Chinese Sourdough Ciabatta with Shallots (Chinese Sourdough - Take 2)
You can see it a mile away, right?
This time I am trying it with fresh shallots. The result is refreshingly different; I felt I was back to my childhood when my mother made us swirl shallots pancakes in winter time. The other version she used to make with shallots were steam buns - you cannot get anything more Northern Chinese than that! The interesting thing about food is that the same ingredient in different parts of the world is prepared differently and cooked differently. Chinese would steam their dough, whereas Europeans bake it; Chinese have their noodles with soy sauce whereas Italians have it with tomato sauce; and so on and so forth.
With this bread, essentially my ingredients are the same as my mother's; where we differ is in the procedure - she steams but I bake; where she uses the instant yeast, I use sourdough culture.
250g sourdough starter prepared last night @75% hydration
all of the starter
297g strong white flour @13.6% protein
167 g water*
a small pinch of vitamin C
150 g chopped fresh shallots* (about 3/4 cm pieces)
19 g sesame oil
8 g salt
*The tricky part here is to determine the moisture that will come out of the fresh shallots. My past experience is that at least 35 to 40% of its weight is liquid. I aimed to have a final dough hydration of around 79%. For the sake of calculating how much water I would need, I used 38% of the shallots weight as the hydration coming out of them. To be sure, I held back some water for adding later until I felt my target hydration was reached.
Before I started the dough process, I prepared my shallots mixture by adding salt and sesame oil to the chopped shallots. The salt in the shallots helped draw the liquid out of the green (the liquid is like an intense shallot "juice"). I then mixed the starter, flour and water; autolysed for 20 min, then put the shallots mixture in and kneaded for 3 min at low speed and 3 more min at medium speed until all were combined. It is important to try to resist the temptation of adding more water as the dough will further hydrate while it rests because of the shallots. It will not feel hydrated enough when mixing stops.
The rest is standard.
It was very cool today; it seemed to have taken forever for my starter to work - 5 hours bulk fermentation and 3 1/2 hours proofing.
Here are my first ever ciabatta:
Chinese Sourdough Ciabatta with Shallots
This sourdough is delightful to taste (to a Chinese, that is). The sourdough starter has made it exceptionally moist - it feels heavy in your hand and yet it is so light to the taste. I think the flavor is beautiful (a Chinese would not complain about that). It is definitely much healthier than the last one I made. The vitamin C in shallots and vitamin E in sesame oil - how better can it get!
I am indebted to my mother. Many things I have learnt from her unknowingly when I was a kid are finally making an impression.