This weekend I was very happy to find Harvest King Flour at my local grocery. I used Harvest King in my baking classes, and convinced my boss to use it at the bakery I helped start up. I liked its creamy color, and that it was formulated for longer, cooler rises and artisan breads. I'm hoping to find the retail variety similar in quality--so far, so good.
Since Mountaindog has inspired me to look at the Artisan Baking book (I think I'll just start calling it ABAA!), I re-read the ciabatta recipe and found it different than most. Like the Essential Columbia recipe, it has a little wheat and rye flour, and uses a firm pre-ferment (this time a biga). I've been using a wet poolish (or my sourdough levain).
I was pretty good at following the ciabatta formula, though I did use a little more yeast as it's cold here and things have been moving slowly in my house. Of interest, the recipe calls for dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in a cup of water, and then using only a teaspoon of that liquid! I felt it was safe to use an entire tablespoon of the yeast-water--and my biga did perform pretty much as described (just about tripled in size in 24 hours at cool room temperature). Actually it could have been more developed, it was risen but not very light or airy once I pulled it apart. The dough in the formula is described as "gloopy" and they're not kidding. I thought I had my ciabatta dough wet enough in the past, but this was extreme--nearly batter. There's no way I could have benched this as I normally do, so I left it in the bowl for several "turns" (which were in fact more like stirring with a spatula). After a few turns it was starting to develop into dough--much like the NYT no knead bread in texture. The last turn I could do on a floured bench, and I returned it to the bowl for another hour or so of rising. I divided it into four loaves (instead of 2 per the recipe) and made an error in my final proofing--I forgot to put the seam-side down. So, my final loaves were baked 2 seam down, and 2 seam up to compare. In any case I was very happy with the results:
I forgot to take a "crumb shot" but the texture was much better--larger holes, but not too large or out of control. We had roast beef sandwiches for dinner which were literally to die for :) I do like the flavor I get from using the levain, so I might try that next time, with the new techniques learned on this batch!
Also on the hearth this day was a batch of Vermont Sourdough (as I have BREAD checked out from the library):
Apparently trying to video yourself scoring loaves causes some performance problems! I'm going to try to compile a video of slashing and find a way to post the edited version---Anyway, this loaf has some nice ears but the round loaf behind it has a definite "blow-out" that I've conveniently hidden from view!