The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Learning Hamelman's Ciabatta

onymous's picture
onymous

Learning Hamelman's Ciabatta

I'm now retired and a complete neophyte at baking. I'm slowly working my way through Jeffrey Hamelman's wonderful book.

Today is my third attempt at making the beginner's Ciabatta with Poolish. I'm gradually beginning to see the light on the subject of folding. The previous two attempts were highly edible (after scraping off  the burnt crusts -- I still don't understand steaming) but not anywhere near acceptable.

One of the mistakes I'm making is to assume things that simply aren't there when reading the recipes. For instance, in both previous attempts, after dividing and pre-shaping the Ciabatta's and letting them rest for about 10 minutes, I went ahead and shaped them into an oval loaf (page 71) before the final 1 1/2 hour fermentation. On re-reading the recipe this morning, I realized that it makes no mention of this kind of shaping, but just suggests pulling the dough into a rough rectangle before final fermentation.

So, is a Ciabatta not shaped at all after dividing? 

Any guidance will be greatly appreciated.

wally's picture
wally

That's correct.  The 'shaping' is pretty much accomplished when you cut and divide the dough into whatever shape you wish (rectangle, square).  The exception is if you are making rolls out of ciabatta dough (ciabattinis) and then you roll the dough after cutting.  But for normal ciabattas you really cut to weight, put scraps on the top, and once they have proofed turn them over and load them onto your peel or whatever you're using to move them into the oven.


Larry

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

in my opinion.  You will, however, find some highly respected bakers that include some minimal shaping instructions that go beyond the simple pull and tug into a square or rectangle.  I'm thinking of Peter Reinhart as one example with his "Shaping Ciabatta" (BBA, Pg 138) where he directs the baker to "Lay the loaves on the cloth and gently fold each piece of dough, from left to right, letter style, into an oblong about 6 inches long".  I followed those instructions here and produced some edible but not particularly outstanding loaves.  As a result of that bake and the helpful comments from members like Larry, I too learned... 


"Don't shape the ciabatta"!


Another member and professional baker, MCS (Mark) at The Back Home Bakery, has a great tutorial on ciabatta that I go back and watch now and then, to see how the big boys do it.  His other video tutorials are equally excellent (Thanks Mark!).


Keep on baking!
OldWoodenSpoon

onymous's picture
onymous

Thanks very much for the help and pointers.  I left them unshaped with this result:


Ciabattas


I should probably press out a bit more of the gasses when folding to avoid the overly large holes.  At least I didn't burn the crust this time.


Thanks again,


Joe


 

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

and those "overly large holes" are one of the characteristics of ciabatta.  I would not touch them if I were doing it, and I would be very pleased to get your results.  Very nice job Joe!


OldWoodenSpoon

Skibum's picture
Skibum

Seeing your crumb makes me want to try ciabatta again as it has been a while. I just fed my starter and my inspiration will be for a levain ciabata @ 80% hydration, using the small amounts of WW and rye flours Ken Forkish uses in his overnight country blonde. I would be mighty happy with crumb like that!

Happy baking! Brian

EvaB's picture
EvaB

I'm not a fan of denser breads at all, and that is the highest cibatta I've ever seen pictured. However if you are trying for traditional, then a bit more degassing would do it.


Havent' tried this yet, but am going to!

wally's picture
wally

That's what ciabatta should look like.  You can always degas a little more during the folding.  The trick is not degassing the dough when you flip and load it.


Nice bake,


Larry

onymous's picture
onymous

it's unexpected as those holes looked big enough for a small mouse to sleep in.  This book is really amazing, and, apparently, works best if one reads it carefully :-)


Well, on to the next exercise, a Pain Rustique on page 111.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

but i lightly shape ciabatta to be the exact thickness for a panini when cut in half and filled.  So mine end up wider and not as tall as yours.

Happy baking