The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Community Bake - Ciabatta!!!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Community Bake - Ciabatta!!!

Our latest Community Bake (CB) featured Baguettes and was a hit. Those that actively participated learned to bake baguettes of Artisan Quality. It seems the natural progression from there would be Ciabatta, the Italians answer to the French Baguette. 

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia -
"Ciabatta was first produced in 1982 by Arnaldo Cavallari, who called the bread ciabatta polesana after Polesine, the area he lived in. The recipe was subsequently licensed by Cavallari's company, Molini Adriesi, to bakers in 11 countries by 1999. Cavallari and other bakers in Italy were concerned by the popularity of sandwiches made from baguettes imported from France, which were endangering their businesses, and so set about trying to create an Italian alternative with which to make sandwiches. The recipe for ciabatta came about after several weeks trying variations of traditional bread recipes and consists of a soft, wet dough made with high gluten flour."

IAll bakers of every skill level are invited to participate. Novice bakers are especially welcomed and plenty of assistance will be available for the asking. The Community Bakes are non-competitive events that are designed around the idea of sharing kitchens with like minded bakers around the world, "cyber style". To participate, simply photograph and document your Ciabatta bakes. You are free to use any formula and process you wish. Commercial Yeast, sourdough, or a combination of both are completely acceptable. Once the participants gets active, many bakers will post their formulas and methods. There will be many variations to choose from.

Here is a list of our past CBs. They remain active and are monitored by numerous users that are ready, willing, and able to help if assistance is needed. A quick browse of past CBs will provide an accurate picture of what these events are all about.

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SOMETHING NEW - Since many of the CBs grow quite large, it can become difficult to follow the progress of each individual baker. Things get very spread out. In an attempt to alleviate congestion and consolidate individual baker’s bread post, the following is suggested.

  • Post all bakes in the CB
  • Copy and paste each bake into a dedicated BLOG post
  • Paste all bakes into a single BLOG
  • You may copy and paste the link to your BLOG post in the individual bake post as a reference for those that want to view your progess and evolution.

All participating bakers that consolidate their bakes the a BLO.g post will be linked in the original post for all to see.

 

Links to baker’s BLOGs that have posted a compiled list of bakes for this CB

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If you haven't eaten Ciabatta, you are in for a major surprise. The flavor, texture, and ultra thin crust make any sandwich special. Please join us and post your good, bad, and ugly bakes. Many old timers are probably tired of reading this (It is a personal mantra of mine), BUT... "we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes".

The following formula and process comes from Jeffrey Hamelman's book, " Bread - a baker's book of techniques and recipes". It is also available in Kindle version on Amazon.

NOTE - since the Total Dough Weight in the spreadsheet below was scaled to 1000 grams you can easily change the dough weight by multiplying each ingredient.

For example you decide to bake a 500 gram loaf.
Simply multiply the flour(570) by .5 to get 285. Water 371x.5=185.5 (round to 186).

Let's say you want 1500 grams of Total Dough Weight.
Flour - 570x1.5=855 and Water - 556.5

Does this with each and every ingredient to resize the formula to fit your needs.


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Below is a formula from Michael Wilson.

In Italy Ciabatta is mostly a CY leavened bread and the standard formula as per Giorilli is as follows:

Biga with 80% of the flour:400g bread flour180g water
1.3g Instant Dry Yeast OR 4g fresh cake yeast Rise at 61-64F (16-18C) for 16-18 hrs Final dough:All of the biga
100g flour
220g water5g diastatic malt
10g salt
  • Mix using the bassinage method until silky smooth.
  • Rise in bulk until double, cut pieces, shape dust with plenty of flour and let leaven until ready.

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Ciabatta con pasta madre biga *** SEE THIS LINK ***
(SD biga) submitted by Michael Wilson

Biga: 16.5hrs @ ~18°C

300g flour
125g water
30g LM (50% hydration), refreshed twice

Main dough:

75g flour
3.5g diastatic malt
7.5g salt
200g water
15g olive oil 

84.8% total hydration
81% PFF

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 While that is basically the standard approach, I am conscious that these authentic formulas don't necessarily translate all that well using American flours. With that in mind perhaps Craig Ponsford's formula is most appropriate. I'll see if I can track it down..********************************************************

******* PLEASE READ *******
Some of the Community Bakes get very large with many post. If a user replies to ANY post in the CB they will (by default) receive email notifications for all new replies. If you post a reply and later you find that the notifications to that Topic are more than you would like you can either (1) opt out or (2) recieve replies to your post only. See image below.

Danny

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Danny, this will be a good CB I'm sure!

Exciting to see a new one..

I hope you'll post a formula that is Italian in origin, perhaps from Giorilli for example. He is after all responsible for developing what is commonly accepted as the standard formula.

At least tell me there is a biga involved, don't wanna see no poolish haha

Failing that Craig Ponsford's is a worthy American interpretation.


Michael

mwilson's picture
mwilson

🤦‍♂️

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

You rascal, I emailed you a few days ago looking for the 'real deal'. I'd appreciate it if you would either post a formula and process on the CB or email it to me and I'll post it in the original post.

Glad to get input from you. Maybe we can get you to do a Levito Madre version. I am interested to try something of the sort.

UPDATE -
Michael's Biga version is now on the original post above.

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I missed that email. I don't get notifications for that address. PM'ing me would have got my attention. I'll reply to your email...

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Wow I was actually thinking I would like this!!! Have tried ciabatta recipe from Maurizio 3 times with varying level of success, and definitely need help figuring it out.

Would appreciate a sourdough recipe tested by the bakers here, or could keep working from Maurizio's formula, but maybe omit Kamut not to waste this flour that is a little more difficult to find.

Surprised this style of bread is so new!

Benito's picture
Benito

Count me in, I’ve always wondered what making a ciabatta would be like so I guess I’ll find out.  But will it be as addictive to make as the baguettes?

Benny

mwilson's picture
mwilson
DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Michael, the Giorilla formula specifies, "00 - W 380 P/L 0.55 (in absence of Manitoba) for the preferred flour.

For the Americans, would you pick a flour from this Amazon link? I'd like to be as accurate as possible. If found THIS ONE, but want to be sure before ordering.

You gotta' love the name for the Giorilla formula, "Giorilla Slippers"!

mwilson's picture
mwilson

The "Manitaly Manitoba" flour you linked to is a little weaker according to the W values stated and is not as refined as the one specified in Giorilli's formula. The protein content is worryingly low, however we know from previous discussions that these number are calculated differently compared to UK and EU products. At the end of the day a white flour with good strength should do the trick. Try not to let these very specific technical details, which are more relevant to larger scale production baking, get in the way of making some good bread.

00 is not critical, W indicates overall strength and P/L indicates glutens tenacity vs extensibility ratio.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

It was January 2020 when I last made a ciabatta (first attempt). This CB is timely as I was looking for something challenging. Hamelman also has a formula that uses a stiff biga, so I'll opt for that given Michael's comment :). 

I'm intrigued by the formula's pointed out by Michael and will give one a go in a second bake.

Cheers,

Gavin

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

That the Italian recipe has a 100% hydration. I realize you have been getting some excess water in your part of the world Danny but some may have spilled into this recipe. Hammelman says to lock the back door of the bakery to keep the bakers from from fleeing at a measly 80% hydration. He would need bars on the widows for this one!

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Ciabatta: HGW, 0.1% IDY in cold overnight autolyse @ 60% hydration,  45% BF,  3 x 600g  ciabatta
 PFF       levain hydration       dough hydration      salt      total batch size

27.6%            60%                        79.8%              2.0%    1830 (includes 30g for aliquot jar)

designed for 

462g levain (28g seed + 159g H2O + 275g HGW -5 losses)  +  432g H2O + 200g H2O for bassinage   +    714g HGW + 10g diastatic malt + 1.0g IDY +    20g salt

Process:
 Combine the 714 High gluten flour, 10g diastatic malt, 0.1% IDY (1g)  and 432g cold water and mix for 8 min at speed 0.  Knead a few turns until it is fully smooth and place in a bowl, cover with StretchTite and refrigerate overnight. [60% hydration cold autolyse]

Mix 60% hydration levain from 28g seed, 159g H2O, 275g HGW, ferment 14 hrs overnight in a warm place; should yield 462g levain (planned on 450g after losses - but actually got only 441g because it rose up and stuck to the plastic wrap and at 60% hydration did not come clean from the bowl).  It did lose a little over 2% of the weight of the 275g added flour before it was used which defines a mature starter.

