Thursday, June 25, 2009

BBA Challenge #7 Ciabatta

So for the purposes of this challenge, I'm doing everything by the book and as it's written.  I'm not tinkering, even when I really really want to fix something.  I did the poolish version out of the book, and I've made ciabattas before, so I knew pretty much what I was looking for. Having read several threads on TFL in the past when I was looking for recipes and research, I knew that this version was going to be tricky.

The poolish version has a very low hydration for a ciabatta, which usually has hydrations of at least 80% and upwards.  The last ciabatta I'd made used a 95% hydration which was crazy wet but also tasted and looked amazing.  PR's poolish ciabatta only has a hydration of 72% in comparison! It's more like a baguette dough than a ciabatta, in that sense. The biga version is a little better, but not by a whole lot (78-79%, I believe).  Why do we want high hydration? So we get those nice big holes inside that are the mark of a well handled dough.

Knowing all this, I was absurdly gentle when I handled the dough.  I made sure to flour the board (we don't have enough counter room) really really well, and then I lined my couche with parchment that I sprayed oil on and then floured so the flour would stick.  I didn't want to take any chances of stickage with this, and the parchment made transferring into the oven very easy: slide on peel, stretch a little, and slide right onto stone.

I did add a tiny bit of olive oil, as in the side notes, but not the full 1/4.  I think I only added about 1TB and when I cut it open to taste, it was awesome.  The crust had softened a bit so that it was still a little chewy, but not tough and leathery, and the crumb was again nice and chewy, but a little more tender from the touch of oil.  I really enjoyed the taste of this, but I'll continue pushing the hydration higher too.


  1. Awesome! I too loved this bread.
    Your crumb looks pretty good.
    Great baking along with you,

  2. Looks yummy! working on mine this week at my catering gig...outdoor kitchen...we'll see! happy baking!

  3. Looks awesome. I too thought something was amiss with the hydration, so I may try it again this weekend. After I write the post on the first one, though...

  4. Very nice! I liked the taste also. I wished I would have thought to use the parchment paper on the couche. These were bigger than I thought they'd be and were a little tricky moving it to the sheet pan.
    I'm writing my post up now. I made the poolish caramelized onion & herb version. I had to add more water to get the dough to behave like Peter says it should (clear the sides but cling to the bottom of the bowl)

  5. Looks awesome! I hope my ciabatta turns out as well as yours!