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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 5 months ago

More Bread Making Adventures:  Ciabatta Bread

31 Dec 07


In case you didn't know, ciabatta bread is named for its shape - "ciabatta" is Italian for slipper.  It usually has a hard crust and big crumb (pulp with big holes in it, as opposed to a smaller, finer crumb like you get in, say, store bought white sandwich bread.


In my recent bread experimentation frenzy, I tried a recipe from the now-out-of-print "Ultimate Bread", and, as promised, here's the results of my ciabatta bread experiment.


First, the recipe in baker's percentages:


Flour 100
Water 80
Milk 7.2
Instant yeast 1
Salt 0.6 *
Olive oil 0.4
Sugar 0.2
TOTAL 189.4

* - in some parts of Italy, including where my folks come from in Umbria, bread is baked without salt, so feel free to drop it if you want that experience.


This was the first bread I baked using a starter - a paste of flour, water, sugar and yeast allowed to rise (at least) overnight that acts as the leavening "core" of the bread dough.  Variations on this theme are used in various countries, with slightly different formulas and varying fermentation times before use - ranging from the Italian biga (needing up to 18 hours of fermentation to peak) to the French poolish (which can be ready for use overnight). 


In this case, since I was aiming for a two-loaf recipe, here's what went into the starter (from the book recipe):


Flour 150g
Water 150g
Milk 36g
Instant yeast 2g
Sugar 1g

NOTE:  All of these ingredients combine with all the OTHER ingredients to make the baker's percentage formula -- the starter uses about 1/3 of the total flour, and about 1/4 of the total water.


Once the starter was ready, I combined it with the following:

Flour 350g
Water 250g
Salt 3g
Instant yeast 2g
Olive oil 2g

Looking at the main formula, you can see it's a LOT wetter dough than usual, making it pretty sticky to manage.  After blending and kneading very gently a bit, I proofed this in the oven (standard proof) for about 2.5 hours to double the volume.  I then split what was in the dough into two, and carefully placed the wet, sticky dough on silicone baking sheets for their bench proof phase (about 30 minutes).  Then, into the 425 degree oven (silicone baking sheet on standard baking sheet) for about 30 minutes, until the bread was 190-200 degrees inside.


The results?





Very rustic look - great for grilling up so you can scrape a garlic clove on the toasted bread for some REAL bruschetta (with VERY good olive oil and salt - not with the fancy-shmancy tomato-esque toppings that carry the same name, but none of the authentic "stings the tongue" garlic flavour of the original).


Also, the bottom, while cooked, wasn't as dark & rustic as the top, so next time, I'll try it on parchment instead of the silicone sheets (more direct contact on the baking stone).


Because of the sloppiness of the dough, don't know if I'd do this one too, too often, but it's nice to know I can do a reasonable job of it.


Next stop on the bread making adventure:  US Army rye bread...

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