The Fresh Loaf

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PiP’s Hybrid Ciabatta … mkI

PiPs's picture
PiPs

PiP’s Hybrid Ciabatta … mkI

I have baked the ciabatta formula from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking many times. For me it’s a reference point of what an ideal ciabatta should taste, look and feel like … oh and the aroma of the fermented biga is pretty special too. 

In contrast, I have eaten naturally leavened ciabattas and find I am a little disappointed with the texture. I enjoy the taste … but the chewiness and tougher crust feel out of place. For me a ciabatta should be almost weightless, brittle and singling loudly when removed from the oven. Its crumb translucent and fine … and yes holes … lots of holes  :)

I decided it was time to try and get the best of both worlds in a ciabatta – the delicate crust and crumb from the commercial yeast and the flavour and strength from a stiff levain - a hybrid ciabatta.

I expanded my levain with the standard mix of AP flour and freshly milled grains with the plan of using it fairly young thus keeping the acidity reasonably low.

Next the hydration … now this is something that I think I can push further very easily.

I set the hydration for 85%, but with a twist in the mix. Instead of building strength with plenty of stretch and folds as per Craig Ponsford’s ciabatta formula I planned to use a double hydration method.

The double hydration method I used was this … add enough water in the autolyse and initial mixing to bring the hydration to 75% while holding back the remaining water and salt. After a thorough kneading (15 min) add the remaining water and salt then mix until dough combines again. The mixed dough felt strong even before the bulk ferment and even stronger after two stretch and folds. In hindsight I think only one stretch-and-fold would have been necessary (if at all)

It bulk fermented for 2.5 hrs before I divided and shaped the puffy dough. By this time the dough had gained so much strength that I probably could have shaped into batards if I was feeling game.

After proofing I baked them in a very hot oven and managed to get a nice little steam burn on my thumb from cracking a bubble as I turned the loaves half way through the bake.

 

Pip’s Hybrid Ciabatta mkI

Formula (makes 4 x 500g ciabattas)

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2000g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

26g

2.4%

Prefermented flour

162g

15%

Desired dough temperature 24°C

 

 

 

 

 

Levain build – 4-5 hrs 24°C

 

 

Starter (not included in final dough)

81g

50%

Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)

162g

100%

Water

81g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough 24°C

 

 

Levain

243g

26%

AP Flour

919g

70%

Instant Yeast

3g

.3%

Water

838g

91%

Salt

26g

2.8%

 

Method

  1. Autolyse flour and water 45 mins (hold back 100 grams of water)
  2. Add levain, instant yeast and knead until well developed, roughly 15-20  mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 100 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly)
  3. Bulk ferment 2.5 hours with two stretch-and-folds in the first hour. This could be taken back to one stretch-and-fold as the dough had gained considerable strength by 2nd set of folds.
  4. Divide and shape. I did a letterfold and placed seam side down.  With less stretch-and-folds this may work better. Dough was a little to tense. Maybe even just cut and prove with no shaping.
  5. Flip the dough off the couche and transfer to peel. Dimple by pressing fingers into dough. Peel into a very hot oven with steam and bake for 35 mins at 250°C until very well browned.

 

They had amazing ovenspring and sang proudly when removed from the oven to cool. The crust is a dark red with expansion cracks running along the top from the letter fold seam. I then summoned all my self control and allowed it to cool before slicing into it. Whew … exhausting!

The crust cracked and shattered as the knife descended through it before revealing a open and opaque crumb. The kind of crumb I love in a ciabatta. Delicate! The flavour of the levain brought a much cleaner and lighter taste to the bread than the biga … a taste I think I prefer.

Were there holes? … well yes, but not quite as large and random as the glezer formula, but I think that has more to do with the extra handling I gave the dough during the bulk ferment.

But will I bake these again? Yep, very happy, but I will change a few things. I like the double hydration method and will use it again but I think I can increase the hydration to 90% easily while doing away with one of the stretch-and-folds. Perhaps even a tad more whole grains next time … I do like to see flecks in the crumb.