Combine autolysed flour and levain and mix at speed 0 (100 RPM) for (5 + 5 =10) min, adding 20g salt in the last 2 minutes.

Increase speed to 4 (200 RPM) and mix in 2 min increments until gluten is developed,
Then bassinage in 200g of water at ~25g/minute (4 x 2minutes)

Autolysed dough  1151g@~40°F
Add  441g levain mix @0 for 5 min
Incorporate the salt during the last 2 min at speed 0.
59.6° after 5 min at speed 0
65.0° 10 min @0  This just mixes the levain with the autolysed flour/water/yeast/DM, salt
Switch to speed 4
68.8° 2min@4 (+3.8°F/2 min = 1.9°F/min @ speed 4 initially before bassinage)
70.1° 4min@4  started bassinage of 200g H2O
71.1° 6min@4
72.3° 8 min@4  (including bassinage)
73.3° 10 min@4 (finish bassinage of 200 of H2O)
74.4° 12 min@4
75.4° 14 min@4 (+2.1°F in 4 minutes = ~0.5°F/min since it was pretty soupy by then)

Transfer to a bulk fermentation container taking a 30g sample for the aliquot jar and ferment for about 3:15 hrs to a volume increase of ~45%, (55ml on aliquot jar) folding once at 20 min to improve the structure.

Divide into 3 x  ~600g parts, (4” x 16” long and about 1½” thick)
and proof ~2 hr (aliquot jar rose to ~80 ml [133% vol increase]
Flip and finger poke at 2” intervals; transfer to perforated Teflon-coated 1/2-sheets
At 5:30 from start of mix - Bake w/ steam for 10 min @ 500°F, then reverse pans and bake an additional 13 min@430°F w/o steam

Assessment:
At 80% hydration this was a wet dough but handled well.  Needed a few folds at the beginning of BF and one fold at 20 minutes to give it a little more structure. It was probably a little over-proofed, but stood up well to being flipped over and finger stapled before going to the oven.  Probably should reduce the oven temperature and bake for another 7-10 min to get a little thicker crust and dry out the crumb a little bit.  Crust color was good, flavor was good, crust was a little leathery rather than being crisp.

I will be looking for techniques that enable increased hydration and a better metric for terminating bulk fermentation.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow, hot out of the gate Doc.  That looks incredible to me.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

This does look great.  Other pictures, please!

Dan gave me a heads up the other day, and so I'm already in prep for my Scott MeGee based version, also as a levain.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

   

mwilson's picture
mwilson

The baked ciabatte look really good Doc!

I see you opted for the finger jabbing prior to baking. I think this is mentioned in Carol Field's book.

I know that it is done to prevent too much height developing during the oven spring.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I first learned about stitching the top and the bottom of the ciabatta together with finger pokes from Nancy Silverton's Breads of La Brea Bakery in 1997.  And it seems like every time I go back to making ciabatta, I quickly re-learn that it is a good thing to do for any loaf above some minimum size.  The Italian restaurant chain Il Fornaio used to bake a ciabatta with a pattern of stitches made with an array of rods that is pressed into the top of the loaf just before oven entry that makes the loaf come out with a relatively flat top.  I don't know if they still do it or not - I always had them include a ciabatta when I would order catered lunches from them.  The technique lets you see the stitches when you slice the loaf.   I suspect that it also helps with uniformity of the end product, and it is a nice visual too.

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Man, even the CRUST has an open structure!!

Good grief, man, you can do that with a sourdough??

Gee, that's something... something else again!... A long bread with a beautiful crumb from a sourdough starter!

I love it... just love it!

Good job!

Murph

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Doc, have I calculated correctly? Are you mixing your dough for 78 minutes?

Your crumb looks luxuriously soft. The texture must be outstanding.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

but my last name today is Buttinski.  I had to take a look for myself, because that just can't be true.  I believe your error was adding up all of the minutes, when the list was just a progression of minute markers - i.e. how many minutes into the entire mix the Doc was at that point in time.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

10 min @ speed 0 in 2 x 5 min intervals

plus

14 min @ speed 4 in 7 x 2 min intervals

mwilson's picture
mwilson

The bread I am currently making had some commonality with ciabatta. I posted a video to show what I believe a ciabatta should look like at the point of shaping. Keyword; "jiggly".

I shaped it in the letter-fold style typical of a ciabatta and I had to burst many large and persistent bubbles that came to the surface. Keeping them is optional - If I were actually making a ciabatta then I would have.

Bulk, not measured but probably just under double.

Thought I'd share a quick demonstration of what I believe is characteristic of a good ciabatta.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

That is a great demo to set the expectation.  With a ~90% volume increase during bulk, and a jello-like shaped loaf, how much longer can you proof before it is too fragile to transfer to a peel and thence to the oven?  And would you attempt to load it seam down or just leave it as shaped?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Thanks Doc.

Due to the way I do things, I never really have to worry about reaching that stage. My lievito madre starter allows me to ferment far beyond where most would dare to go. On top of that I also typically work my doughs to full gluten development, which means my doughs have a lot of strength.

On one occasion when it was too late in the day to bake, my proving dough had reached triple volume. I neglected it and left it there at room temp for another 15hrs before I actually baked it. It was still holding its volume after all that time, still strong! Amazing hey?!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Michael, when you highly develop your dough in the mixer, do you find the flavor of the bread somewhat bland compared to a dough that is less developed?

I am interested to learn.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Yes and no.

It really seems to depend on how I get to that stage of full development.

If I'm lazy and I mix hard and fast, then I definitely lose something, that natural wheat flavour. However, if I take the time to incorporate an autolyse stage (reductive phase) and mix slowly but for a longer time the flavour is clearly superior.

Also, lately I was thinking if there are sufficient yeast cell numbers present then this may help to prevent oxidation of carotenoid pigments since yeast will happily grab up that oxygen.

I have long been aware of this situation and have given much thought to if there can be a positive reconciliation. Full gluten development gives me the texture and importantly the volume I desire, but can I still obtain that while simultaneously retaining the natural wheat colour and flavour? I do think both worlds are possible with minor degrees of give and take.

That's why I like to work with durum wheat because then you really can see with your own eyes the effects of oxidation.

PS. I am saying that a autolysed dough acts as an anti-oxidant in some sense.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Mike, is see the dough is resting on a parchment paper. Are you going to invert it or will you bake it with the seam up?

That's one airy dough!

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I mean you wouldn't wear your slippers inverted would you?! You must be flipping mad! 🤣🤣

Sabina's picture
Sabina

For me, these turned out okay. I didn't end up adding all the water, and I think I would leave out even more next time. Also I would proof them right on the pan I was going to bake them on. Moving them around at all was extremely hard for me because they were so goopy. I might bake them longer at a lower temperature too because yeah, I burnt them. They taste pretty good, but they're also too crusty.

Sorry for the poor quality pictures. I should also have proofed them a bit longer, I think, based on the big holes only near the top of the loaf.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Ciabatta can benefit by flipping them over when loading. It helps prevent big holes at the top. A little stretching at same time if necessary. Interesting that you got all of the colors of the rainbow in your bake.

Sabina's picture
Sabina

 I was under the apparently mistaken impression that I was supposed to leave them "face-up", and took great pains to keep them that way. Actually, the one on the left was flipped because I couldn't for the life of me get it onto the pan any other way, and you can tell it has fewer giant bubbles at the top, and is consequently not as over-browned (in my opinion) as the others. It's the bubbles that burnt.

The two loaves on the right were baked after the other two, and I probably baked them longer. So that explains all the different colours!

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

What was the hydration when you quit adding water?  And what kind of flour are you using?

While you can say they are burned, they look just fine.  With a very thin crust and big bubbles, the surface can get overly brown before the crumb is fuly cooked.  And flavor counts (a lot of which comes from crust browning). Looks like they might have been baked in multiple batches since the color seems different from loaf to loaf. Or maybe the oven setup does not expose them all to uniform heating.

Sabina's picture
Sabina

I'm really cheap and I used store-brand unbleached all-purpose flour. (I can't even tell you which store because I don't have the bag anymore, but it would be Walmart or Sobeys.)  Looks like my hydration was 69%, but I didn't measure. I just know I used about half the bassinage water amount (Hamelman formula from the first post). I might have used a bit more. I know that's not really all that high, but I have a really hard time mixing wet dough. I don't have a mixer.

Yes, different bakes. The two loaves on the left were baked first. I'm not good at taking pictures, but all the black parts of the bread are bubbles with air underneath. I'll definitely flip them next time like MTloaf says. The left loaf which was flipped looks much better to me than the others.

