I've been trying to make ciabatta for almost two weeks now (this is the first time I've ever tried so
obsessi determinedly to bake something), and I don't really understand what's happening with the dough.
Here's my attempt for today, which was much more successful than usual.
I used the formula here (http://xrl.us/bmvec) which uses a very wet Poolish and I think works out to 92% hydration. (And I also added some olive oil and substituted some rye and whole-wheat flour into the poolish.)
I mixed the dough with the paddle at medium speed (#4 on a KitchenAid) until it formed a ball 3 or 4 minutes later. And then I let it spin for another minute or two, but it didn't seem to be accomplishing anything at that point. I did two stretch-and-folds while it was rising. (Had intended to do more, but got distracted.) And then I did a sort of abbreviated letter fold to shape it into a rectangle.
So anyway, the crumb turned out much more open and more evenly distributed than my earlier attempts (which tended to have a few biggish holes in the top half of the loaf, but lots of dense patches) and it's kind of moist and shiny/gauzy. I think I love it. Although it seems like ideally it ought to have fewer, bigger, better-defined holes instead of these sheets and strands all over the place.
What I'm wondering is whether this particular texture is due to the high hydration? (I hadn't tried anything higher than about 83% previously.) Or whether it's because the dough was on the underdeveloped side? Or something else... ? This is close enough to what I was after that I don't want to change the wrong thing!