I would love to say we built gourmet sandwiches with fresh basil, plump sun ripened tomatoes and the finest olive oil … but in reality we made toasted cheese soldiers for the kids.

…and what do Aussie kids have on there toasted cheese soldiers?

vegemite!

… and do you know what?… they tasted awesome!

All the best,
Phil

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Phil,

The ciabatta looks very lovely indeed.   And I agree that using a biga is my preferred method for these breads, plus hydration around that 85% mark.

Not that I go for lo-salt, but I do struggle with salt at 2.4% in the formula plus vegemite [which I do like] plus cheese; that would be salt overload for me.

It is good to see a post on this topic; natural levain is not always the best answer on its own.   An investigation like this to include it in the formula with some bakers' yeast makes for plenty of learning.

All good wishes

Andy 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Andy,

I prefer a salty ciabatta as we normally eat them with minimal toppings. The cheese was very mild so in the end even with vegemite, it wasn't as salty as it appears.  

Vegemite would not be my first choice for a ciabatta topping but it actually worked quite well ... and makes a nice change from the sugar which the kids seem to be getting plied with over Christmas :)

Yeah, I agree about the instant yeast, it does have its place in my kitchen - right down the back of the freezer :)

The natural levain really brought some strength to the dough, alot more than the biga ... I think the shelf life seems a little better as well ... though we do have ants everywhere at the moment so its not safe for bread to sit out too long.

Good to hear from you,
Phil

nycbaker11's picture
nycbaker11

Phil, congrats on having your loaf sitting pretty on the front page.  Question: your levain build consisted of 324 grams, yet you only used 243 grams of it, correct?  why not use the whole build and I apologyze if this was answered before.

Ray

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Ray,

I will take 80g from the levain build to continue to feed this as the "stock" levain. You could prepare a separate build that equals 243g and use all of this. Hope this answers your question.
Cheers,
Phil

nycbaker11's picture
nycbaker11

I will give this a go this weekend and report back on my results!
Happy Holidays to you!

Ray

nycbaker11's picture
nycbaker11

was this machine kneaded or by hand?  thank you

Ray

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Ray,

The ciabatta was mixed my hand. After autolysing, I used the slap-and-fold technique shown here ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvdtUR-XTG0

Hope the bake goes nicely for you ... and have a great Christmas.

Cheers,
Phil

nycbaker11's picture
nycbaker11

I'm very familiar with it. Thank you

Ray

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Hi Phil,

Beautiful, interesting post.  Would you mind if I featured it on the homepage for a bit?

-Floyd

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks for kind words Floyd ...

That would be very, very cool to have it on the homepage :)

Many thanks,
Phil

sam's picture
sam

Very nice bread, and excellent photography too.

Every time I see a jar of Vegemite, I can't help it but that old Men at Work song from the 80's gets stuck in my head...  

 

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said,
"I come from a land down under..."

:-)

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks gvz and my sincerest apologies for putting that song in your head again :)

Cheers,
Phil

 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Phil,
Your ciabatta looks great (love that crust) and it must have tasted so good, with the addition of levain and some freshly milled flour. So nice to see how you have used a levain like Gérard's in this beautiful ciabatta.
:^) from breadsong

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Breadsong,

I love the simplicity of a ciabatta ... it can be such a no fuss bread but still surprise with a wonderful flavour. I think I caught the levain at just the right time as the bread is not tangy in the slightest ... I much preferred it in flavour to other ciabattas I have made recently. Gerard's levain flour mix and method work a treat.

All the best,
Phil 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Lovely , handsome, rustic loaves of Ciabatta, Phil! Well deserved for a feature on the front page.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Khalid,

Nat calls them ruggedly handsome :)

Good to hear from you,
Phil

sweetbird's picture
sweetbird

These absolutely deserve front page status. Your formula is going on my list of breads to try soon. I generally make ciabatta with a biga, so I'm looking forward to doing some comparison baking! Wonderful photos and writeup as always, Phil.

Thank you...Janie

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks for the nice words Janie,

Would be interested to see how it works for you. For me the amount of  stretch-and-folds in the bulk ferment could be reduced, but you will really need to assess how you your particular dough is behaving.