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

A lower protein flour such as a generic AP probably won't hold as much water as a stronger bread flour or high gluten flour but that should only effect the upper limit.  Even with hand mixing and AP flour you should be able to fully develop the gluten by mixing it fairly stiff and then adding the additional water slowly via bassinage.

You may have stopped at just the right place but maybe started the bassinage early or did not get to complete gluten development.  Perhaps Michael will teach us how to determine when the gluten is fully developed and how to know the limits of the flour.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

From the archives, one of my earliest blog posts..

Sun-dried Tomato Ciabatta | The Fresh Loaf

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

A very nice blog page too! While searching the Italian master bakers, I Was lured by some nice looking chocolate panettone. Could you recommend a nice recipe for a novice, fly by the seat of his pants baker? 

 Micheal, I am curious as to what draws you to Italian bread? Are you of Italian heritage, or is it the techniques that you are indeared to?

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Thanks Will.

A sourdough (lievito madre) recipe? or a yeasted one?

My interest in all things Italian has grown and grown over many years. My grandfather, god rest his soul, was not Italian but he certainly looked Italian. He was short and olive skinned. His mother was not really spoken of so we don't know where she came from originally...

Here he is...

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

As close to the  Olivieri formula as you know. He certainly does look Italian! My Italian influence starts in the Italian catholic schools' mom and dad went to in Tripoli Libya. Then with the start of WW2 The Italian concentration camps in North Italy. Because my family is Maltese (British subjects) they were labeled enemy aliens by the Fascists. Not unlike what the USA did to the Japanese. More than one of my Sicilian friend mothers in Canarsie Brooklyn would tell me how Beautifully my mom spoke Italian! 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A nearby neighbour of mine grew up in Malta. I have considered going there for a holiday on several occasions. 

In searching for a recipe from Olivieri I found two.., one, an apricot panettone-esque enriched bread and the other, a colomba Pasquale. They are essentially the same and will work for a panettone bake.

Both assume prior knowledge of how to prepare the LM however. From the video you linked we can see that he keeps his LM in water. Let me know if you need some pointers on how to do this...

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

LM fascinates me as I have never used it.  Would love to see your process.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

As many (all) fresh loafers know, Jason makes a way good ciabatta!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I guess the subject says it all.  A second try at the 3 hr. autolyse and some significant improvements in process, as detailed below.  These are a little bigger than my typical ciabatta loaves, and probably could have used a few more minutes in the oven, but they had darkened to the point where I wasn't willing to trade of a burnt crust for any further baking time.

This is a melding of learned methods employed here.  The formula is based on the Scott MeGee ciabatta.  However his version is a direct dough with IDY, pretty much a no-no for me except when making a baguette de tradition.  I've made these before with biga, with varying degrees of hydration, with and without olive oil and even used some of my remaining precious tritordeum flour as well.

What I present is a levain version employing 1) Mr. MeGee's formula framework and 2) his folding method, which I really like.  3) Ciril Hitz' folding over of the dough onto itself before divide, and 4) Brofkraft's 3 hour autolyse as the most recent addition to my toolbox.  There is no olive oil used, rather I reworked the formula to add the oil's 3% hydration to the water.

Correction to the spreadsheet below: now that my mixing method has both improved and decreased in time, there is no need for cold water in the mix. 

 

 

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

This look amazing. Beautiful colour.

Do you think this would work equally well without the IDY? And do you have fine scales to measure such small amount of IDY? My scale only measures in whole grams... I've been thinking to get some IDY and mix them with some flour to be able to measure small IDY amounts.

Why do you use cold levain?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I have a milligram scale and IDY weighed 0.69g, 0.76g and 0.82g for 1/4t (scraped off, not heaping) for three different 1/4t measuring spoons.  So great justification for getting a small scale to measure small quantities.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Thank you Doc! I understand that a precision scale is required for such small quantities, even for few-gram measurements (I am even slightly wary of measuring 10-20 g amounts of salt for the bread, but haven't actually had any problems). But I actually never needed such small quantities, and only seeing some yeasted recipes thought that there is no way I could actually follow them... I guess that's an advantage of fresh yeast (is it smth like 4x more in weight then? much more measurable), but I am yet to find them here in the UK.

Benito's picture
Benito

I purchased a second scale last year when I found that I wanted to be more precise with measuring diastatic malt and salt.  Now I’m not sure I could live without it especially when baking any IDY recipes.  Go for it Ilya, I picked one up from Amazon and it was quite reasonable.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Thanks Benny, I might do that!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I do enjoy a good high precision scale in the lab with 0.0001 g precision :)

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

This scale (300g x/ 0.001g) used to sell for $50 but at $100 is still a very good deal.  I didn't check the UK Amazon site, but it is from China so should be widely available.  It does drift a little over time and temperature, but for instant weights it is excellent (and it comes with a 200g cal weight).  And with a 300g capacity you are not always looking for a lightweight pan.  I usually use a 5.5 oz polypropylene food service cup as a pan.  It will hold 120g of liquid and weighs about 7g dry.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Ilya i have picked up jewelers scales on ebay for under $20 Australian 

ralphyo's picture
ralphyo

Been reading the entries here and the abbreviations have me puzzled.  Have no idea what IDY, HGW, etc. mean.  Doc's recipe above is unintelligible to me.  Can someone help with the abbreviations please?

meb21's picture
meb21

IDY = Instant dry yeast; BF = bread flour; HGW= high gluten wheat (I'm assuming); PFF = prefermented flour...these are my assumptions. It can get pretty technical for sure. but additive! 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

FF = French Folds same as S&F = Slap & Fold

LF = Letter Fold= same as S&F = Stretch & Fold!

VWG = Vital Wheat Gluten

someone pick it up from here...

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

In the earlier iterations from the formula when it would take a few minutes longer to mix.  If the water and levain weren't cold, the mixing friction on my mixer would rate the temperature to the low 80s dF.  Starting off with a cold levain and cold water alleviated that.  With my current method as in the notes below the formula, the temperature of the mix remains much cooler.

It probably would work well without the IDY, but perhaps boost the levain percentage up to 25% pre fermented flour.  In all iterations of this formula, I've always added that pinch of IDY to ensure that the dough will rise within my anticipated 2 hour BF window.

I bought a scale on Amazon for ~ US$10 that reads down the the hundredths of a gram (0.00)g.  It seems pretty accurate and have been using it for years to scale out the salt and DY.  Of course this isn't the main scale as it only reads up to maybe 500g.

Late Edit.  You can also get away with using measuring spoons in lieu of a scale.  It won't be accurate but should be close.  Conversion table can be found here

thanks, alan

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow another stunner early in the CB.  I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get my first bake in but its great seeing a recipe from you Alan that uses some levain.  I was hoping to make a sourdough ciabatta and have been looking for a recipe, this might be a good way to start.  Thanks for posting your detailed formula as you always do Alan.

Benny

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Maurizio has a pure sourdough ciabatta recipe, but I've had varying levels of success with it, never producing a perfect ciabatta... So I am also on a lookout for another sourdough version.

Benito's picture
Benito

I considered his recipe but after your less than stellar review I’m still looking.  Alan’s hybrid might be a good compromise.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

It could just be me. But last time I even tried to retard shaped ciabattas, which seemed to have revolutionized my baguettes, but the results were only OK, I'd say. And one our of four of them inflated like a balloon! Which is quite convenient to stuff for sandwiches, but not what I was looking for :) if someone else tried it, I'd be curious how it worked for them... Reviews on his website seem a little mixed too.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

in modified ways for the past 2-3 years since happening across the Scott MeGee video.  Eventually converting it to levain, which seems to be the only way I do it these days.  Once I got the hang of the shaping there was good consistency to the loaves.

thanks, alan

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Alan -  Well done!  What is your convention for mixing a levain?  I don't find your seed starter quantity or your fermentation time/temp.  And how wide is that piece of flooring that you are using as a transfer peel/bread board? Looks like somewhere between 4 and 5 inches but there is nothing in the photo to use as a reference and there are no standards for the product.

Really nice color and not too much flour on the loaf when it was baked (which I find all too easy to do).  I think I may run a batch using AP flour and see how it turns out.  Will be interesting to see how much temperature rise I get with the spiral mixer and AP flour in a batch of ciabatta.  I like to develop the gluten at a fairly low hydration and put whatever water is left over into the bassinage (which is why I built my levain at 60% instead of 100%).

alfanso's picture
alfanso

in the past I've been capable of a lesser amount.  As in this biga version from 2019...

 

I also neglected to mention that I use King Arthur AP flour.

