Sunday, December 21, 2008

My First Ciabatta

Ever since I started to make bread out of interest, I have always been fascinated by the bread Ciabatta. The meaning of the name (Slipper bread) and the holey crumb really interested me. But what prevented me from attempting to make Ciabatta is the difficulty in making this bread, from what I read on the internet. But I decided to pick up my courage and attempted to make my first Ciabatta!

Making the Biga

I prepared the Biga using bread flour, yeast and water and let it sit covered outside overnight for about 12-15 hours. This Biga has quite a high water content, about 70-80%.

Top: Biga right after the mixture was done.
Bottom: Biga after 12-15 hours. Nice and bubbly with a nice beer-aroma smell.

Making the Dough

The dough is made using bread flour, water and salt. Just add all the ingredients to the Biga.
Since this Ciabatta I'm attempting has a total of 80-85% water, it is IMPOSSIBLE to knead the dough.

YY was the one who helped me did the main dough. What she did was to keep scraping the dough from the sides of the bowl and fold it to the centre of the dough while turning the bowl. She repeated this for about 20-30 min until the dough started to pull away from the bowl and it eventually formed a rounded dough. The dough was then covered with a cling film and left to rest for 30 min.

From top-left: Biga with the rest of the flour, water and salt; messy mixture of the dough; YY folding the dough onto itself; the formed dough resting for 30min.

Folding the Dough

Ciabattas' special characteristics will have to be their holey crumb and thick, crispy crust. I came across a method on the internet on how to achieve this.

Repeat the above for 2-3 times, each time taking care not to burst any air bubbles.

From top-left: dough after resting for 30min; me folding the dough; folded dough; how the dough looks like after folding. I did not flip the dough over after the folding as the dough as too sticky and soft. -_-

After proofing, I transferred the dough onto a baking tray sprinkled with semolina powder. I think I was too rough and also the dough was stuck onto the marble surface and caused the dough to flatten! O.O!

From top-left: Flat dough on baking tray; dough proofing in unheated oven; dough after 1 hour; another picture of the dough.

The proofed dough is then sprayed with water (to make a ticker crust) and then popped into a 200°C oven to bake for 30-40min till golden brown.

From Top-left: Bread baking; baked Ciabatta; close up shot; picture of the crumb.

The ciabatta was not as soft as I expected it to be. No big and holey structure too. Maybe was due to the flattening of the dough when it was transferred to the baking tray and also maybe due to the lack of oil in the recipe.

Things learnt:
1. Fold the dough on the baking tray so that it does not have to be transferred after proofing.
2. Must flip the dough over after folding so that the smooth surface is on the top to prevent air from escaping.

Well, to me, at least this was a good attempt as the watery, sticky mess became a bread in the end~

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