The Fresh Loaf

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I need some encouragement - hand mixing ciabatta

Axel's picture
Axel

I need some encouragement - hand mixing ciabatta

Hello,

For my breads I use high-gluten flour with protein above 13 %. I mix by hand usually 3 to 5 kilograms of dough. Recently I started to make ciabattas, as I call them because they are shapless.

I atolyse flour and water for several hours ( 65 %) then add yeast and salt. And I start to develope gluten sufficiently. I slap and fold for 15 min then add water gradually. The dough is very weak at 72 %. I feel like I didn't developed gluten prior to second hydration. Sometimes I knead for 40 min ( 5 kilo slap and fold ) and I am exosted. 

I am looking for guidence. Thanks

Axel

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Chad Robertson's development method by stretch and folding in a plastic tub over a couple of hours.  There are videos of it.  We have done this for ciabatta to 80% hydration and maybe more.  Not exhausting at all and delivers superb results.

Axel's picture
Axel

I use this method as well. Now I have dough at 75% hydration, did three S&F sessions and still not really happy with surface tension. 

I ferment my dough in the fridge for 18 - 20 hours with 0.15 % of IDY, because my room temps are rather high. I will do another S&F ( maybe two ) then wait to see the results tomorrow.

After autolyse ( 65 % ) the dough is smooth at the beginning and after a few minutes it starts to loose smoothnes. I add salt after 10 min of kneading and the dough becomes wetter and softer, I knead for a few min untill the dough gets smoother again. Then I start to add water little by little kneading for couple of minutes in between ( untill the water is incorporated ). When I reach 72 % it is very wet and I sometimes loose pieces of dough, as they fly off. 

Axel

indiesicle's picture
indiesicle

with great results. I do 3-4 kg. flour (9.63kg. total) batches at 90% but I use 50% 12-16hr. leaven (100%) and 0.27% instant yeast instead of a long ferment. I hand mix, autolyse for 20 min., add salt, and s&f in a large Cambro every 30 minutes for 2-2.5 hrs. then shape and proof for 3 hrs. I use King Arthur Sir Lancelot (14.2%). I get a very strong dough quite quickly. Just a turn or two and it sets up in the Cambro pretty well. I can post the formula if you'd like.

-JOsh

Axel's picture
Axel

I have to use long cold fermentation because of the high room temperatures and my schedule. I will try poolish tomorrow. I want to make poolish ( 4-6 hours ) then mix dough, s&f and cold ferment untill the next day. I think I do not need additional yeast in the final dough. 

I need to bake at least 8 ciabattas every day for somebody, so I mix two batches - one safe to bake and another experimental. I used biga up to 50% of the fermented flour, but didn't like the taste. Strait dough with long cold autolyse and long cold fermntation produces sweet wheaty flavour I like. 

Axel

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so you can work with the dough.  It will help you control the fermenting better.

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Axel, 

Your post caught my eye at the mention of using 13% protein flour, as I did something quite similar a few weeks back, which you can link to [here]. The Ciabatta I made used a Canadian All Purpose flour of a similar protein percentage and produced a good loaf which I believe was mainly due to the minimal handling the dough received. Canadian flour typically has very strong gluten content so there may be quite a difference between the flour you're using and what I used in terms of hydration and handling, but perhaps the procedure I used may be of some help. Link to the procedure [here] Link to formula [here] For autolyse try going with 20-60 minutes rather than several hours, or use only a portion of the total flour for autolyse if your scheduling needs require an extended autolyse. The extended autolyse you're using now may be at the root of your problem in developing your dough, as a result of excessive gluten degradation.

Franko

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

As I understand it, your problem is that your dough lacks sufficient strength when you are ready to shape it. If I understand your procedure, I think you are working against your goal in a couple of ways. First, you are adding the additional water late in the process. after a lot of gluten development and organization has been accomplished. At that point, the procedure to incorporate the additional water may be disrupting the gluten network. Secondly, if pieces of dough are breaking off after you have incorporated the extra water, the water has not been sufficiently incorporated.

So, here are my suggestions:

1. Do your mix of flour and water to 65% hydration. Mix just to a shaggy mass. Autolyse for 20-60 minutes.

2. Add the salt, yeast and additional water. If you are hand mixing, Robertson's technique of squishing the dough through you fingers works well, although it is a lot of work for 3-5 lbs of flour. When the dough is smooth and coherent, let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

3. Start your stretch and folds in the container. S&F until the dough is strong enough that more stretching will tear it each time. Repeat every 30 minutes 3 or 4 times.

4. If your dough does not seem strong enough after another 30 minute rest, do a stretch and fold on a lightly floured board. Repeat this, if needed, after another 30 minute rest.

5. Cold retard the dough.

6. Shape, proof and bake.

I find this procedure works very well and results in a fairly strong dough. I use essentially this procedure, except I use a liquid levain without added yeast and no double hydration, for my San Joaquin Soudough. That is a 74.5% hydration dough.

Now, this may not work with your schedule, but it does involve much less hands-on time then what you described.

David

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Axel,   if you are mixing by hand, I would go with no knead, a lot less work.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/26377/no-knead-ciabatta-pics    I have used this recipe, and adapted it slightly because I use all whole wheat.    

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

65% sounds pretty low for such strong flour. I use Lindley  14% for focaccia and i think my recipe is around 80%.

I start with a poolish, although whatever preferment you choose won't make a difference in the process. This is one bread I skip the autolyse on. I use a mixer (as a matter of convenience) to incorporate the preferment and remaining ingredients and then fold in the bowl maybe 10 times or until it takes shape over the course of several hours. By the time I turn the dough out to pan, it balls up nicely after dividing.

Axel's picture
Axel

Thanks everybody for your support. I took all your recommendations. This morning I am making dough using poolish. I mixed all dry ingredients ( salt, yeast ) with water, holding back 10 % . Kneaded for couple of minutes then autolised for 30 min. Then kneaded for about 15 min ( slap and fold ) , but gently. Pull back not too far, fold swiftly and do not slap as if trying to break the table. Important part - I gave a few minutes rest after kneading, then checked gluten development. This 3 minutes rest made the dough smooth and beautiful. Windowpane test was satisfyng. 

Then I started to add water gradually ( can't aford loosing dough today ) , folding dough slowly. Reached 75%. The dough is wet, but holds together. Now it is in the fridge, waiting for stretch and fold sessions.

I'll report on the results

Axel

 

Axel's picture
Axel

This is my procedure with good consistent results. 

I use biga ( 56 % ) fermented for a few hours at room temp, then in the fridge . Total biga time 18 hours. I use 25 % fermented flour in the recipe. Mix water and flour - autolyse for 40 min. Then add biga and knead for a few minutes - total hydration at this time 65 %. After that add yeast and salt. Knead for 20 min. Place the dough in a mixing bowl, add additional 10 % of water at once and squish the dough through my fingers ( Thank you dmsnyder for that ). This is what I needed. It works like a magic. The dough comes back together in one minute and feels strong. I let it sit for 30 min. and fold in the mixing bowl. 

After the second S&F session the dough has good surface tension and stays dome-shaped.

Two lessons learned :

1. when "slap and fold" don't pool back too much. After 10 minutes let dough rest for 1-2 minutes. Continue kneading 5- 10 minutes then rest 2 minutes. Check gluten development after the dough had a rest.

2. Squish ! 

Thanks everybody for input.

Axel

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm glad you found a method that works for you.

David

Axel's picture
Axel

Crumb shot of hand kneaded ciabatta.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

That's very impressive.  Well done!

Paul

Franko's picture
Franko

Great results Axel, your loaves look excellent!

Franko

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David