All the best,
Phil

judsonsmith's picture
judsonsmith

Beautiful ciabatta Phil- and an interesting formula and enjoyable post to read as well.

Nice work!

-Jud

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Jud,

Glad you enjoyed it.

Cheers,
Phil

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I can almost taste it Phil, wonderful work.  I was going to comment on your diligence in hand kneading this dough, but after the brioche dough this must have been a breeze! :)  Impressive on both counts!  Great bread, great post.

Marcus

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks for the compliments Marcus,

The brioche was certainly a labour of love. I find the slap-and-fold method quite relaxing and theraputic. Its a smooth and fluid and process for me. I concentrate on giving the dough a nice stretch and flipping quickly to trap air. I try and keep the "slap" to a minimum ... too noisey as well :)

Cheers,
Phil

Freudenberg's picture
Freudenberg

Hello, Phil,

I have been baking bread for about one year, with so much variety possible, I realize I am still a newbie.

Hopefully this is not a stupid question. Your ciabatta has no olive oil listed in the ingredients--why not?

Is this simply a personal matter/taste or a specific reason?

Thanks in advance,

Harry

 

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Harry,

The more you bake I think the more you see the varieties and possibilities ... it's fascinating.

I think of ciabatta as a style of bread baked in many variations. I have made ciabattas in the past that included olive oil but usually I prefer without.

So for me it's personal preference on how the bread is going to be used. We often use it for dipping in olive oil and balsamic or dukkah so oil in the bread is not really necessary.

All the best,
Phil 

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Phil,

 I hope the bread tasted as good as it looks in your photos. I'd just quickly scrolled through your feature until I saw the vegemite jar in the photo. My immediate reaction wa(pre-mix for machines) Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.......Oi Oi Oi......Ha Ha.

I then paid more attention and I have a question please. What brand of All Purpose flour do you use and where can it be obtained? I see bakers flour, bread flours , biscuit flour and scone flour etc etc etc but never AP flour. By AP flour do you mean an everday "White Wings" packet of plain flour. I've yet to see in a supermarket AP Flour. Can you help please? Also did you see the article posted on TFL for "No Knead Ciabatta" about a week ago? It is an article on You tube under "No Knead Ciabatta". Check it out.

I will often use 10 -15% of flour weight of my loaves with wholemeal spelt flour.

Cheers for now..............P

PiPs's picture
PiPs

G'day Aussie Pete,

Good ol Vegemite ... dunno anymore ... is it still Australian owned? ... oh and what about vegemite's iSnack2.0 ... what a joke :)

I am using Laucke's Wallaby bakers flour. I call it AP flour in my posts because its protein level is similar to the AP flour available in the States. (about 11%) I get it at Coles ... though not all of them stock it. I have used other flours and organic plain flours but I keep coming back to Laucke's. Its a quality product, perfect for the lighter breads I make. When I am milling grains I purchase organic or biodynamic where possible. The loaves I bake for friends usually have 15% milled spelt in them ... beautiful.

Good to hear from you
Phil

Syd's picture
Syd

Great looking ciabatta PiP! I bet there is lots of flavour in that crust and the crumb is just how I like it: open but not so open that all the sandwich filling falls through the holes! Never tried vegemite and cheese but it looks like a great combination!
Best wishes,
Syd

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks syd,

Yeah we had enough holes for vegemite to pool in without too much mess. The kids did a great job of keeping clean :)

Cheers,
Phil

Freudenberg's picture
Freudenberg

Wow! I made your ciabatta today--without olive oil I might say.

I do not understand the fantastic flavor the recipe produces in just one day.

I have combined starter and yeast before. I have also combined different flours.

None of what I have produced so far has come close to this ciabatta's flavor.

The only difference I notice is the use of double hydration.Thank you,

Of course, I will make it again--hope that the results are the same!

Thank you,

Harry

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

That great to hear Harry,

Really happy you liked it. How did you find the dough? ... how many stretch -and-folds did you give it?