The hand peel is indeed a piece of cheap-as-they-come laminate flooring, now in service since this journey began about 6 years  ago.  5 1/2 inches wide and cut down from the original strip.

You may not be happy with my levain maintenance and build pattern, as it is all over the board and undisciplined.  I recently refreshed this 100% hydration AP levain from its 4 week old hiatus, so this morning I took 200g straight from the refrigerator and then added 100g each water and flour.  I used the warmest tap water we had to begin warming up the levain.  It came in just short of doubling in ~4 hours.

And that is pretty typical of how I treat my levain, which I've used without a build after as much as 5 weeks unloved against the back wall of my refrigerator, although these days I try to get in 2 or 3 builds just to try and get into the habit.  As the levain had so recently been refreshed, I dispensed with the staged builds and went for the singular instead.

thanks, alan

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I love the look and crumb of these. Interesting process and formula. I'm giving Daniel Leader's version a try tomorrow that uses a cold biga (one hour bench rest then refrigerate overnight). 80% overall dough hydration that has a room BF for 3 to 4 hours. New territory for me. I'll post the results. I noticed you didn't dimple the loaves before final proof..

Cheers,

Gavin.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

a docked (dimpled) version of this bread.  So that is a new concept to me.  I've had more open crumbs before by taking the hydration up a few clicks, but this version is still quite light and airy, so I really don't see the point of trying when this nicely suits the bill.  

My biga version of this is at 40% pre fermented flour. And a sample of it can be seen in my reply to Doc just above this, although that one does have the olive oil as well.

thanks, alan

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I have a quick question for you. This will be the first bread baked in my new oven. I plan on using the standard bake mode. I was wondering if you ever use convection in your bread baking. If so, how would that procedure look? Thanks for your help. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I've never used convection bake mode.

Benito's picture
Benito

I actually use convection quite often as I find it does help promote more even browning.

When I bake in a dutch oven, I always have convection on.

When baking with steam, for example for baguettes, when steam needed convection off.  Once I remove the steaming gear, convection gets turned back on.

Benny

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

well, for certain there is no arguing with your results. Thanks for the tip, I will take it under advisement. For this first bread bake, I think I will stick to normal bake mode. 

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I do the same. I don't think I get more even browning this way, but it happens quicker. Occasionally I even turn on the grill for a minute or two in the end for properly dark crust!

isand66's picture
isand66

I’m surprised you are counting the oil in your hydration for your formula.  I’ve always been under the impression that oil is not to be counted towards the hydration level of the bread and my BreadStorm program also doesn’t count it towards he hydration.  Not sure it really matters that much anyway.  Potato 🥔...patato😬

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ian, I always assumed that oil increased the hydration. But if that is incorrect, I’d like to learn. Always assumed that anything that made the dough more wet should be considered in the hydration.

Can someone clarify and elaborate on this?

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Ian,

His text reads that oils at room temperature are "liquifiers", and "as such their weight is included with that of the water when computing dough hydration".  

Other bakers may have their own take on this, pro or con, but this is what the Bread book states.

isand66's picture
isand66

I’m pretty sure The Bakers Guild of America stated that oil should not be considered a liquid.  I will have to see if I can find the article as it was from several years ago.  I know this is an often disputed topic.  I have never found the small amount of oil to impact the hydration either way.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

My last 3 bakes used 3.8% oil. It makes a huge difference in the suppleness of the dough. It is a joy to handle, even at high hydrations.

But does oil make a dough feel wetter? When I consider hydration that is what I consider. It seems probable that even though the oil makes the dough more slack, it is also much less sticky. Therefore, ease of handling.

isand66's picture
isand66

I find adding oil which is a fat does make a more supple and silky dough.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Hello, friends.

I am very happy to be able to join you all in another community bake. My first order of business is to thank Danny and Michael (M.Wilson) for supplying the starting point formulas. I am taking the liberty and sharing the Giorilli formula in the format I like to use. As many of you know from my semolina bread bakes, authentic Italian is right up my alley! Now I am not saying I am an expert all I am saying is, this is an area I like to explore. In addition to the transcribed formula, I have attached a video of chef Giorilli in action. Now back to my pre-bake research. Smile...

Bassinage: is a method that first develops a dough to a rather high gluten-development and then slowly incorporates more water into it. This greatly improves the fresh-keeping and softness of the crumb while not significantly prolonging mixing.

 

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Abel Sierra posted his 45% hydration, 90% biga bake here.  It isn't a ciabatta, but based on the same biga.  If this interests you for reference, then don't overlook Abel's comments below the post.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Panettiere Ezio Marinato!

maestro Ezio Marinato.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Thanks Will for taking the time to put Giorilli's formula into an easier to read format and for the added details. This will really help others.

I'm aware this formula may be difficult for a US audience to follow. I'm not sure what flour(s) I should be recommending and depending on that choice increasing the final hydration may be appropriate. The video is a good way to see what one should be aiming for with the final dough.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Hi Michael,

Not my place to state what type of flour should shouldn't be used by anyone else, but I've always used AP for ciabatta.  Whether off the supermarket shelf (Gold Medal/Pillsbury) or King Arthur AP with 11.7% protein.  I've also used the KA AP in combination with Tritordeum flour at 50/50 percentages with consistent results. 

If one wants to remain true to the formula as written by Signore Giorilli, no issues by me of course.  

I did want to state that I find plain old AP flour is my go-to flour for ciabatta.  Therefore, it should't be a necessity for one to seek out a high gluten flour to produce a good ciabatta loaf.

alan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Michael recommended Caputo “00” Americana flour to me. It handles long fermentation and high hydrations very well. My breads (using this flour) turned out great, although I have much to learn about shaping the Ciabatta.

It is available in the US through Amazon and is sold by Stan of Brick Oven Baker.

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Thanks very much for posting this method!  I've made a couple of batches, using Graincraft Morbread, and the results are excellent.  Some of the lightest ciabatta I've ever made.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I don't quite get this. The video clearly shows Panettiere Ponsford, adding a low hydration biga to his mix. Yet the formula below the video calls for poolish? 

Panettiere Ponsford-ciabatta

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

This formula uses a rather interesting technique I have never seen before, (I know I should get out more.) The 24hr. biga stats with mixing 1/2 cup water with 1/8th teaspoon of IDY. Then only 1/4 teaspoon of the yeast mixture is used in the biga build. Very interesting indeed! 

Eureka

mwilson's picture
mwilson

That's the one I'm familiar with. Before you found that link I took some snaps from Maggie's book.

Despite what it says the hydration of the pre-ferment (biga) is actually 56%

 

suave's picture
suave

That was a common way to measure very small amounts before 0.01 g range scales became widely avaialble.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Another formula from Italia. Whole grain Ciabatta, with a kick-ass sandwich at the end! 

Ciabatta con Farina Integra

gavinc's picture
gavinc

This Daniel Leader’s recipe from “Local Breads”.

This ciabatta is 80% hydration and was very sticky and a challenge to knead without mixing in too much additional flour. My bench scraper got a real work-out. The biga was prepared the day before and refrigerated after a 1-hour bench rest until the next morning. The biga had doubled in volume and smelled mildly acidic.

I mixed the dough to incorporate the ingredients, then turned out onto the counter to knead for about 15 minutes. The dough was glistening, creamy and extremely elastic. Place on a Couche covered and fermented at 21 to 24 C until inflates x 3, 3 to 4 hours.

At 3 ½ hours dough looked ready and was extremely light and fluffy. I turned the dough out onto the floured countertop. I lifted and stretched the dough onto my peal covered with parchment paper. As I docked the dough with my fingertips, the dough flattened out more than expected and I wondered if I was too aggressive. The loaves were proofed at room temperature for 30 – 40 minutes.

The loaves were baked in a pre-steamed oven at 246 C. I used the parchment to manoeuvre the dough as it was so fragile. Steam for first 10 minutes and baked for about 30 minutes, until light and golden crust.

Lesson learned: I will reduce the BF to 2 1/1 to 3 hours as I felt the dough was a little over-proofed

and caused the partial deflation (I think?). I was also surprised at the amount of IDY and may tinker this down.

Taste test: A very nice nutty-sweet taste with an outer crisp, yet chewy crust. The crumb as not as open as I expected but still nice with irregular small holes. I can't believe that white flour could deliver such a beautiful flavour.

Cheers,

Gavin.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I forgot to include the formula. I recalculated for a 556 g single dough to test the formula. I used a white flour of 12.5% protein. There is 16.5% flour pre-fermented in the biga.

