The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My ciabbata crust is way too thin. Experts Unite!

kurtzmtb's picture
kurtzmtb

My ciabbata crust is way too thin. Experts Unite!

Hey everybody,

Alright, I have tried both Reinhart's and Bertinet's Ciabatta recipes. The latter had the better crumb, but both crusts were equally upsetting. They were golden and delicious looking; however, the crusts on both were soo thin--i'm talking like less than paper thin! I would like for the crust to provided some sort of contrast in texture, but the crust on these were as soft as the crumb, so it just got really montonous to eat on.

Here were my steps:
-Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
-Place sheet pan on lower rack for steaming.
-One cup of water in steam pan once preheated, wait 30 seconds and mist the walls 2 more times at 30 second intervals.
-After steaming, crank oven down to 450 degrees.
-When the bread reaches 205 degrees, take them out and let it rest. It takes about 15 minutes give or take to reach 205 degrees.

Could it be that since I was baking the bread on top of a nonpreheated sheet pan that the crust is so lame?!  

Please help! 

wally's picture
wally

Ciabatta is a hearth bread.  You'll never develop the crust you're looking for baking it on a sheet pan.  If you really love ciabatta invest in a baking stone.  For a 1 lb loaf of ciabatta, I generally bake at 460 F for close to 30 minutes.

Good luck,

Larry

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(upside down if it has an edge, it traps heat under the pan)  and slide the risen ciabatta onto it to bake, also remove the steam pan when oven spring appears done.  Don't open the door to add more water, more steam escapes than what you can add.   Very hot steam is invisible.  Longer steaming makes a thicker crust.   Open the door to release steam.  

After some cooling, and before serving, pop the bread back into the hot dry oven (open rack) for 5 to 10 minutes to crispin the crust.  

Mini

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and have good luck baking all kinds of breads on (2) nested upside down jelly roll pans if the bread is on parchment.  A stone certainly helps but it is also not required to bake some good ciabatta.

I have also made round ones in a 12" cast iron fry pan, both inside the pan or on the bottom when the cast iron pan is flipped over.  A cast iron griddle also works and gives you the more traditional rectangular shape.  You can also make ciabatta in a DO too and the DO bottom can also be used as a cloche for round ciabattas on jelly roll pans and CI griddles and even sometimes when using the bottom of a CI skillet if the right size. 

kurtzmtb's picture
kurtzmtb

Excellent answers so far, thanks to all! How about baking on fire bricks? I found some online that had these demensions: 4 1/2-inch by 9-inch by 1 1/2-inch. It would come out cheaper than a stone(college budget) and I can stack those neatly in my closet since I have a small kitchen which I share with 3 other roommates. It also would give me the opportunity to make the baking surface bigger or small depending on what I was baking.

Any thoughts?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

They are too thick for the indoor oven and cutting them in half makes them go twice as far - since these bricks are not cheap.

kurtzmtb's picture
kurtzmtb

Ah, I see. So in order for these to be effective, these bricks would need to be about 3/4 of an inch thick? Haha, perhaps just getting a baking stone might be easier then :).

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

 practical.  For a wood fired oven that will bake all day and many loaves of bread, the full thickness is needed to retain the heat effectively for a long time.  For your oven that will bake a couple of loaves a bread over an hour, the larger thickness is not required which is why most stones for home ovens are less than inch thick.  If you have the tools, a saw really, to cut brick, then you might as well put some sweat equity into those expensive bricks and make them go twice as far.  But, if you have to buy the saw and blades -  then buy a stone :-)

I have seen folks use a 3/8" piece of plate steel in place of a stone too.

kurtzmtb's picture
kurtzmtb

Hmmm, well my brother does have a wet saw. Perhaps I can cut half of them and save the others for that outdoor pizza oven that I most likely will never have :p. You've been a great help. I really appreciate it!

Best regards,

Pat