The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ciabatta's blog

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It's been a while since I've made this ciabatta that is based on Reinhart's Poolish Ciabata recipe in The Baker's Apprentice.  Happy to see that it's as reliable as ever for me.  This is based off of Reinhart's Poolish Ciabatta.  modifications include addition of oil and process changes.

320g bread flour
340g room @70F  (or cooler if in warm climate)
pinch of Dry Instance Yeast (I literally, use two fingers to pinch some yeast for this. it doesnt register on my scale)

For a long overnight build of the poolish, not very much yeast is used.  dissolve yeast in water and add in flour and mix using a silicon spatula. due to high hydration, very easy to mix.  cover and rest for about 8 hours.  Nothing will happen for the first few hours. but when done should be a bubbly slurry.  

Final Dough

660g Poolish
380g bread flour  (12% protein Harvest King flour used here for both poolish and final)
15g salt
5g Instant Dry Yeast
165g water

15g extra virgin olive oil (added to lube proofing container)

Mix in KA mixer for 5 minutes - 165g water, 5g yeast, 660g poolish, 380g bread flour, 15g salt - I add the ingredients in that order

-add 15g evoo into container and spread
-dump mixed contents into proofing container, cover (i use a pyrex glass bowl)
-cover for an hour, dont mix or fold yet, oil will stay on bottom to keep from sticking

(after an hour)
- do a set of stretch and fold, pick up from all sides to fold towards middle, this should get olive oil coated over entire dough
- do a set of coil folds after that

do two more sets of coil folds every 50 minutes, about 68F here (30 mins if warmer) to relax and build glutten. 

after first set of folds here, already have some air pockets, but dough surface tears easily

after second set, noticeably more air bubbles in there and gluten is developing

after 3rd set, surface tension is good, stronger and shiny. its a bag of bubbles.  very jiggly.

Rest for 30 minutes and the divide.  The total  dough was about 1230g. so i get 3 doughs of 410g each.

Handle delicately and don't deflate.  it's ok to chop little pieces to get the weigh right but minimize that as much as possible.

the dough is super light and airy. you can see the bubbles bump up throughout.  pop and bubbles that are too large.  I try to use as little dusting flour as possible. do an envelop fold and get the dough balls into a nice boule shape. If you want more of a flour streaked crust, roll in a lot of flour now.  i just dust the bottom a bit.

at this point it still looks a lot like the traditional ciabattas with some reminants of the letter fold. Preheat Oven at 500F. I let it rest for about 30 minutes to an hour.

after resting, pop any large bubbles on the surface. and tuck ends and sides to a better rectangle shape. roll them over onto parchment.

stretch and nudge each into a flat rectangle.  dimple it down gently. dont worry about flattening it, it will bounce back.

Prep the oven for steam.

this is my setup.  couple of steam boxes on the stone and also flat pan underneath stone on oven floor.

I pour hot water into the steam boxes, load the dough, and add hot water to steam pan underneath. a few spritzes of water into oven and close door.

(I did a timelapse of the oven rise... have to figure out how to load it on here...)

about 20 minutes later i oven oven door to vent moisture.  10 minutes in you should see some darkening of the crust where the bubbles are. that will darken over time.

change temp to 450F and bake another 20 minutes or until consistent crust color.

when done, the crust is very very delicate, puffy and crispy.  it will soften and shrink as it cools. you will notice the air pocket bubbles bump up.

the loaves should feel very light.  my 410g dough bakes to a 350g loaf. (It loses ~1g of steam as it cools!) maybe because it is so light and airy, they actually cool in about 30 minutes.

Super light and airy and bouncy crust.  if you cut it after 30 mins of cooling you'll still get a little crunch on the crust.
I could have stretch this and flatten it a bit more to get a better sandwich loaf.  But i like this too, but no taller.

Grilled pork and egg sandwich.

I had used AP flour previously with success for an even more delicate version.

I love this bread for how light it is and that you can squish it down and it will bounce all the way back up. The crust is thin and crispy (if you eat shortly after bake) and the crumb is soft and creamy.

Hope you like it and give it a try.

Sourdough hybrid version to come.





ciabatta's picture

Got a bit ambitious yesterday and did a 12 loaf bake. 4 types of Sourdoughs, 3 loaves each.  Just want to share my process that I feel pretty good about now and is quite streamlined.  These are about 650g - 800g each.

