The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Getting my Ciabatta right

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Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Getting my Ciabatta right

Hi all!  Been a while, but I'm getting back into the bread swing.  Last night I did a batch of Reinhart's ciabatta.  The loaves were beautiful and delicious, but not what I was looking for.  I'm hoping for some tips that will get me that last inch to the perfect ciabatta.

The problem is the crumb: it's not the caramelized, chewy interior I associate with ciabatta (like the gorgeous photos in PiP's Hybrid Ciabatta here), but soft and light, almost like an enriched bread.  I'll take some photos of the crust and crumb when I get home tonight.

Notes from the bake:

  • Dough was made with a poolish
  • Instant dry yeast was used
  • Room temp is ~66-70F
  • All water used was room temp
  • Dough was kneaded in my KitchenAid with hook for ~8 minutes on medium speed (4 I think)
  • Dough was *very* slack
  • After the mixer, it was put on the counter and stretched-and-folded letter-style once.
  • 30 minutes later, stretch-and-fold again
  • 2 hours later, divide into 3, stretch-and-fold each once into slipper shape and put in couche
  • 1 hour later, put on Fibrament stone that was preheated in 500F degree oven for 45 minutes
  • Add water to steam pan, spray sides of oven several times
  • Bake at 450F for 15-20 minutes

I got good rises at each stage, an excellent oven spring, and the internal temp was 209F when I pulled them.

Thanks for any suggestions!

-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

The picture, as promised.

-Joe

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Joe,

I have never made Reinhart's ciabatta ... do you know what the overall hydration is? I thought I had heard it is not as hydrated as other ciabatta formulas. It does look a very soft crumb, but I know where your coming from ...

some thoughts ...

- What flour are you using?

- Hydration? I normally associate a hydration of around 80-85% with a ciabatta ...

- Perhaps less intensive kneading and more careful stretch-and-folds, treating the dough more carefully as bulk fermenting continues ...

- Hot ovens are good ...

Cheers,
Phil

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Thanks Phil.  I'm open to suggestions for other good ciabatta recipes.  My wife adores the soft crumb, but I'm looking for something more chewy, myself.

 

Let me answer your questions here...

- King Arthur bread flour

- Hm...in the poolish water is 107%, then in the final dough, the poolish is 167%, with the additional water being 33.3%.  That's hard math :)  If I just flat out add everything up, I get 24.75oz of flour to 18oz water.  So about 73% hydration?

- I really couldn't handle the dough any less, so I think I'm good there.

- Hotter than 500F?  Start at 550F perhaps?

So next time more water, more heat.  I'll post up results!

Thanks,

 

-Joe

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Joe,

Yeah 73% seems a little low for a ciabatta for my liking ... and for 73% hydration I wouldn't bother bumping up the oven temp to to high. The wetter the dough the higher the initial heat works best.

If you can track down Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking you will find a very good ciabatta formula by Craig Ponsford. It uses a biga which is a firm yeasted preferment and the final dough has a hydration level of 82% ... so quite a bit higher/wetter than the one you are currently making.

I am sure there are other great formulas ... this is just one that I know well and enjoy.

Cheers,
Phil

Mukoseev's picture
Mukoseev

Hi Joe,

Here's a no-knead ciabatta that is simple to make and comes out remarkably well:

      4 c.       AP  521g          

      2 c.       Water  422g           

2. tps.         Salt                   

1/2 tsp.       Yeast                  

Incorporate dry Ingredients then wet. Mix thoroughly. Let forment 18 - 24 hours.  Stretch and fold several times.  Let rest for 15 mins.   

 Shape and let rise for 1 hour.   

BAKE
 Pre-heat oven and dutch oven to 500

10 mins. @ 435 covered

35 mins. @ 435 uncovered N.B.  I use a 4 qt. oval cast iron dutch oven and I slash the loaves at the 10 minute mark when they are uncovered.
Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

You know what's funny - Reinhart lists a biga version of the ciabatta on the following page.  It ends up at 83% hydration!  I'll try that next.

-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

It is certainly wetter!  It was practically batter out of the mixer.

But after I got it settled on the counter, it stretched beautifully.  It's on its first rise now, so I'll keep you posted :)

-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

My little fellows are all shaped and couched.  Oven is heating to 550F, as high as it'll go.  Wish me luck :)

 

-Joe

vink's picture
vink

The final results look great .. did you mimic a couche above with just parchment? Did you just fold, or use something else for additional support? (I made ciabatta from PR books Artisan Bread Everyday, comes out pretty good but a ways to go from what you have here still!)

 

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Yes, that's exactly what I did.  Just creased the edges and slid the loaves against one another.  I used rolls of aluminum foil and the parchment paper roll to hold the ends in place.  Worked a treat!

 

-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

The difference in the crust is night-and-day.  They're crisp, and a deep mahogany color.  I'm not sure I can wait for them to cool to tear into them :)

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Success!  They're perfect :)  Crispy crust, light and chewy crumb.  Thanks for the advice!

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Looks great Joe,

They tasted good too?

All the best,
Phil 

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

They were absolutely delicious, Phil.  My wife and I ate most of a loaf for dinner that night!

-Joe

Gunnersbury's picture
Gunnersbury

I sure like the sijmplicity of your approach, and will try it. But the slashing after ten minutes in the covered Dutch oven: and horizontal cuts at that: Seems difficult and subject to burned hands/arms/wrists. I think I'm too clumbsy for that approach. Any problem with slashing earlier, just before putting it in Dutch oven?