First bake from Bertinet's 'Crust'
This past Sunday I was in the book store browsing...where else.. but through the cooking section. One of the books that interested me the most was Richard Bertinet's 'Crust', in particular for some of the unique recipes in it. It also included a DVD of Bertinet demonstrating his techniques for hand mixing and kneading brioche and levain. The book has some very good photography as well and the price was reasonable so I went for it. Mr. Bertinet has been mentioned a fair bit lately on TFL so I was curious to see what I could learn from him. While the book is not particularly technical, primarily being meant for an advanced home baker I think, his methods are that of an expert baker who has a clear and easy style of explaining a formula or procedure.
When I mentioned in a thread on Sunday http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19547/richard-bertinet-wins-major-uk-award  that I'd picked up the book a couple of members replied mentioning that they had it as well and thought it was a good one to have, although they both thought the hydration for his Ciabatta formula was too low. I looked at it and didn't think it seemed out of range but decided to try it for myself and see. Now normally I'm not a real stickler for being exact when it comes to scaling water, but going more for the feel of the dough as described by the author or any included photos. This time though I weighed out all the ingredients right to the specified gram and followed his times and oven temps fairly close as well. Of the half dozen or so ciabattas I've made over the last eight months I think this is one of the better ones. It may be partially due to having used a lower protein flour (10%) for this one than I have in the past or maybe because I spent more time developing it by hand than I normally do, but whatever the reason it made a good loaf. The crust is fairly thin and splintery and the crumb while being a bit more open than I prefer, has a good chew to it for an all white bread. The flavour is just what I expect a ciabatta to taste like, wheaty, toasty, with a bit of richness from the extra virgin olive oil coming through. Very tasty!