The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ciabatta recipe question

kerguiza's picture

Ciabatta recipe question


I found the Ciabatta w/ Poolish recipe in the Fresh Loaf handbook.  Being new to bread making, I was excited to try out the recipe as follows:

    * White flour: 100%
    * Water: 73%
    * Salt: 2%
    * Instant yeast: 0.36%
    * 30% of the flour is pre-fermented as a poolish at 100% hydration with .07% yeast
    * White flour: 136 grams or about 1 cup
    * Water: 136 grams or about ½ cup
    * Instant yeast: Just an eeny weeny pinch (about 1/32 of a tsp or 1/10 of a gram)

Final dough:
    * All of the poolish
    * White flour: 318 grams or two generous cups
    * Water: 195 grams or 1.25 cups +1 Tbs
    * Salt: 9 grams
    * Instant yeast: A heaping 1/8 tsp or .5 grams

You can check the rest of the recipe at this site's handbook section.  I followed the Ciabatta recipe to the letter.  I have a digital weighing scale here so there was no problem measuring the ingredients.  But I was wondering about the texture of the final dough.  It was very sticky and hard to work on.  The dough was sticking all over my hands when I tried handling it.  I hesitated to add more flour because I wanted to try the recipe as it is.

I baked @ 450F and prolonged cooking time by 5 mins more from the recipe because the required baking temp was 460F.  So that was my way to adjust.

After baking for 40 mins, I pulled the bread out of the turned pan and cooled it for at least an hour.  The crust was hard, too hard probably.  Not really the usual crust that I get from bakeries.  But the bread inside had fairly good holes and was soft.  The crust really ruined the bread for me.  My jaw feels weird already.

What do you guys think I should do with the recipe?  What would be the end effects of the adjustments I'd have to do?

For what it's worth, I live in the Philippines.  it's 88F room temp here, and I don't have a baking stone for the oven.


Floydm's picture

I think the recipe is ok.  

The first thing that comes to mind is steam.  Did you come up with a way to add steam to the oven for the first part of the bake?  I invert an aluminum pan over the loaves for the first 10 minutes or so.  This makes a big difference with the crust, in the end making it thinner, lighter, and crisper.

What else... Keeping the dough really wet almost unhandleable, is good.  Baking it long enough so that the crumb isn't moist or gummy inside is important too.  Finally, I believe a higher protein flour like bread flour is your best bet, if you can find any.

Best of luck!