Hand-mixed Ciabatta-My First Blog Entry
I joined TFL only a few months ago, this is my first blog entry. I am a musician by profession, baking is my hobby. Recently I have been obsessed with ciabattas. This is the last one I baked today. It was all hand mixed (I don't have a mixer), containing 80% biga. After reading Alan's blog entry about his fabulous results (see here), I needed to try it myself. However, I had to make a few changes to the formula due to the absence of a stand mixer. I reduced the yeast significantly to 0.14 percent, so the dough was allowed to have a longer fermentation and develop gluten through time. I like to experiment a lot in baking, so I thought I would raise the hydration up to 85% and see what happens. I didn't include oil because prefer 100% lean ciabattas. So, I ended up with this formula:
100% KA AP flour
80% prefermented flour in biga (60% hydration, fermented overnight with 0.06% IDY)
85% total water
0.14% total IDY (including yeast in biga)
3-hour bulk fermentation, 2 stretch & folds during bulk at 45 and 90 minutes
1-hour final proof on couche
In order to incorporate the biga into the final dough by hand, I cut it up into small pieces with my bench knife. The incorporation took about five minutes of intense mixing. Then, I kneaded it for about 15 minutes using the Rubaud method. The result was a smooth dough, although it didn't demonstrate a lot of strength. But I hoped time and folds would develop the gluten further.
After the second fold, the dough felt much stronger than the beginning. It more than doubled in three hours.
By this experiment, I was surprised by two things. First, the dough moved surprisingly fast, given that I used only 0.14% instant dry yeast in the entire formula. My kitchen temperature was not crazy hot either, it was only around 74 degrees. Second, I wouldn't have thought that I could actually get away with 100% AP flour at 85% hydration, let alone the hand mixing! I know that King Arthur's All Purpose Flour is a high-end AP flour, but still. In retrospect, I think maybe keeping it down at 80% would have worked slightly better, as after the 1-hour final proof the dough felt kind of week and spread out a little, but I might have also overproofed it a little bit. Next time I might try it with only 80% water and maybe a slightly shorter final proof.
Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated!