Jason’s Ciabatta Please Help!
When I knew nothing about bread baking and just did the no-knead bread it worked beautifully every time. Now I am developing more serious interest in making bread and nothing is working whatsoever.
I am trying to make Jason’s Ciabatta http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2984/jasons-quick-coccodrillo-ciabatta-bread. I don’t have a bread mixer but I wanted to make Jason’s recipe anyway, by hand, as some people say it can be done.
I quote campcook http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12994/best-ciabatta-recipe:
I have been making Jason's recipe with variations for some time. It is very forgiving and produces excellent results every time. I have flattened it into pizza, folded in extra ingredients, used fresh ground whole wheat flour and cooked it over a campfire -- all to the raves of my tasters.
Recently, I started doing it almost no knead with no mechanical mixer. I stir the dry ingredients thoroughly, then stir in ice cold water and let it rise over night. (We are camping in the mountains so it is very cold at night but I still put it in a cooler to slow the rise.) In the morning, I (wet) stretch and fold it a couple of times before dividing it for the final 40 minute rise. Each loaf is wet stretched again before baking one at a time in my camper oven. I have a pizza stone in the oven to help hold temperature constant. Each loaf gets 25 to 30 minutes at roughly 500 degrees ( we are at 7000 feet here.) The results are just fantastic -- big open holes, chewy crust and wonderful flavor.
I have flattened this dough into pizza or near pizza shapes and just shortened the bake time. I have added slivers of garlic at times, nuts, whole grains and raisins at other times - it all worked.
He says (in the boldface above) that he is getting the same result from stretching the very wet dough about a couple of times when the recipe directs to beat the hell out of dough….upto 30 mins at high speed(??)
Here is what is happening to me:
I mix the ingredients together lightly and after a few mins rest I turn the wet dough with a spatula a few times, sort of like stretch and fold in a bowl. It seems to firm up and become smooth and shiny but still floppy. But I am (was) assuming at this stage I am far, far away from what the dough is supposed to be as per recipe because people are beating it in a mixer for a long while before they say it ‘comes together’. I now throw the dough on a board and do the French fold which is touted to be great for very wet doughs. But, within a few turns, instead of progressing towards coming together,the dough gets GOOPIER and WETTER and breaks down completely. As I try to lift it the dough drips for my fingers. What wasn’t pancake batter a few moments ago suddenly turned into stretchy batter. It is still shiny but instead of smooth it looks rough, like cellulite. I scrape it off the board into a bowl and let it go. The yeast works because I see a lot of bubble eventually but NO rising in the dough.
I have tried this six times now and sometimes with different flours. It is happening every time.
Is it possible that the very wet dough develops gluten very quickly and then breaks down? Then I really need only a few folds? How can dough be this sensitive?! Then how is it that all those happy people beat it for so long? Is it that the gluten does break down while mixing but they don’t notice it because things are moving in the mixer but strangely the gluten comes back together after prolonged mixing? The yeast not raising the dough is kind of telling isn’t it?
Or, if not the above, then what?
Some people have stretched and folded several times but I am not getting there. The dough seems to disintegrate right at the beginning.
I want to almost buy a mixer to do this kind of dough. God, I am restraining myself not to do that. I want to be able to do this by hand producing the same bread at the end. It has got to be possible. No?
Can anyone help me with what I am doing wrong and what I should try? Any insight from fellow, but, experienced bread bakers will be so appreciated.
Meanwhile I am still working on it to test the variables. And I will post what happens. Maybe I will just go ahead and bake whatever happens and see.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this long post!