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redivyfarm's picture

My mission has been to get large, glossy holes in a bread like the wonderful examples I have been admiring. I achieved some degree of success with the NYT no knead recipe this weekend. I followed the recipe faithfully and even used the floured cotton towel technique. The soft dough stuck to the cotton, but not too badly. There was no problem with the bread sticking to the dutch oven. It pulled away from the sides as it baked.  I did leave it in the oven long enough to scorch the bottom a bit in an attempt to get a deeper brown top crust.

Dutch Oven loaf

Dutch Oven loaf

Dutch Oven crumb

Dutch Oven crumb

I used grocery store bread flour this baking as opposed to the high gluten flour and added vital gluten I have been baking with.

I tested my simple ciabatta recipe once again flavored with extra unrefreshed starter. I consider this a yeast recipe rather than a hybrid because the old starter I used had very little leavening potential but a super flavor. Again it yielded a tasty batch with a slightly more open crumb than last week's baking. Maybe my folding is improving!

Simple Ciabatta- 2

Simple Ciabatta- 2

The recipe is as follows-

Simple Ciabatta- INGREDIENTS-
  • For Sponge 
  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3/8 cup of old starter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 scant cup bread flour
  •  For Bread
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  1. To Make Sponge: In a small bowl stir together 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast and the 2T warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, 2T water, 3/8 cup starter and 1scant cup of the bread flour. Stir 4 minutes, then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. To Make Bread: In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.) Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425-450 F (220 degrees C).
  5. Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment to a rimless baking sheet with a long side of loaf parallel to far edge of baking sheet. Line up far edge of baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles, and tilt baking sheet to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone or tiles. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool loaves on a wire rack.
redivyfarm's picture

Ah, there are so many things I want to try but the counter is covered with ciabatta requiring me to slow down on the baking. So sad. I cared for my starters and they are thriving.  My 4 day old rye and grapefruit starter was ready for its first feeding of AP flour and water and it really took off. At the same time, I refreshed my old potato water starter for the third time and it was interesting to note the comparative rise and fall of the two. Jes look!

 3 hours elapsed

New and Old Starters: 3 hours elapsed

 4 hours elapsed

New and Old Starters, 2: 4 hours elapsed

There is now another opinion to gauge my success on the three ciabatta recipes baked this week. RC prefers my tried-and-true recipe using yeast but fortified with the excess unrefreshed sourdough. The flavor is really developed in the old potato water starter, dubbed Lazarus this week! (It was uncovered and scented the kitchen with a peach fragrance). I'll try that recipe again using my notes from this week's baking to see if I get consistent results. If so I'll share the recipe as an idea for using excess starter. Tossing it still bugs me!

I get to bake my first no knead tomorrow in one of my heirloom dutch ovens. I wonder if the 90 year old cast iron will flavor the bread like gumbo or chicken and dumplings? RC promises to take bread to our project Monday and feed it to the crews if I will bake tomorrow.

Now I have a strategy!

redivyfarm's picture

I spent all day on a long fermentation trying to duplicate bwraith's beautiful sourdough ciabatta. What I produced was the best tasting thing I've baked. On the down side the crumb is unremarkable again, proving I'm starting pretty low on the learning curve. My sourdough starter which has been dormant for months is now hyperactive as evidenced by this proof-

Sourdough ProofSourdough Proof

I think I overproofed. The dough was very soft, very puffy, very sticky!  I had to fold it some more to get it workable for shaping. Onto a cloche for final proof went the dough until I lost my nerve and moved the four ciabattas to oiled paper on a baking sheet. Envision a sticky mess of dough and cloth instead of tasty bread! To get a crunchy crust, I spritzed the loaves with water and steamed with a cup of water in a skillet. This recipe baked 18 minutes at 450 and still came out only a golden brown. Bwraith, how do you do it?

Sourdough Ciabatta #1Sourdough Ciabatta #1

Even if unremarkable in appearance, this bread won't last long. Its delicious!

It is day three for my rye and grapefruit juice starter and as Grandma Gracie would say, it is really going to town!

redivyfarm's picture

Well I'm starting a self-directed course of study in bread making.  I'm taking inspiration from the products of the very accomplished bakers of The Fresh Loaf community and plotting a course to learn what they know-and-can-do in their kitchens. I plan to document my efforts in this space.

This week I have revived my tired and sluggish sourdough starter with two feedings at better ratios.  I'm happy that the starter doubled vigorously this morning in three or four hours.  It is day three for the rye and grapefruit gruel; patience required there.

Yesterday I baked two ciabatta recipes after preparing the preferments for each the night before. The first is a yeast leavened white that was very successful when I first made it last year.  I experimented by adding unrefreshed sourdough starter in place of the liquid to add flavor. My recipe calls for very little handling, just dividing, shaping and dimpling after the first rise. The bread baked up very moist and light with a gazillion small holes.  The flavor is so good; the sourdough really did the trick. I wonder, do the large holes come from a longer final proof? I've been afraid of letting it go too long and falling flat.

 Baking of 4-11-07Simple Ciabatta: Baking of 4-11-07

Next Ciabatta Integrale as shared by JMonkey. I followed his KA recipe and notes exactly with one exception. When I mixed all of the ingredients I felt the mix was too dry so I added two teaspoons of water before the autolyse.  The hand mixing worked fine for me and allowed me to determine when I thought the hydration was right. As promised, this dough really rises actively! I enjoyed learning the stretch-and-fold technique; that was new to me. My result is a really light and moist wheat bread that is much more like sandwich loaf than a chewy ciabatta. My husband will love it when he comes home because that is what he prefers!

Whole Wheat CiabattaWhole Wheat Ciabatta

I hope to refer back to these ciabattas once I have found my baker's mojo.  To end on a positive note; I haven't baked anything inedible for almost a year!

redivyfarm's picture

After many starts and stops in bread making, I have found a passle of information in the community of The Fresh Loaf.  In less than a week of perusing bakers postings, I have confirmed that my softer doughs do indeed perform better and for good reason.  I have figured out how to keep my sourdough alive and kicking and am inspired to grow another using rye flour and fresh grapefruit juice.  I've read through all of the baking lessons and chosen to start with the last lesson and see where that goes!


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