Cheers,
Phil 

 

Freudenberg's picture
Freudenberg

I made a serious mistake somewhere--the dough was more of a batter. Way past 85% hydration!

I will be extra careful next time with the measurements.

I did two in-bowl S&F's with a spatula. The "batter" came together enough for me to pour the mess onto a piece of parchment.

I was able to form this into a rectangular shape. The loosness of the dough worried me, but, as I stated, the taste was superb.

If I learn how to add a picture to these comments, I will add one the next time.

Thanks,

Harry

 

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Again Phil,

Thanyou for your reply on my flour questions re AP Vs Bakers flour. I also use Laucke's Wallaby Bakers Flour. Occassionaly I will slip back and cheat a little and use Laucke's Crusty Whilte pre mix flour.  Depending on what mood I am in and what I wish to bake. Often I will use wholemeal spelt or rolled oats (in a sandwich loaf) for increased fibre and a bit more body and flavour.

Sadly vegemite produced by Kraft Foods is no longer Australian owned. I am not sure who is behind it now other than it is an American food conglomerate. Possibly Masterfoods but I stand to be corrected. A bit like Streets Ice Cream. A lot of people do not realise it was started about a century ago here in Australia but has been owned by Colgate Palmolive from England company since the early 1960's............Such is life here in Ozzvile.............Cheers.........P

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Phil,

Sorry about my spelling in the previous download. I should have checked it. 

I had just come off a 13 hour shift finishing at 3.30am this morning and wrote the reply with about 4 hrs sleep. Sleeping while the sun is up is mission impossible.

Next time I will wait a day till I am back to normal........Cheers

Freudenberg's picture
Freudenberg

Hello, Phil,

Well, good grief! This time I made the entire amount according to your recipe. I divided the dough in half, baked one half as a batard and cold retarded the other half to bake later. The excellent flavor I mentioned in my previous post to you (the ciabatta) is missing this time. Don't take me wrong, I still like the loaf--it is just not the same. So, the first time, I divided your recipe in fourths and made a single ciabatta--superb flavor! This time (with the full recipe) I brought the hydration down to about 72%--substantially less flavor. Perhaps the cold retarding will bring the complexity up again.

Any thoughts/musings/ suggestions?

Thanks,

Harry

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Harry,

I am pondering whether dropping the hydration by that much has something to do with it? Did you alter the salt levels as well? I think some of the flavour comes from high hydration (overall less flour) with perhaps a higher salt ratio. Just a thought. There can be quite a few variables in the producing a dough that all contribute to the final flavaour.

Cheers,
Phil

NickyP's picture
NickyP

Hi Phil

I'm thinking of buying 'Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking' book after seeing your ciabatta. Would the book give me the guidance to bake something similar to your ciabatta? I am a novice in bread baking, I am somewhat getting better but many loaves ended in tragety.

Regards

Nick

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Nick,

Maggie Glezer's book is great ... one of my favourites. I am sure that with it, and the helpful folks on The Fresh Loaf as well, there is no reason that can't make great bread. It takes practice and maybe cementing skills in easy formulas first. Maggie's book has the formulas spilt into different levels based on experience. Makes it easy to work your way up.

Cheers,
Phil 

NickyP's picture
NickyP

Thanks Phil

When you say AP flour you mean bakers strong 00 flour? Also where do you get the other flour/s from  to make up your starter/levain?

Thanks in advance

Nick

PiPs's picture
PiPs

The flour I used was a 'bakers' flour with a protein level of roughly 11-11.5%. So its not super strong. It has a really nice balance. The wholegrain flours in the levain builds I mill myself. I purchase the grains from health food outlets or over the web.

cheers,
Phil

Freudenberg's picture
Freudenberg

Hi, Phil,

So much to learn! I find it exciting. All the ingredients remained the same exept for the hydration. Sometime next week I will make a 1/4 portion ciabatta again to see if the original flavor is repeated. If it is, I will follow the recipe exactly and form two batards. Thank you for the enjoyment you are giving this retired man.

Harry 

 

Silviu's picture
Silviu

You forgot to mention the proofing time. 1 hour should be more than enough, right ?

Thank you,

Silviu