The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Wet Dough

Schumann's picture

Wet Dough

I've been trying to make ciabatta for almost two weeks now (this is the first time I've ever tried so obsessi determinedly to bake something), and I don't really understand what's happening with the dough.

Here's my attempt for today, which was much more successful than usual.


I used the formula here ( which uses a very wet Poolish and I think works out to 92% hydration. (And I also added some olive oil and substituted some rye and whole-wheat flour into the poolish.)

I mixed the dough with the paddle at medium speed (#4 on a KitchenAid) until it formed a ball 3 or 4 minutes later. And then I let it spin for another minute or two, but it didn't seem to be accomplishing anything at that point. I did two stretch-and-folds while it was rising. (Had intended to do more, but got distracted.) And then I did a sort of abbreviated letter fold to shape it into a rectangle.

So anyway, the crumb turned out much more open and more evenly distributed than my earlier attempts (which tended to have a few biggish holes in the top half of the loaf, but lots of dense patches) and it's kind of moist and shiny/gauzy. I think I love it. Although it seems like ideally it ought to have fewer, bigger, better-defined holes instead of these sheets and strands all over the place.

What I'm wondering is whether this particular texture is due to the high hydration? (I hadn't tried anything higher than about 83% previously.) Or whether it's because the dough was on the underdeveloped side? Or something else... ? This is close enough to what I was after that I don't want to change the wrong thing!



PaddyL's picture

More knowledgable people than I will be able to tell you exactly why you got the texture you did, think it has something to do with wetter dough and no punching down after the rise, thereby keeping the air in the dough.  But I think you've done a terrific job and your bread looks great.

Paddyscake's picture

I would say yes to higher hydration! thanks for sharing the formula and that loaf is picture perfect. How does it taste?

leemid's picture

Keep making it and it will get easier too.


Schumann's picture

Paddyscake - but I had been reading a lot here!

It tasted great - although to be honest, I've had much less variation in flavor than in texture. All the instructions I used had an overnight poolish or biga, and so (I think) they all seemed to have a fairly similar flavor, even when I handled the dough badly or the shaping went awry.

The only exceptions were 1) a dough that oozed into a puddle and didn't spring in the oven... that one ended up looking and tasting a lot like the pizza stone. (Similar texture, too.) And 2) the Ponsford/Glezer method with the very stiff biga and the microscopic amount of yeast - that one had the same pleasant nutty flavor as the others, but it was much, much more intense. (After trying that I started putting a few tbsp of WW and rye in the starter of everything I made, but none of the other methods have been as flavorful. Going to try the original recipe again soon, now that I can handle the wet dough a bit better.)