Ciabatta is one of my favorite kinds of bread. A friend of mine (you know who you are…) says she does not understand this fascination with holes in the bread, as obviously where there is a hole, there is NO bread. What can I say? I love the texture, the look, the “feel” of a bread invaded by holes…
I have made ciabatta in the past, but never this particular recipe. Peter Reinhart gives us a choice, ciabatta made with “poolish” or “biga”. No need to panic, those are simple terms used by bakers, that define a pre-mixture of yeast with water and flour. In very general terms, a “poolish” contains more water, ends up looking like porridge. “Biga” is thicker, resembles play dough. Either of these are incorporated in the final dough, sometimes more yeast might be added to it. For this bread, I decided to use a “poolish”.
The “poolish” is added to flour and more yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.
After mixing, the dough is spread in a rectangular shape and folded twice during a few hours of rising. You can see how a dough is folded by clicking here.
After the first fold, things start to get really smooth, but the second fold is what really changes the look of the dough. Notice the nice “bubbly” nature…
More rising, the dough is cut in pieces, and allowed to rise some more in improvised “couches”
Ready to go into the oven!
I had very high hopes for this bread, because everything seemed to be going so well! Unfortunately, my bread ended up with a tight crumb, and I have no idea why. Should I have used a “biga” instead? Was my dough too stiff to start with? The bread still tasted very good, it just lacked those beautiful holes I longed for. Oh, well… there is always next time.
For those expecting a recipe, I should say that all participants of the BBA Challenge agreed not to post the recipes in their blogs, only general comments. My advice for those interested in bread baking is to get the book we are all baking from. Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a classic, you won’t be disappointed.