The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Coach me on Ciabatta

smasty's picture

Coach me on Ciabatta

Hi Everyone! I'm new to the forum.  I began a quest a few months ago to become a master artisan baker.  I'm not too far into it.  I started with "Artisan in 5" and realized I wasn't getting quite the quality I needed (though there is a place for that technique I think).  30 hours ago I embarked on my second true Ciabatta.  This time I used the recipe in Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking" book.  I'd love some comments/coaching.  Here's some of my observations:

1.  I'm in Denver at 6,000 feet, and followed the recipe as written

2.  The result was the best tasting loaf I've ever made.  I had large holes right at the upper crust, but not much in the way of holes below that (see pic).

3.  My biga was very firm, and after 24 hours didn't really show signs of life, but I used it anyway.  I forgot to knead the biga, so it was just thoroughly mixed and left to ferment for 24 hours.

4.  The ultimate dough seemed a little stiff for a Ciabatta.  I'm wondering if that inhibited the hole development?  I did a turn every 20 minutes 4x into the proofing, and handled the dough very gently during shaping. 

5.  I forgot to dimple it before putting it in the oven. 

6.  As instructed, I baked the bread on the 2nd from top rack (instead of 3rd as I usually do)...but I had overbrowning on top, as you can see.  I did not use any steam. 

Here's a pic of my result...would love feedback/coaching.  Thank you!!  Sue.

flournwater's picture

Sue, given your circumstancesI find it remarkable that you had the degree of success you apparently did with this loaf.  Congratulations on the results so far.  I would agree that a bit higher level of hydration as higher elevations would probably improve things a bit but, beyond, that I'd offer no serious suggestions.  Baking (and cooking in general) at your elevation is a whole different science.  I hope you get a lot of responses from folks who typically cook at your elevation so the information you receive is the best available.

smasty's picture

Thank you for the responses!  I see there is so much knowledge on this board and the capability for me to learn by just being here.  Baking a great loaf of bread is such a cool thing!  A miracle really, that such simple ingedients can become such a complex satisfying thing. 

After further cutting into both loafs, I also feel that I'm pretty close on this.  I think the key things are more hydration and bake on the lower rack.  I will try again this week.