1) Country Sourdough

2) Cranberry Walnut

3) Chocolate Hazelnut with Raisins 

4) Seeded Sourdough (Flaxseed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed)

Getting pretty comfortable with making these now, and know the dough by feel rather than time. Streamlining the process and very repeatable.  

In the morning, I setup 4 Weck jars for my levain and let them get just above doubling.  I dont worry too much about how much starter I use with each jar. the more starter, the faster the levain matures.  anything between 10-40g starter and i just add in enough flour/water to make the target 200g levain and depending on ratio of starter, it will mature faster or slower.  

When levain is ready, I mix the levain with flour, water and even salt all at once in the KA mixer for a few minutes and then empty into large Pyrex glass bowl with lid. Repeat for all 4 doughs.  I used to fermentolyse and add in salt 30 minutes later with some withheld water. but that means the dough would have to go into the mixer twice.  To streamline, I just mixed in one go.  Do not notice much difference.  30 - 50 min rest.  3 folds to 4 folds.  Add-ins go in after 2nd fold (before passing window pane test, it integrates better and more evenly the sooner you add them in). 

When dough is ready and passes window pane (doesnt need to be super strong otherwise too chewy). i leave it to final bulk for about 1-2 hours. About 20-30% volume increase.  bubbly and just starting to get jiggly. divide each batch into 3 loaves by weight. Too much proofing here will result in reduced oven spring.  Preshape on count using water spray and wet hands.  15-20 minute rest on counter (not covered).  slight dusting of rice flour on top of dough balls and on counter for final shape. slight dusting again on shaped dough and put into paper bowls. I do not dust the bowls.

I'm using my paper pulp bowls with lids as brotforms / bannetons to hold for overnight cold retard. I can really fit a lot of these in the fridge.  12 was no problem. 

Baked next day.  I've done between 4 hours in the fridge to 16 hours in the fridge all with good success.  After 4 hours the dough is not as firm as overnight, so more delicate when scoring and loading into oven.

I can bake 3 at a time in my oven. 2 batards in Lodge combo cooker/dutch ovens. and 1 smaller boule under a claypot.  All of these on top of a baking stone.  dough straight out of fridge. give it a little tuck to even out the shape a bit, score and go into preheated oven.  20 minutes covered @ 500F.  20-25 minutes uncovered with convection @ 450F.  i put the cover of the dutch oven back under the base during the uncovered segment. this way, they stay hot for the next batch. I can do a batch in just over 45 minutes. no reheat necessary between sets.  For the 4 batches from first set in to last set out was just over 3 hours for me.

Dough looks funny and rectangular coming out of the bowl, but you wouldnt know from the finished loaves. I'm actually preferring these bowls to my bannetons now.  just much easier and cleaner and i hardly use any rice flour dusting.  They have a non-stick texture and doughs come out clean. I dont need to bag them because they have a lid. and after 10+ uses, they're still good as new.  I wonder if i'll ever go back to the bannetons.  Maybe for the larger loaves or if i want a fancier appearance with the rattan circle lines on it.


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My 2nd attempt at a seed loaf.  First attempt was too ambitious (with sunflower, pumpkin, quinoa, oats and sesame) using Hamelmann 5 grain levain formula and turned out to be a salty wet mess due to soaker hydration issues.

This one I kept to my standard SD formula with adjustments from 16% to 30% whole wheat. Added a soaker of course ground bulgur and a cold soaker of flaxseed.

Dough seemed just a little bit loose but preshape and shaping went well.  after overnight cold retard, dough firmed up and didn't spread, which was what i was afraid of.

20 minutes covered in oven. much better spring than i anticipated from a loaded 30% WW.

nearly 30 minutes uncovered. i think i should have gone on for another 10 minutes. maybe at reduced heat. not quite enough color on the crust.

Crumb was good. it bit of moisture left (should have baked 10 more mins). But acceptable. I don't think i get any of the bulgur texture in the crumb, but on the crust, they add some good flavor and crunch.  maybe i should do a shorter soak.   the flaxseeds were interesting. making a gel envelop during the soak. next batch will be slightly lower hydration, longer bake, and a bit more salt and maybe a touch of honey.  For some reason i mentally expect more salty taste on a seed bread.

ciabatta's picture

Just baked FoodGeek’s Chocolate Hazelnut sourdough. At first going through the recipe I thought it might be too rich/decadent for my taste. But I was wrong. It was just the right amount of richness/decadence. 
Very highly recommended. 


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