The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tasteless Ciabatta

inlovewbread's picture

Tasteless Ciabatta

I made ciabatta today for the first time. I was actually very pleased with the results. Nice big, open crumb, great crust and it looked just like the pictures in Reinhart's BBA! Exciting!.....until I tasted it and it just didn't taste like anything! So bland.

Normally I use KA Bread flour and KA AP for breads I make. Lastnight I was in a pinch and my normal store didn't have KA so I had to switch brands and ended up using Gold Medal bread flour. (the biga I used was made w/ KA though.)

Could the brand or type of flour effect the taste that much? What are some suggestions to get more taste after all that work?

SourFlour's picture

Someone who I have been baking with just had to recently switch to Gold Medal, and said she noticed a huge difference it made on Blarfette (her starter).  This was in relation to the activity, but if starters arn't eating the food, it might have a worse taste :). 

How long are you fermenting for? One of the best things you can do is ferment for a longer period of time if you are lacking flavor.  What is your formula?

Take care,
Danny - Sour Flour

bassopotamus's picture

I switched from King Arthur to GM All Trumps, and didn't really notice any difference in taste? I can fathom a change in starter activitiy because KA is unbleached, and much of the GM isn't, so it isn't adding much in the way of microbes to the mix?


Have you made this ciabatta before? It's not one of my personal favorites because it often doesn't taste like much.

suave's picture

Are you certain you put enough salt?

PaddyL's picture

I made a recipe from a Beatrice Ojakangas book, and her recipes call for very little salt.  I found the bread to be quite bland.

inlovewbread's picture

Maybe ciabatta is just a more bland bread. Is that why it's commonly used for dipping in balsamic vinegar and olive oil...

Anyway, if I try this formula again (biga ciabatta from Reinhart's BBA) I think I will use my sea salt instead of regular salt. Maybe a couple extra grams.

I will also try fermenting the poolish or biga a bit longer. 

THanks for the input.

longhorn's picture

I am willing to bet it is the low salt. Gold Medal isn't that different in my experience - not enough to be tasteless. I would suggest repeating the recipe with 2% salt (a normal level). When you change two things at once (flour and salt level) it is impossible to know what caused the effect.

Good Luck!

joem6112's picture

I vote with the salt people. I forgot to add salt to the recipe twice and NEVER, EVER AGAIN. If I could imagine the taste of wallpaper that would be it!!

PeterPiper's picture

I've made Reinhart's BBA regular ciabatta and found it couldn't hold a candle to the Team USA ciabatta, which has a great nutty taste and aroma and fantastic crust and structure.  Try it and you won't be disappointed!


P.S. Blog


inlovewbread's picture

found the formula, thank you- I will add it to my list to make. 




tananaBrian's picture

IMHO, Gold Medal flour is the best 'reasonably priced' flour there is and I used to use a lot of it before I started buying 50# sacks at the local Feed-n-Seed.  (I'm embarrassed with so many of you folks buying expensive flours while I use 'farm flour'... sigh, but hey, it works well!!)

You might try using All Purpose flour for your ciabatta as well.  I prefer Reinhart's (biga or poolish) ciabattas made with AP rather than bread flour.




ehanner's picture

The Gold Medal Better for Bread is a good moderate higher gluten flour with good taste. I get good after taste and that nutty flavor with proper fermenting. It doesn't give me that perfect baguette crust and crumb I'm trying to find but it's pretty darn good for $2.50 for 5#


inlovewbread's picture

I do think an update is in order here...

I have heard of certain breads tasting better on the second or even third day (such as the Polaine Miche) but never about ciabatta. 

However, I cut into another loaf (I made 3) the day after it was baked and I had it covered loosely on the counter. The flavor was there! It was like a different bread. 

So, even though I waited until the loaf had fully cooled before cutting into it, it looks like the flavor developed overnight. Pretty exciting, as I had great success with the formula and it was my first time using the S & F technique. Looks like one that I can add to my "I can make that!" list.

Which brings me to my next question.... 

tananaBrian- what is "farm flour"- I am actually interested, as I have been trying tons of new formulas, baking through Reinhart's BBA, and refreshing two starters very frequently. Needless to say, I go through a lot of flour and I have been using King Arthur but it's starting to hurt the budget :-(

I asked my husband to pick me up another 5lb bag of KA Bread flour and he looked at me and asked, "You need more flour?"

So, I was thinking of buying in bulk and going a little less expensive. Has anyone tried the bread flour from Costco?


Yumarama's picture

Mike Avery (occasional poster on these boards) has a whole section on different flour types and brands that he tested personally. It may not cover every possible type and brand out there but may help point you to a good one that you can get locally.

inlovewbread's picture

Thanks for the link, it was helpful and very interesting.

Davo's picture

Salt. Once I made ciabatta but couldn't measure weights down at the gram level.I made it up using teaspoons at the rate I thought right. The bread was so incredibly bland. I weighed the amount I had put in when I got my electric scales back, and it turned out that I had added between about 1.2 and 1.5 % salt. Now, you wouldn't think that was low enough to make it so bland as it was, but - it was so bland I couldn't believe it. I never drop below 1.8% salt, now.