The Fresh Loaf

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Ciabatta Final Proof-Is it Really Necessary?

tothpianopeter's picture

Ciabatta Final Proof-Is it Really Necessary?

Hello everyone,

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

80% hydration

2% salt

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?

phaz's picture

Yup. Enjoy!