Book Recipe

 

 

Overall Formula

Baker's %

g

White Flour

100

303

Instant Yeast

2

6.05

Water

 

80

242

Salt

 

1.7

5.15

Total Yield

183.7

556

    

Biga

 

 

 

White Flour

100

50

Water

 

65

32

Instant Yeast

2

1.00

Total Yield

167

83

    

Final Dough

 

 

White Flour

 

253

Biga

 

 

83

Water

 

 

210

Salt

 

 

5.15

Instant Yeast

 

5.05

Total

 

 

556

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Gavin, you’re probably right that it was a bit overproofed.  It sounds like the flavour was great so just a bit of tinkering on the yeast and bulk/proof might do the trick.  Seems like a very successful bake though overall.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I've been thinking about the over proofing, especially since I was expecting better volume. I rechecked Leader's formula in the book and his ingredient said "instant yeast". Misleadingly, I assumed that meant instant dry yeast. I thought it was a lot at the time, but not having made this before I just with that amount that I think resulted in a much faster proof that I was prepared. I have never seen fresh yeast referred to as instant yeast before. I will bake this again to confirm my suspicion.  

Cheers,

Gavin.

Benito's picture
Benito

I’ve never heard fresh yeast being called instant yeast either Gavin, but that would make sense as to why your dough got overproofed.  Your next iteration will be better for sure with that adjustment.

Benny

gerhard's picture
gerhard

heard of being called fresh or compressed but never instant. There is something to be said for standardization of terms.

albacore's picture
albacore

I recently was given Leader's "Living Bread" book. I've only tried one recipe so far which is a 41% Emmer recipe. He uses an LM starter, but tops it up with 0.6% IDY. It did not make a good bread; I think the LM was probably "drowned out" by the IDY and the bread lacked flavour and had a dry crumb.

So I will be very careful with his recipes in future; I believe he has modified the so-called "authentic" recipes he has collected, often by increasing the yeast amount because he thinks this will work better for amateur bakers (it could also be for IP reasons!)

As another example, his latest book has a ciabatta with a rye starter, but he also adds 1% IDY to the final dough. This is equivalent to a massive 3% fresh yeast!!!

And to clarify, he refers to the yeast he uses as "dry instant yeast" - no confusion there.

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

See THIS LINK for compilation of all of my Ciabatta bakes.

Bakes 1 & 2 used Hamelman’s Poolish formula listed in the original post. I haven’t baked Ciabatta in a long time and the results bare this out. The breads had a super thin crust and a super soft interior. That suited me to the max. The taste was ok, but I would have liked a much more complex flavor.


The black specks in the image below are black olives. 5% was used but the increase in flavor was disappointing. Chopped green olives, maybe as much as 10%, might have been a better choice. 5% olive oil was added to the second bake. It softened the crumb and enhanced the bread, IMO.

Bake 3 - After the previous two bakes I started exploring the possibilities of using much less CY with an increase in flavor in mind. This lead me to John Kirkwood’s formula that used a small amount of CY in the Poolish only and none in the Final Dough. His Poolish ferment temp & timing didn’t work at all for me. After following his directions to refrigerate the Poolish for 12-14 hours it had not risen at all, so it was left on the counter to mature before mixing into the Final Dough. The bread produced the typical Ciabatta crumb and the flavor had more character, but improvements were needed. To tell you the truth! I like Allan’s crumb better than the typical holey version. See Alan’s crumb shot below.

Bake 3 Images 

Bake 4 - As a former fan of Ciabatta with Poolish, my recent studies revealed that the original Ciabatta used a Biga. It is my understanding that the Poolish is French and the Biga is Italian. With this new knowledge the Biga version became the focus...

A response by Debra on a recent and timely post concerning “ How to make a starter maximized for yeast” taught me that white flour, low hydration, frequent builds, and moderate temps would move my starter in that direction. And so it was, 50% hydration, all white flour, temps in the low 70’s (F), and 3 feeds a day for several days. Not a Lievito Madre, but inching closer. I’ll be leaning on Michael as LM evolution evolves :-)

Michael tells me that a Biga can be either SD or CY, but must be low hydration.  SD was chosen because flavor was the main focus. I had a mature SD Biga and hadn’t found the perfect formula, so Abel’s 90% Biga was adopted and tweaked. The SD Biga used 76% Pre-fermented flour, 75% hydration, and 2.2% salt. The flavor was much more complex and ramped up noticeably (slightest hint of acetic), crust was nice, but not as thin as CY, and the crumb required a little more chew but not much more. IMO, it was a definite hit and will be further refined in the near future.


It is interesting to note that of the 4 bakes this one was the only one that got the “finger polk” treatment. All others rec’d no deflation at all.

Here is the spreadsheet for Bake #4 - Note, the original Giorilli (CY version) was tweaked. See video link for original version.

OH! I also like Alan’s floured “stretch marks” on the crust, so I copied him.

Danny

Doc suggested Ciabatta for the Community Bake. Good Call.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow, lot’s of interesting discoveries already.  Dan I too like the look of the stretch marks on the crust in Alan’s and your 4th bake.  They look like bark from a tree trunk and is a really good look.

So did you think that the finger poke (docking) did anything in particular to the crumb?

Benny

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Finger Polk - definitely! It seems to hvae more evenly distributed the holes. The dough quickly sprang in the oven and filled in the indents.

The flavor of Bake #4 is special. It is probably my best tasting Ciabatta ever.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

my ciabatta protocol have all been listed in my post above.  

  1. the three S&Fs in the BF tub, decreasingly going from aggressive to gentle, the first immediately after the dough being poured into the BF tub.  Then leaving the BF untouched for the final 40-60 min.  
  2. folding the (un-floured top side of the ) dough over onto itself when first dropped out of tub onto the well floured bench and then squaring it away.  
  3. creating the barrel shape as Scott MeGee does to provide a uniform less amorphous final shape. #s 2&3 ensure that when the loaves are divided, they will shape short enough for #4.
  4. roll the loaves over off the couche and stretch when moving from couche to baking peel.

Your sliced loaves for bakes 3&4, are the best looking and have the final appearance that I strive to achieve.  Rolling the dough over before placing it onto the oven peel, regardless of how the shaping is achieved, seems to ensure that any larger gaping holes typically found at the top of the loaf, are reduced in size and the overall crumb is more uniform.

To us, it is clear that a direct dough without pre-ferment is fairly insipid tasting, and although certainly quick, not worth the personal effort.  I understand that folks love the Jason ciabatta formula because it's easy and does the job, but it holds no interest for me.  The preferment is the key to flavor, and I've latched onto a levain version although I also like the biga version as well.

Nice going and I like seeing the 4 bakes stacked on top of each other for easy visual comparison.  Up up and away! 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Bake 4 looks great and I'm glad you enjoyed the SD Biga version. That's an excellent result considering some bakers struggle with this formula.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Mike, “I’ve seen the light”!
Ciabatta cries out for biga...

The flavor is iconic. Nothing (as far as Ciabatta) that I know of compares with the flavor.

Thanks for educating us to “Italian Ciabatta”. Up until now, I was making French Ciabatta <LOL>

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Wow the last bake looks perfect to me! And thank you for sharing the whole story of improvements.

I'd like to replicate the last one as a starting point for pure sourdough ciabatta, could you clarify the formula? Was it 90% prefermented flour in the final dough like in Abel's formula, but the biga itself had 76% of its flour prefermented? Or did you mean 76% flour prefermented in the biga?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ilya, here is the formula.

Total Dough
100% strong flour
75% water
2.2% salt

The biga used 76% of the total flour and the hydration was 50%. The biga was leavened with sourdough only. Commercial yeast was not used in this formula.

I will be setting up a spreadsheet the more closely adheres to Abel’s formula linked above. It will be posted soon.

Let me know if I can help.

Danny

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Perfect, thank you Dan! Does this look right, for 1000 g flour? https://fgbc.dk/vhl I like foodgeek's calculator, has useful functions. But doesn't allow 50% hydrated starter, so had to do 51% :)

The only variable you didn't mention was inoculation for the biga, I think.

(edit: fixed hydration to 75%)

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ilya, your calculations look correct. Good Luck. Hope you like the bread as much as I do.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Great, thank you, I'll try to set up the biga tomorrow night I think. Just converted the starter to low hydration this evening, and will give another feed tomorrow.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ilya, if low hydration starters are new for you, THIS LINK may provide some useful information.

Actually, the entire post is pertinent for this bread.

I noticed you are making a pretty large batch. I think you’ll find that the keeping qualities of a sd Biga will be much better than CY. And as the breads ages the flavor increases...

