The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ciabatta Progress

  • Pin It
breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Ciabatta Progress

This weekend I was very happy to find Harvest King Flour at my local grocery. I used Harvest King in my baking classes, and convinced my boss to use it at the bakery I helped start up. I liked its creamy color, and that it was formulated for longer, cooler rises and artisan breads. I'm hoping to find the retail variety similar in quality--so far, so good.

 

Since Mountaindog has inspired me to look at the Artisan Baking book (I think I'll just start calling it ABAA!), I re-read the ciabatta recipe and found it different than most. Like the Essential Columbia recipe, it has a little wheat and rye flour, and uses a firm pre-ferment (this time a biga). I've been using a wet poolish (or my sourdough levain).

 

I was pretty good at following the ciabatta formula, though I did use a little more yeast as it's cold here and things have been moving slowly in my house. Of interest, the recipe calls for dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in a cup of water, and then using only a teaspoon of that liquid! I felt it was safe to use an entire tablespoon of the yeast-water--and my biga did perform pretty much as described (just about tripled in size in 24 hours at cool room temperature). Actually it could have been more developed, it was risen but not very light or airy once I pulled it apart. The dough in the formula is described as "gloopy" and they're not kidding. I thought I had my ciabatta dough wet enough in the past, but this was extreme--nearly batter. There's no way I could have benched this as I normally do, so I left it in the bowl for several "turns" (which were in fact more like stirring with a spatula). After a few turns it was starting to develop into dough--much like the NYT no knead bread in texture. The last turn I could do on a floured bench, and I returned it to the bowl for another hour or so of rising. I divided it into four loaves (instead of 2 per the recipe) and made an error in my final proofing--I forgot to put the seam-side down. So, my final loaves were baked 2 seam down, and 2 seam up to compare. In any case I was very happy with the results:

 

 

I forgot to take a "crumb shot" but the texture was much better--larger holes, but not too large or out of control. We had roast beef sandwiches for dinner which were literally to die for :) I do like the flavor I get from using the levain, so I might try that next time, with the new techniques learned on this batch!

 

Also on the hearth this day was a batch of Vermont Sourdough (as I have BREAD checked out from the library):

 

 

Apparently trying to video yourself scoring loaves causes some performance problems! I'm going to try to compile a video of slashing and find a way to post the edited version---Anyway, this loaf has some nice ears but the round loaf behind it has a definite "blow-out" that I've conveniently hidden from view!

Comments

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Your VT sourdough looks beautiful, as do all the loaves!  I still do not seem to get ears on my loaves like you do, is that becuase my doughs are usually on the wet side? I have also seen the Harvest King flour for sale in my local supermarkets. Did you notice a difference in taste between that and what you were using before? I imagine it must be similar to King Arthur AP flour in terms of protein and ash content, I'll have to check their website to see if they have specs.

 

I am now using King Arthur Organic Artisan AP flour - I think the protein/ash specs are nearly the same as for the KA AP flour, it's just organic, I was able to get a case discount on 5 lb bags, so I got it for similar price as regular flour. It may have a slightly higher ash level - and I notice even more improvement in taste and texture.

 

I've never tried making ciabatta before, I'll have to give it a try as it seems to be the favorite of many. I imagine the pain a l'ancienne from BBA is similar in the wetness and texture. ABAA - love it!

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Well, I had bought a few bags of cheap flour (Ceresota "unbleached forever") so I do think I can tell a difference. I was going to get the King Arthur's AP on your recommendation when I saw the harvest king.  I stupidly didn't think of just using the AP versions, as they often are better than bread flour for these sorts of breads.

 

I haven't seen the organic KA--Ideally I'd like to switch to organic too, and definitely do for Wheat flour and rye, etc. I will try the case discount thing as well if I can find a brand I really like.

 

Sigh, it's hard being a cheap person! :) I was buying 50 pounds of HK from work or class for cost at around $12, so I've been a little resistant to the higher priced 5 pound bags, ha ha!

 


 

 

Wayne's picture
Wayne

As usual, your breads look great.  I am sure they taste the same.  I have been using King Arthur flour for several years and so far I am very pleased with the quality.  I have been making Ciabatta for about a year now (recipe from "The Artisan" web site.  It turns out very good and probably is not as wet as yours.  Like mountaindog,  I only use all purpose flour now, and the whole wheat.  So far, our stores here in Tennessee do not carry the organic kind.  Hard enough to get them to carry KA regular brands.  Guess I am too cheap to order them from KA.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Wayne and Breadnerd,

 

If you're really keen on trying to obtain good organic flours at a good price, and you do a lot of baking, you may want to check out any bakery or foodservice wholesalers in your area who carry 50 lb bags of goodies like KA organic, or Giusto's Old Mill (supposed to be a great artisan flour), or even Rocky Mountain Milling's flours. These are all regional flours that are hard to find everywhere retail, but you may luck out with a wholesaler who is willing to sell you a 50lb bag (tell them you are a caterer).  You can find the list of wholesalers for each product usually by looking on their website or calling the mill and  asking for the list. I was about to try that route next, but I was lucky to have my local health food storehouse (a big store with a lot of turnover) willing to order a couple cases of the 5lb KA and give me a 10% case discount for buying one whole case (6 bags). You could try that too if you have a local health food market that does enough business to be willing to order the bigger bags for you. It never hurts to ask, you may be surprised at what they are wiling to do for happy customers.

Wayne's picture
Wayne

Thanks Caroline or is it Kelly (aka Mountaindog),

Went to my local grocery store this AM and was very suprised to find that they just started carring Harvest King flour and it is cheaper than the King Arthur AP I usually buy there. Every other month or so they will put their KA on sale for $1.90 per 5 lb. bag and I will buy about 7 bags at a whack and put them in the freezer. Our health food stores here in Tennessee are a little backward, they never carry any flours, etc., at least here in Collierville. I might try your suggestion on bulk 50 lb. bags......won't hurt to try anyway. Think I will try out the Harvest King just to see what differences there are between it and KA. I generally grind my own wheat berries for whole wheat flour. Fixing to try the whole wheat (fresh ground) in a starter, being motivate by mountaindogs pics on starters.