The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hand mixing Ciabatta from a biga

tangled's picture
tangled

Hand mixing Ciabatta from a biga

I just made some ciabatta with "proper" ciabatta flour from Shipton Mill. It was using a recipe, from Richard Bertinet's Crust, which uses a biga (at around 50% hydration).It was ok to work once mixed, but I found it very hard to get rid of all the lumps: maybe a mixer would be better for this sort of mix?


Next time I'm planning on trying these loaves with a poolish starter, as described in the Bread Baker's Apprentice, or maybe a sourdough only recipe (there's one on WildYeast, I think?).


Has anyone tried the different approaches?


ciabatta loaves


 

rainwater's picture
rainwater

Wow!  I don't know....your ciabatta looks so good that I don't know if I would change anything.  Peter Reinhart also has a ciabatta with biga.  I think Peter's biga is about 67% hydration.  I didn't have a problem mixing in the biga, and I only use my hands to make bread.

tangled's picture
tangled

Thanks! I'll have a look at thhe recipes in more detail. I only recently bought the BBA.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Like you, I've been using a 50% hydration formula.  I  haven't had any problem with  lumps and it has worked fairly well.



I must admit that I haven't used the "proper" Ciabatta flour.  In fact, I used the only thing I had on hand for this last batch  -  AP bleached; ugh!!!   Results were much better than expect however.


You didn't mention how you initiate your biga but I'm assuming your using the well method for adding the liquid.  I mix by hand, using a plastic spatula.


 

tangled's picture
tangled

The biga itself was just mixed water + flour + yeast. In the book, it then suggests you add the biga to the flour, then add the water, oil, more yeast, mix a bit, then add the salt. I mixed it with a plastic scraper, but it would have been a much easier process for me had the biga been a bit wetter.


I found that the biga was so dry that it clumped out as quite solid little lumps, and I felt some of them when working the dough even towards the end. I don't know if you'll notice any in the finished product or whether the rising/proofing will have smoothed them out. It wasn't very pleasant to handle though!


 

johnevans1's picture
johnevans1

Could you post the recipe for that glorious ciabatta? Also, how do you keep the dough from flattening?


John Evans

tangled's picture
tangled

It was an exact copy of the recipe in Richard Bertinet's Crust book. I'm not sure how copyright works if you post them here?


Also, the dough was pretty flat when it went in the oven, but it soon puffed up. I use a granite stone in my oven, and think it makes a difference.


 


edit: I put some links to videos on my blog I found useful for shaping. They are all so different, though! I tried a combination of them, but always turned the dough over before the final bake. The squishing down approach on the fornobravo site worked well, though I admit to being a bit sceptical about it!

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Would it do any good if you adjusted your recipe by taking about 1/4 cup of the water prescribed for the final mixing step and included it in the biga?  By the time you combined all the final ingredients your flour, salt, etc. wouldn't know if the water came with the biga or alongside it.

tangled's picture
tangled

I did wonder about that myself, and wasn't sure about the reasoning behind bigas being so dry?

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

to mix the biga into the water with a whisk first. You will find many formulas direct you to do this. Then you proceed with the addition of flour etc. If you make the mistake of adding the oil to the liquid you will get a lumpy mess. It does all come right as you surmised when it proofs but you are correct that it is horrible to work with. So try this and you will be pleasantly surprised. c

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

If you want to try a simple, high hydration ciabatta, try the Jason's Coccodrillo ciabatta on this site. It is never-fail delicious, full of holes and crusty, but slippery as oobleck.


Patricia

tangled's picture
tangled

Thanks for the tip. I had noticed that one but wanted to try the one from Crust as it speciifcally uses ciabatta flour, and I'd got a bag to try.

tangled's picture
tangled

That would make more sense, I think. Thanks for the tip.