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Thank you, I've seen that thread but haven't read in detail yet, will check it out.

I just set it to 1000 g flour total for easier comparison, I wouldn't make such a huge batch when experimenting :) I'll probably make 800 g total for two 400 g ciabattas. But sourdough bread keeps very well, I agree - although I think adding whole grain helps a lot in this regard as well.

texas_loafer's picture
texas_loafer

poolish and 72% overall hydration. 100% bread flour.

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Ciabatta, cheese, flavored oil, pasta, and wine. I’m hungry...

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Red wine, ciabatta and cheese. Perfect affinities.

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Ciabatta with its high hydration allows for the making of some very light weight loaves. I think low density is characteristic of ciabatta. Above 4 cm3/g should be ideal.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

After Will posted Signore Giorilli's formula, I knew it was next up for me.  

Last night I created the 45% hydration biga.  It was a lot of work by hand.  I split up the workload by whisking the water and IDY together then I began adding in the flour a rounded soupspoon full at a time, continuing to whisk until I had to switch to hand mixing on the counter.  When that became too difficult and dry I just covered the work up for an hour to allow the flour to hydrate and then added the remaining 1/3 of the flour.  It was hard to do.  

Into the wine cooler overnight (too warm in the apartment here), which is set for the mid-50dF range, and then out on the counter this morning.  It looks a world different than others I've seen.  Much smoother here than elsewhere.

For the final mix, in went the water and flour, holding back 10% of the water for bassinage.  I cut up the biga into small chunks and began adding them to my Kitchen Aid mix with the dough hook, one at a time.  The biga did not want to play nice!  I had to squish the dough with my hand quite a bit to get it begin to incorporate.  After that it was smooth sailing to get the customary slapping and lifting and dropping of the dough to indicate completion of the mix.

Mixing difference between the levain and biga versions: Levain - room temperature water straight from the faucet and the dough temped at 75.5dF upon completion.  Biga - refrigerator water at ~38dF and the dough temped at 79dF.  This version took much more effort and mixing friction to complete the mix.  Cold water was a necessity.

From here I followed my standard M.O.  By the third fold, 80 min into the 2 hr BF, the dough was really soft and billowy. After the divide and shaping into short barrels, onto the couche to await their fate.  How to keep them shaped without spreading out?  Here's the secret...Press the barrel of a wine bottle against the couche to maintain their shape.

 

A 45 min proof.  These had an extensibility issue.  I couldn't easily extend their shape on the way from couche to peel as I otherwise do. The dough resisted and I wasn't going to get into an argument with it.  So these three ciabattas are shorter than my typical length.  They were also resistant to browning any darker, so I began the final 2 minute venting at the 30 min bake mark.

incredible crust with a soft and light crumb, although looking a little tight.  I can't tell you whether this was more flavorful than the last, as they are both really tasty and clean to the tongue.

Comparing the crumb from levain bake

330g x 3 ciabatta

I'm unsure whether all the work that went into building the biga was worth it, other than to experiment.  Maybe I'll change the biga hydration to something like 65% from 45% to see how that works out.  Regardless, I at least got to experiment with the "original" version.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Wow Alfonso great minds think alike i just worked out my dough for 1000g and got the biga started this morning and lo and behold turned on the TFL and its exactly what you have done. i too found the Biga resisting quite a bit and settled on leaving it for an hour and then giving it a little more work , which is the stage im at now. I've used some Caputo Classico and some multi grain mix in the biga and will need to go out for another bag of the Caputo later today.

Regards Derek 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I just watched the video link below in Ilya's comment, and it seems like I did it all wrong and why my finished biga looks so different from the others I've seen.  Completely overworked - both the biga ingredients as well as my hands.  As the vide states, the idea is to not create a gluten structure in the biga.  In that case, it is worth another try, and then see how the mixing step goes.

Well, isn't that part of the purpose of the CB?  To gather together a lot of disparate information to better understand a process?

Benito's picture
Benito

Thanks for sharing your tip of using wine bottles to support the couche on the ends, great tip.

Benny

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Why is the bigga so stiff?  I thought the instructions were to not have any gluten development in the bigga and I don't understand why that should be true either.  My impression is that the bassinage water is held back because if it is incorporated into the dough before the gluten is fully developed, then the gluten does not get developed without a lot more mixing. But I get acceptable results with a 60% hydration levain/bigga that is only 28% of the flour.  There is clearly an upper limit on how much of the flour can be in the bigga and that would appear to be around 80%. And why is that true?  I just do not do well when I am asked to follow instructions that are insufficiently rationalized. I am sure there is a reason, I just don't know what it is.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

After watching Ilya's link below, what you state does seem to be a key factor - avoiding the gluten development.  Apparently all we are looking for in the biga is the long slow development, and to avoid the type of development that I did.  In which case, I am sure to revisit the 45% hydration formula again.

As far as any rationalizations.  My first instinct is to follow a formula without trying to rationalize.  I don't need to always understand the underlying reasons behind something in order to proceed.  Personally I'm okay with that approach - for me.

Now, this may be the authentic biga or ciabatta biga, but that does not mean that I'm stuck on doing it this way going forward.  If that were the case, I'd have to throw out a large part of my baking repertoire.  I bake more for my pleasure and the craft itself, but by no means need I adhere to an original formula - which I almost never do anyway.

And here, as I just stated in the prior comment, is the strength of the CB.  Where we can all gather together to attempt to understand a process and foster improvements with our "herd mentality".

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Some nice looking ciabatte there alan. I commend your efforts wrestling with this but as you are coming to realise this formula can be pulled off more effortlessly with further bakes I am sure.

Danny asked me to contribute an authentic formula but I knew from day one this could present some challenges. Firstly Giorilli's formula is designed with Italian flours in mind. North American (NA) wheat differs to European and Italian wheat in a number of ways, not just protein %. The Biga pre-ferment is often used to gain more strength something NA wheat flour really doesn't need more of. Specifically a biga will help to increase tenacity and allow for elevated hydration in the final dough. And apart from the differences in raw materials there will be I presume a certain unfamiliarity with this formula and process.

I hope you're not too disheartened and will attempt this again soon. A good result nonetheless!


Michael

albacore's picture
albacore

Michael, what you say makes sense, but the thought occurs to me that Italian bakers often recommend Manitoba flour for biga. As I understand it, Manitoba flour normally comes from grain grown in the USA. So aren't we Europeans actually using US flour, at least partially, in our ciabattas?

And maybe if our American baking friends can find the "right" homegrown flour, it could be just perfect for a biga, no?

Lance

Benito's picture
Benito

Lance, Manitoba is actually a Canadian province so Manitoba flour should be from Manitoba Canada, unless the name is being used differently than I had always assumed.  However, your point is still true, it should be quite a strong flour with typically high protein like most flour grown here.

albacore's picture
albacore

Although Manitoba is in Canada, I have read that most grain for Manitoba flour is grown in the USA. It's a strange world, isn't it?

Lance

Benito's picture
Benito

OK that’s just wrong LOL.

Benny

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

has a picture of the US flag on the front of the package.

http://www.mulinocaputo.it/en/flour/la-linea-professionale/manitoba

I suppose they are using the word as a category or type of flour, not as a place of origin.

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Quite right my friend. The Italians simply use the word "Manitoba" to describe flours that are what we might describe as "strong". I don't think there are any regulations on this but I believe the flour must be W350 or higher to be classed as "Manitoba", regardless of what blends or origins of wheat are in the mix.

Italians have long looked up to, and probably dreamed about the wheat that was grown in North America (the continent). Historically, the wheats grown in Italy were very weak, due in-part to overuse of the land causing nutrient depletion.

"Manitoba" symbolises that yearn for strong flour because huge yields of high quality wheat have been and still are grown there.

albacore's picture
albacore

It's interesting to compare the Italians' use of strong flour when available with the situation in France, where the flour is also generally weak, but back in the day the government decreed that all flour had to be made from homegrown wheat.

Lance

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Interesting indeed. Our approach here in the UK was to cross-breed English cultivars with Canadian ones, while still importing from Canada for specialist flours, and so it is the case unto to this day.

Can't do much about the climate here though!

albacore's picture
albacore

Pre WW1, the other highly sought after strong flour for British bakers was that made from Hungarian wheat.

Lance

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I forgot to mention that another solution to weak flours in France was the wide and accepted use of ascorbic acid.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Indeed the stronger wheat flours available in Italy are cut with North American wheats. And those that are very strong may be wholly North American in origin. The same applies here in the UK. My staple white flour of choice from Marriage's (Essex, UK) is their "superfines", which is a blend of traditional English varieties and some Canadian wheat. It is refined, somewhere between 00 and 0 and strong but balanced, perfect for my purposes.

