Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sourdough Ciabatta Bread

Summer has arrived; temperature is rising and the dough is falling.

The first time I made these Ciabatta rolls it was March 1. In the North of Thailand, were we live, we have 3 seasons; summer, rainy season and winter. March 1 is the beginning of summer, and it was! Last week we needed to use our thick and heavy blanket for the cold nights. But, this all changed on March 1. The first night we only needed our sheet and a duvet in the early morning. What a strange feeling after a few months of cold nights.

I decided to make Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls. I found recipes using yeast, but I’m affected with the “sourdough virus”. I have noting against yeast, but I really enjoy feeding the sourdough every day and I can’t wait to use it in a recipe. I had already fed the sourdough to an amount of 610 grams! I never had seen so much sourdough starter.

Jeffrey Hamelman says: “Ciabatta dough is unique in many ways: First, it is very wet and sticky dough, with often upwards of 80 percent or even higher hydration. This requires some special handling (like locking all the doors so the bakers can’t run for the exits)….”
When I read this, I couldn’t agree more.
The first time I made ciabatta’s I was not content with the looks. They tasted great and there were holes inside. But, they looked like thick pancakes! The second time I changed some things:
first; I used less water. When I become more experienced I will add more water. For now I wanted a good looking ciabatta. Now I know I could have used more water. Maybe I’m becoming more experienced already?
second; after kneading the dough I placed it in the refrigerator and only took it out for folds and placed it back to keep cool. The temperature in our house at that moment was 32 C in the morning and around 38 C in the afternoon.
third: I kept a very close eye on the proofing of the rolls. I didn’t want to over proof, due to the hot temperature in the kitchen, because then there will be no oven spring and no color; only flat rolls.
fourth: I made 6 rolls and 2 loaves. The loaves didn’t fit on my baking stone, it’s a round one. I placed everything on aluminum sheet on the metal baking plate. It burned off course, but with a bit of taking out and placing back and so on I managed to do it. They were burned a bit and this gave the bread a nice flavor and taste. We liked it. But, a baking stone is a necessity.

Having said all this, my compliments go out to all the bakers who have baked ciabatta’s and didn’t run out the door.
Yield: 12 rolls, or 6 rolls and 2 loaves
Desired dough temperature: 22 C

This is what I used:
465 g flour
76 g whole wheat bran
17 g salt
26 g olive oil
610 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
300 g water
semolina flour and extra white flour for dusting

This is what I did:
In the bowl of the mixer, combine flours, salt, olive oil, starter, and water. Mix until the ingredients cohere. And mix until the gluten reaches a medium-low level of development. This took me about 10 minutes to check because the dough was so sticky.

Normally you would ferment it at room temperature. But I covered and fermented it in the refrigerator. I took it out for folding at 30, 60, and 120 minutes. I saw a video of the Back Home Bakery on folding wet and sticky dough. In stead of taking the dough out on the counter Mark used a plastic dough scraper and scooped it from the sides onto itself to the centre. It works!

After 7 – 12 hours in the refrigerator you can let it warm up at room temperature for about 1.5 – 2 hours. I used the dough directly from the refrigerator.

Dust your counter heavily with a 50/50 mixture of flour and semolina flour. Carefully turn the dough out, taking care to degas it as little as possible.
Starting at the center, put your hands with open fingers under the dough and gently stretch the dough out into a square about 1.5 – 2 cm in height.

With dough cutter, cut the dough into 12 pieces. I used 2 knives in the opposite direction; blades facing each other. You can make sharp cuts this way.

Gently transfer the dough pieces, keeping the flour side down, to a couche that has been heavily dusted with the flour/semolina mixture. This time I used a heavily dusted towel in stead of the parchment and it worked. Parchment sticks also when it is not hot.

Cover and proof at room temperature for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The rolls should be very light. I proofed the rolls for 1 hour and 15 minutes due to the hot temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 245 C/475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now. I used the hot stones with boiling water for steam.

Gently transfer the rolls to a piece of parchment, turning them so the floured side is up. Again, try not to degas the dough. I baked the rolls and the loaves in two different batches.

To bake, slide the entire parchment onto the baking stone. Once the rolls are in, turn the oven down to 230 C/450F. Bake with steam for 5 minutes, then another 15 – 20 minutes without steam. When the crust is as brown as you like it, turn off the oven, crack the door, and keep the rolls inside for another 5 minutes. Because I didn’t used the baking stone I had to keep a close eye and nose on the oven. After steaming I removed the aluminum sheet to give the rolls and loaves color on the bottom. But, I had to replace it because they started to burn a bit. After baking they looked great, tasted and smelled delicious. And the crumb had beautiful ciabatta holes. Cool on a wire rack.

I found these ciabatta’s at Susan’s WildYeast
I will send them to Yeastspotting

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  1. Excited to try this recipe with my Red Sea Sourdough. Thank you for sharing. I have been looking for a good recipe

  2. I think I'm the only USA person using oz. and cups to have a genuine sourdough starter. Mine is 5 years old. BUT, I have to always convert the recipes from grams to oz. Bread is forgiving. And I'll do my best.