The other bread that I love to bake on a regular basis besides baguettes is ciabatta. This is yet another super-simple dough and like baguettes, requires a bit of finesse to get a good result. That good result is a loaf that feels light as a feather when you pick it up and whose crumb is open and airy. With this version, I thought I’d change it up a bit and use a white flour blend but I also added a roasted garlic paste to the mix to give it a bit of a garlic kick.
2 X 700g loaves
Make the Poolish. The night before you mix, make a 400g 100% hydration poolish in an appropriately sized container. Cover tightly with plastic and let it sit overnight on the counter or in a cool, dark place. It should be filled with bubbles by morning and slightly domed on top. Don’t worry if it has collapsed a bit or you see a bit of hooch around the edges. It should be filled with bubbles.
Roast the Garlic. Roast the garlic in a bit of olive oil for 35-40 minutes @ 375ºF. I recommend wrapping the garlic in a small square of foil so it doesn’t dry out and brown too much. Once finished, transfer it to a bowl and mash it up.
For mixing, I highly recommend using a stand mixer if you have one. This is a very wet dough and while you could mix it by hand, you’ll get a more uniform dough consistency with a mixer. And it’s a lot neater!
Mix. Add all the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment. While that’s mixing, loosen the poolish from its container by pouring the water around the edges of the dough mass. Stop the mixer, switch to the dough hook, then pour the poolish/water mixture into the bowl. Start on the slow setting to bring the ingredients together, stopping as necessary to scrape the sides of the bowl and bottom to ensure all the dry ingredients are picked up. Once all the ingredients have come together, add the garlic. Step up the speed on the mixer to medium-low and mix until you achieve a smooth consistency.
Bulk Fermentation: 2 hours @ 70-72℉.
First Fold. After the first 30 minutes, stretch and fold the dough in the bowl.
From here on out, it is critical that you be as gentle as possible with the dough. That’s the key to achieving that airy, open crumb.
Second Fold. After another 30 minutes, pour the dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Gently tug the dough into a rectangle about an inch thick, then starting from a long end, stretch the dough out, then fold it to about 2/3 over the mass. Perform the same on the other side. then repeat this with the now longer sides. Gently roll the dough mass onto the seams, let it sit for about 20 seconds to seal the seams, then transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, seam-side-down. Cover and allow the dough to finish bulk fermentation. It will be ready for scaling when the dough has about doubled from its original size.
Divide and Shape. Gently pour out the dough oil-side-up onto a generously floured work surface, then gently tug it into a rough rectangle of even thickness. Cut the dough into two equal pieces. I like to scale my dough, but it’s not necessary. Gently pull each piece into a long rectangle, then transfer to a well-floured couche or cloth (do not use terry cloth!).
Final Fermentation. Cover the shaped loaves and rest for 30 minutes.
Bake. Bake at 475℉ for 12 minutes with steam. Remove the steaming container, then reduce heat to 425℉ and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust has achieved a rich, golden-brown color.