I digress, to my point, Italian millers produce flours to meet very exact specifications. For nearly all white flours, particularly from common wheat, it is important that they achieve a good balance of tenacity vs extensibility, i.e. P/L = 0.55, or there abouts. During milling they can control flour particles size and pay much attention to the formulation to create a product that meets the spec.

Manitoba flours are often type 0 and use the heart of the grain.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

about a thing or two (close to a R. DeNiro line - This Boy's Life) in the past 6 hours.  Ilya posted a link below for a 45% hydr. biga in the making.  Already mixed it and it will be awaiting a full ciabatta mix tomorrow.  Without this guidance, I'd still be thinking I did it correctly.  

I use King Arthur AP flour at 11.7% protein, and in general as stated somewhere earlier in this CB, I've made consistent ciabatte as above, with supermarket brands, tritordeum, higher hydration. biga, now this 45% version, and my usual go-to - 100% hydr. AP levain.  So the task at hand doesn't faze me, nor does the idea that I might not have the correct flour, I seem to usually make-do with what I have ;-) .  This was a learning lesson, well experienced and now learned!

I like having the experience of making the Giorilli formula, why wouldn't I?  Although as mentioned I will usually go off the rails and take formulae in my own direction anyway.  And as can be well evidenced in both the baguette CB and already developing in this one, there is a lot of group-think and support going on around here.

Thanks for your kind words and support, alan

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Biga video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IzCbv97Tn8

No way my flour would get hydrated so easily! I should have tried it with Italian 00 maybe.

Benito's picture
Benito

Thanks for sharing that video, he makes it look easy.

I haven’t made a biga for my ciabatta, I wanted to see how a 100% hydration levain recipe would work.  I should be baking it later today the dough is in cold retard en bulk and will need some bench final proofing today.

I decided to try Joy Ride Coffee’s formula with a few changes making it all AP flour except for the levain.

Benny

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I made a biga yesterday and just mixed the dough. I'll report later how it goes. I find it very tricky to monitor fermentation in 50% hydration starter that I used for more authenticiy, and same for the biga - not much happens over a very long time...

alfanso's picture
alfanso

A demonstration of my own misunderstanding of what a mature 45% hydration biga process is and what the result should be.  Back to the drawing board, or at least the mixing bowl.

alan

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I found it nearly impossible to avoid some gluten development when making a biga with bread flour yesterday. I don't think it's possible with non-Italian flour, maybe only 00 would work like that. Let's hope we figure it out here!

Benito's picture
Benito

That being the case, would making a biga be better by using a lower protein flour?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

That would be my uneducated guess - but also it should withstand a very long fermentation time...

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

That's why I was thinking 00 flour. It can be still relatively high protein, but it works well with lower hydration, and finer particles get hydrated easier. My hypothesis, at least...

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I love Vito Iacopelli - he is fearless about giving you the secrets of how to do whatever he is teaching. And he has tons of useful, interesting YouTube videos that you can watch.  He usually does them in both English and Italian.

The point that Vito makes is that you don't want to develop any gluten in the process of making the biga, and one way to do that is to make sure that there is no "dough" produced in the process.  But 45% hydration does not seem to be part of that spec, just not enough water to make a dough.  And the way he does it is by pouring the water over the flour and just shaking them together until the water is absorbed.  But depending on the flour you are using that might be 43% or 35% or 48% or 55%, just use what it takes.  The remainder of the water needed to make it up to (in his case) 65% hydration is worked in after the biga has fermented (1 hr at room temp then 24 hr @ 4°C).  And the salt is dissolved into the water before the water is bassinaged into the biga, and then a little bit of additional reserved water is added at the end to finish.  And you can mix in the water in by hand or by machine.

The lesson I take away is that you want to preferment all of the flour (at least partially) without developing any gluten when you make the biga.  And then you develop the gluten as you add the salted water to raise the hydration from 45% to 65% (or from wherever you start, up to wherever you finish - 80% in the case of ciabatta).

My suspicion is that 55% might be fine if you are careful not to develop any gluten (which means you have no unabsorbed water when you make the biga - which is probably a fairly wide margin depending on your specific flour).

He uses 0.15% IDY to make the biga and then adds another 0.15% IDY when he adds the salt and bassinages in the remaining water and develops the gluten. And then he ferments it for another hour before dividing.  After dividing and shaping he then lets it ferment for another two hours before he makes pizza out of it.  If he was making ciabatta it would then go to the oven, but the process might be to just shape the ciabatta instead of making pizza balls which would mean perhaps three hours of final fermentation (probably until it is ready depending on the temperature and the yeast and all of the other process steps that determine how long it takes to be ready for the oven).

The same method could no doubt be used to make baguettes [think 100% hydration levain, and a 10hr cold autolyse at 60% hydration with a little IDY (or none)].  There would be almost no gluten developed until you combine the autolysed flour and the levain, then you develop the gluten, ferment the mixed dough for a couple of hours before dividing then 35 min rest before shaping then another hour or so before baking.  Sound familiar? Adjust for the flour you have.

albacore's picture
albacore

I'm probably being picky, but Vito's biga looks farinosa (floury) to me (I'm learning all the Italian jargon!). One of the biga sins, apparently.

More biga resources here and here.

 

Lance

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

See here for all of my Ciabatta CB bakes

I've tried Maurizio's ciabatta recipe before the CB 3 times, and was never satisfied with the result. So was quite keen to sort it out.

I followed Dan's 4th bake recipe. Here is the formula: https://fgbc.dk/vi6

Over two feeds I converted my 100% hydration rye starter into a 50% hydration BF starter. I found it tricky to monitor fermentation in it, since the growth was with such low hydration is not that obvious... So if i am being honest, I couldn't be sure in the strength of the starter, bit just went ahead hoping for the best. I made a ~50% hydration biga in the evening and let it ferment for 13 hours at RT (which is higher than recommended 14-16°C, but overnight it probably got close to that). Here is what it looked like:

Here is what it looked like in the morning when I was about to use it (the whiter parts is where I poked it a bit to see what was going on):

It certainly got much softer, but didn't have a particularly strong smell, slight acidity.

Did some slap&folds, left for 30 min. Did more slap&folds with wet hands/surface, so increased the hydration a bit addiitonally. Left for 30 min.

4x stretch&folds each 30 min mark.

Then 1.5 hrs bulk after that. Dough felt light and puffy, but not bubbly.

Divided in two and shaped into rough tubes, similar to what was shown in a video above.

Here they are on the couche:

Proofed in the fridge for a bit due to life, then took out and proofed for a bit more, until (I think) it was mostly done, and preheated the oven.

Stretched them out when moving to the peel, dimpled with fingers and baked with steam at 250°C on steel. Here made one of the stupidest mistakes and pushed one ciabatta too far and it partially slid off the steel... So the end was hanging off, stretching with heating and eventually burning off, very sad.

Baked for 20 min with steam and further 17 min without.

And here is what I got, not very exciting - you can see the burned end on one of them:

And here is the crumb from the one that I pushed too far:

I'll share if the other one, or the other end of this one, looks different.

Taste is quite nice, the crust is thin and somewhat crispy. But is it even ciabatta? Not very open at all!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Some areas are really quite dense. Maybe I didn't properly mix the biga into the final dough? Or underproofed?

The taste is good though, can taste the sourness. And my girlfriend liked it, actually.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Hi Ilya,

Not too surprised that the crumb didn't open.  My understanding is that ciabatta dough must be intensively mixed, creating a very strong gluten network.  The resultant dough coming out of my mixer is very stretchy, wet looking and glistens.  I don't think just a set or two of French Folds will cut it.

Also, and I don't know whether you did this, but the stretch and folds should be increasingly soft and gentle.  By the time that BF terminates, the dough in the container should be quite delicate and for the most part, very different than any other dough we work with.  

I think that 250dC is too hot, maybe drop down to 240 or 235dC.Looking forward to the next bake.  Troopers like you and Benny catch on really quickly.

alan 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Thanks for the comments Alan!

I don't have a mixer, so have to make do with what I can! Should I do like 150x2 Slap & Folds? This dough wasn't super high hydration either, it felt quite developed to me, but maybe ciabatta requires a different level of gluten than usually?

I felt the dough getting more supple, so was more gentle later on. But again, if everything should be really special, maybe I didn't do it right either, I don't know.

OK, I'll drop the temp down a notch next time! With the steel especially, it get a lot of heat into the dough very quickly.

