Ciabatta Final Proof-Is it Really Necessary?
I have been experimenting with yeasted ciabatta with either biga or poolish lately and noticed that most recipes call for a final proof after dividing the dough. As far as I know, ciabatta dough is supposed to be really proofy and full of bubbles by the end of the bulk fermentation. Sometimes I would even let it triple during bulk ferment. Since there is almost zero dough handling after the bulk stage other than cutting the dough into pieces, I am not sure why a final proof is required. The dough is not shaped, just simply divided on a floured surface, so most of the bubbles are retained, that's why I don't understand why most recipes still call for a final proof, even though the dough is already full of bubbles. Last time I made two loaves, and I skipped the final proof for one of them, while the other one final-proofed for about 30 minutes. Interestingly, the one that didn't final-proof at all had a much better oven spring and larger holes than the one that had the final proof. This is the formula I used:
90% bread flour
10% whole wheat flour
0.2% active dry yeast
Poolish: 30% prefermented flour, 100% hydration, 0.1% ADY to poolish flour, fermented for about 15 hours
Bulk fermentation for about 3 hours at room temperature, gave it a few folds at the beginning until passed windowpane test. Then fridge overnight. Next morning I took dough out of the fridge, by this time it had tripled. I let it warm up a little bit, then divided it into two ciabatta loaves, one of which I baked immediately, and that one turned out better than the other one that final-proofed.
So, my question is: if the dough has sufficiently risen and is full of bubbles after bulk fermentation, can't we just skip the final proof, given that there is no shaping involved in the process?