craig Ponsford's ciabatta (a la Maggie Glezer), with results that were just about perfect.  Last week I tried to replicate the experience.  First, the formula and proceedure:

Biga:

  • 300g King Arthur AP flour (the original calls for 200g Bread Flour and 100g AP) - 91%
  • 15g Whole Rye Flour - 4.5%
  • 15g Whole Wheat Flour - 4.5%
  • 185g Water - 56%
  • 0.016g Instant Yeast - 0.005%* 

*(originals calls for mixing 1/2 tsp yeast with 1 cup water, then measuring 1/2 tsp yeast-water into the biga. I have a scale with 0.01g graduations, and just measured 0.02g. )

Final Dough

  • 325g King Arthur AP flour
  • 342g Water
  • 12g Salt
  • 1.55g Instant yeast (1/2 tsp)
  • Biga (All)
  1. Mix biga ingredients together until smooth.  Biga will be quite stiff.  
  2. Allow to ferment for 24 hours, or until tripled (Two weeks ago I didn't keep track, last week I only waited for a little more than double, possible a mistake).
  3. Combine all final dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix with the hook for 5 minutes.  Dough will be very gloopy.
  4. I gave it 30 stretch and folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Not sure if this had any effect--I'll probably skip in in the future.
  5. Ferment 3 hours.  At 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes, dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface to stretch and fold.
  6. Divide the dough in half, making two oblong shapes.  Fold each oblong in thirds, letter style (this will produce something vaguely square).  Gently stretch each dough piece into an oblong, and place on a well floured couche (I omitted the stretch last week--I think this was a mistake), seam side down.  Yes, down.  Cover with plastic, but try to keep the plastic off the surface of the dough.
  7. Proof 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees (or with my POS oven, 535)
  8. With wet fingers, make small dimples all over the exposed surface of the dough.
  9. Flip the loaves onto parchment on a sheet pan or peel.  Slide the loaves into the oven, turn temperature down to 450 and bake for 35 minutes, using your favorite steaming method for the first 15.
  10. Crack the oven door, turn off the oven, and wait 5-10 minutes more before removing the loaves to a cooling rack.
This formula is fun to make.  This is the dough after mixing:

First Fold, Before and After

Second Fold, Before and After

Third Fold, Before and After

Last Fold, Before and After

Ready to divide and proof:

Dimpling

Exterior:

Crumb:

This bake was...puzzling.  As you can see, these loaves were awfully tall for ciabatta.  The crumb was tighter than the previous week, more akin to a batard.  The flavor profile was a bit difference as well--the sour and whole-grain notes were stronger, while the poolease-y flavor (what I think of as pain a l'ancienne flavor) was more muted.  Indeed, if I'd stuck a couple of sourdough batards into my oven, and pulled these out, I'd have been neither surprised nor displeased in the least.  Since I in fact loaded a pair of conventionally leavened ciabatta...well, color me puzzled.  

Cut ahead to today.  I had intended to take another stab at the Ponsford recipe, but a number of circumstances prevented me from putting together a biga in time.  That 24 hour fermentation time is tricky to work around.  I did have time for a poolish, so instead I took another stab at SteveB's Double Hydration Ciabatta, with some modifications inspired by the Ponsford Ciabatta.  It went like this:

Poolish:

  • 190g KAF AP flour
  • 190 Water
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)

Final Dough

  • 310g Flour
  • 190g Water
  • 15g Olive Oil
  • 10g Salt
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)
  1. Mix poolish, ferment 12 hours.
  2. Whisk poolish with 150g water and oil.
  3. Add 30g flour and whisk vigorously until slightly frothy.
  4. Add remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Autolyze 30 minutes
  5. Sprinkle salt, yeast and remaining 40g water over dough.  Mix by hand until smooth (I started with the wooden spoon until the water was incorporated, then did about 60 stretch-and-folds with a spatula).
  6. Proceed as in the Ponsford recipe from step 5, except omit the 3rd fold, and the letter-fold after dividing.

The results:

Curiouser and curiouser!  Excellent crumb this time, much better than my two previous tries.  The dough seemed much stronger than on my previous two attempts, and I think the crumb is a result of that.   The dimpling technique may be a factor as well, hard to say.  Also rather tall for ciabatta, although not as ridiculous as last week.  Crust was nicely crispy.  Flavor was clean, sweet and creamy.  I think I liked the Ponsford ciabatta's flavor more, but it would be somewhat deceptive to say that one was "better" than the other, because they're really very different.  

Proposition: An open crumbed ciabatta requires a strong dough.  Getting a wet dough like ciabatta to be strong is the trick, but multiple stretch-and-folds will do it.  

Happy baking, everyone.

-Ryan

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, I quite failed to get around to blogging last weeks' ciabatta attempt, and now here it's Saturday and I have another bake to describe.  

Last week I made another stab at SteveB's double hydration ciabatta.  If you recall in week 1, I got very nice flavor and crust, but an unimpressive crumb.  I also found the process, which involves almost 30 minutes of mixing, rather cumbersome.  The first time I modified Steve's process to add a French fold halfway through the rise, and I figured this time I either needed to modify the recipe more, or stick strictly to Steve's directions.  I went for the latter, cutting down the mixing time, and adding 2 stretch-and-folds to the rise.  The results, however, were quite similar to week 1:

 

 

Crumb was perhaps a little better, flavor a little worse.  So much for modifications.

Anyway, this week I took a shot at Craig Ponsford's ciabatta, as interpreted by Maggie Glezer, as interpreted by these two blogs (the first has better directions, the latter had weight measurements).  This formula involves a very stiff biga with a little bit of whole grain and just the teensiest bit of yeast, which is fermented for a full 24 hours (28 in my case).  Hydration is just north of 80%, and it takes 4 stretch and folds to make it behave.  

The results, however, were phenomenal

And here's the kicker:

 

You may notice the loaf on the right is a little funky looking--it stuck to the couch a bit, and I failed to get it all on the parchment when flipping it over, and so I had to manhandle it a bit to clear the couche and slip a scrap of parchment underneath.  

As you can see, nicely caramelized crust (nice and crispy too), crumb wonderfully open (nicely chewy too), and the flavor...oh the flavor.  This was one of the best tasting breads I have made, period.  The combination of a big dose of poolease-y nuttiness, a tinge of sour, and notes of whole grain in the background was just heavenly.  

I think this formula is a keeper.  Beyond getting fabulous results on this occasion, I enjoyed making it.  I like doing stretch-and-folds, feeling the dough and watching it mature and come together.  Even if it gets the same results, I'd take a recipe with stretch-and-folds over one with none and a long mixer time any day.  Just a matter of personal taste there.

There's still some work to do--I still need to work out my flipping technique, and I still have some kinks to work out in the formula itself, in order to get the exterior shape more even (enough kinks that I'm going to refrain from posting my take on the formula just yet).  But this is a positive step for sure!

Happy baking, everyone,

-Ryan 

zolablue's picture

Ciabatta challenge - BBA recipe

February 24, 2007 - 1:56pm -- zolablue
Forums: 

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. 

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