I'll keep working on this. Baguettes got mostly solved after one round of comments from the knowledgeable gurus here, I'm sure the ciabattas will give up eventually!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

about how to do this without a mixer, perhaps a search around TFL and elsewhere will lead you to an answer.  It may be hard to do as it is next to impossible to over-mix a dough with French Folds, but that is pretty close to what (my understanding) we are looking for with a ciabatta.  

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mixing+ciabatta+dough+by+hand

Also Mukgling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BjMBavA4g0 .  She's fabulous and used to post on TFL once in a while.

Benito's picture
Benito

Based on what you know of ciabattas then Alan, do you think that my ciabattas were underdeveloped?  I hand mixed using slap and folds, then lamination and coil folds.  I didn’t feel that the dough was underdeveloped.

I do have a mixer, but I worry about wearing the mechanism prematurely by mixing bread dough intensively, it is only a KA and I’ve read that the plastic gears will wear quickly if using it for bread dough and even moderate speeds.  So I’ve been hesitant to do formulas that seem to require mechanical mixing.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

which may, in reality, not be reality! - 

Underproofed doughs will have weak(er) gluten structure where the overly active yeast, now in a death spiral feeding frenzy will burst through the gluten network and create large caverns throughout the bread while still supporting the outer dimensions of the crust.  

Overproofed dough will have yeast that no longer has food to support its gas producing qualities and the dough may somewhat or completely collapse as the crust gelatinizes, or the crust sets and then there are gaps immediately under it as the dough settles while it bakes.

At least that is my belief as of now.  Here's our "sourdough journey" guy with visuals of under & overproofed loaves explaining it at paint-drying speeds.

My Kitchen Aid mixer is the better part of 40 years old, and likely has metal gears.  The only bread dough I mix in it is for a ciabatta or pan de cristal, so the hydration is pretty high.  I've never had that problem of the more recent KAs having their geas stripped.  So I can't recommend that anyone else necessarily try this, only reporting on what my mixer can do.

Look at Mukgling's process.  PS I think Mukgling is a him and not a her.

Benito's picture
Benito

Prior to the many posting here about biga I had already decided I’d try a non biga ciabatta recipe.  One of the people I follow on YouTube, Joy Ride Coffee has a formula up that I decided to give a go.  I decided to make the ciabatta with a 12% white flour I have left over from an early baguette bake and only used whole grain in the levain.  The levain itself is my usual 100% hydration.

Flour and water mixed and autolyse x 1 hour.

Levain added (8% pre-fermented flour) and given 30 min rest.

Bassinage adding salt and enough water to bring hydration up to 80% and then olive oil added followed by slap and folds x 250. Followed by 1 hour rest

one Lamination then 3 sets of coil folds at 45 min intervals.

Unsure how far to take bulk fermentation I ended it at 25% (probably a mistake) and the dough went into cold retard until the following day.

RT bench rest x 1 hour then divide and shape.  I snapped into a log, uncertain if that is appropriate for a ciabatta.  Rested in the couche seam side up for 1.5 hours until finger poke left a small dent only popping back up slowly and partially.

Baked at 480ºF with steam for 13 mins and then 420ºF convection without steam until golden brown.

One ciabatta split on top, which I wasn’t expecting.  This made me think that they may have been underproofed and I think they were somewhat.

The crust is quite thin and crisp while the crumb has a tender chew compared to most sourdough I make.  The flavour is alright, I think that the Quebec flour at 10% protein has better flavour, it certainly is more yellow in colour.

Here is my wine bottle helper (cheap wine I’ll never drink is good for something finally)

alfanso's picture
alfanso

and curious how you got a consistent barrel shape.  

Underproofed? This webpage from Serious Eats should interest you...

"I shaped into a log, uncertain if that is appropriate for a ciabatta. "  Let's see now.  Do you want hamburger rolls? - if so, it is a terrible shape for a ciabatta.  Do you want sandwich slices? - a good shape although the crumb is, er um, not right and a tad too open ;-) .  Do you want a ciabatta that can be placed into a dinner basket, sliced and ready to dip into olive oil for example? - yes, correct shape.  Do you want to make bruschetta? - again a good shape. ...

A personal taste, I dislike ciabatta that is flatland way wider than tall.  

Ya want open crumb ciabatta?  I'll raise your bid!  from my earliest days 7 years ago...

This example of mine is really not good.  The crust is dandy and the barrel shaping is there already, but the crumb is not desirable in the least.

alan

 

Benito's picture
Benito

I shaped these almost like I pre-shape the baguette dough.  Then 1.5 hour proofing in the couche with your idea of the wine bottle to support one side helped them to their final shape.

I’m really unsure what ciabatta crumb and crust should look like.  Unlike baguettes which I’d eaten many before, I don’t think I’ve even eaten a good ciabatta and even then rarely ate a ciabatta.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

folks, and there ain't nuttin' wrong with that.  I like a really open crumb ciabatta myself.  But as I found out, one can make a fabulous ciabatta with very modest sized holes.  To me, the key to a great ciabatta (as though I'm an expert, not) is the thin crisp crust, and the very light (weight) soft interior with that "classic" ciabatta sweet and clean flavor.

Good luck making a ciabatta for bruschetta with giant open crumb.  You'll be eating the food off your lap!

If you eat a good ciabatta then you'll know that nothing about it is similar to other breads we eat (except maybe for pan de cristal, but that crust shatters when bitten into).

The holes in ciabatta crumb remind me of guitar leads - the space between the notes can be just as important as the notes played.

Benito's picture
Benito

Thanks again for your helpful feedback Alan.

I will give this a go again with the same formula and push bulk further, I think I ended it too soon.  I’d like the crumb to look less underproofed, some more moderate holes and more evenly distributed without the denser areas is what I’ll strive for.

The crust is good, I really liked how thin and crisp it is.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I have not run this experiment so I would appreciate any guidance that I can get about what to expect.

Suppose I make up a batch of ciabatta dough by whatever means I happen to choose, and divide it into two parts.  One part gets a letter fold and is placed seam side up in a couche, supported by wine bottles or 4x4s or a U-shaped pan, so that it has about a 1:1 aspect ratio while proofing. The other half gets the letter fold and is placed on a couche, again seam up, but is not supported on the sides during proof (allowed to flatten out  driven by gravity and constrained by dough strength).

Both ciabatta are inverted and docked when they are loaded on the pans and baked using the same oven cycle (whether together or sequentially depends on other things but the objective is to give them as close to the same experience in the oven as I can arrange).

Can we predict in advance what the differences will be in the cross section and character of the baked ciabatta and explain why we expect that outcome?

It seems to me that when you invert the supported loaf onto the pan it is immediately exposed to the same forces that were causing the unsupported ciabatta to spread out. And when the oven heats the surface of the dough, the internal thermal environment is only slightly different between the two (depending to some extent on exactly how long it takes to get them from the couche into the oven).  Then once the trapped CO2 begins to expand and the surface begins to set, the ciabatta behaves like a balloon and expands, constrained by the tension in the crust so that it tends to want to form a shape which minimizes the ratio of surface area to volume (spherical or cylindrical depending on the exact shape of the loaf). As it expands, the tendency to split open depends a lot on the thermal and dough properties, but the final height to width ratio could be the same or may be different. 

The question is "should we expect the supported ciabatta to be significantly more barrel-shaped than the one that is unsupported?"

True or false?  And why?

Benito's picture
Benito

I’d think that the ciabatta supported during its time in the couche should be more significantly barrel-shaped than the unsupported one.  I believe that its 3D gluten matrix and distribution of gases has been set in this shape and spent time in this shape so that even with temporary flattening from the transfer, it will “remember” its shape better than the ciabatta that spent no time in a barrel-shape.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

A sample size of three indicates that the diameter of the finished ciabatta is dependent on the circumference of the dough piece that goes into the oven.  There was a small increase in the circumference of each loaf but not a lot (~5-15%) - though the whole batch was mostly lacking in bread-making characteristics and both the supported and unsupported loaves resulted in an un-ciabatta-like crumb (moderately sour and chewy but tasty).  And there remains a fairly long list of "should have"s that will be addressed in the future.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

I took the bit between the teeth and decided to give this one a go  my first Community bake and my first use of a Biga. I had some Italian Caputo Classico flour that i thought should be perfect , as it was i didnt have enough so added some multigrain for the biga. I worked out i would make a 1 kg dough and was pleased to see Alfonso posting his 1 kg batch.  I too made the biga up by hand and probably put more into it than i needed to. The Biga was left at room temperature from 9.30am to 6.30 am  so 21 hours.