My First Ciabatta
I made my first attempt at Ciabatta and overall I am pleased with my results. I used Hamelman's "Ciabatta with Poolish" recipe. I followed it pretty strictly with few exceptions.
For the mixing of the poolish and the initial incorporation of all the ingredients the following day I mixed by hand using my fingers. I followed that up with about a five minute mix on second speed with my Bosch Compact Kitchen Machine. (the recipe calls for a 3 minute mix on first speed to incorporate ingredients and a 3.5 to 4 minute mix on second speed for a commercial spiral mixer). I am still far from having a good feel as to when the dough is mixed enough, so I am trying to err on the side of undermixing a bit.
From there, I followed Hamelmans direction to the letter for bulk fermentation, folding, dividing and final proof. I didn't use any oil in the tupperware proofing box I used for bulk fermentation and this made removing it for the two folds a bit difficult. I was afraid to incorporate oil into the dough and alter the results. Am I being overly cautious about this?
Also, as you will see below, I had much difficulty with the final handling of the dough. The recipe callls for final proofing good side down and then flipping it over to load into oven. That final flip didn't go so well and turned out to be more a 3/4 roll. This caused some flour to be folded into the loaf resulting in gray streaks and some crumb compression. I definately need to work on that skill.
Here are the two loaves already cut. I think I got a nice open crumb and excellent color as well. Definately my most succesful attempt so far at artisan bread. The color was definately darker than previously white loaves I have baked. I attribute this to the poolish and careful handling.
A closer look at the crumb. You can clearly see where the flour got folded into the dough a bit. I also had an excessive amount of flour on the outside of the loaves. I am going to try and cut down on that a bit on my next go around. The loaf with greater spring was baked on a stone. The slightly flatter loaf was baked on metal cookie sheet.
All in all, the flavor and texture was excellent in both loaves. I am very happy with the results and I definately learned a few things. I think I am going to try Hamelman's Pain Rustique next. It looks very similar with slightly less hydration. I know people often say stick with the same recipe until you master it, but I am learning quite a bit and enjoying jumping around a bit.