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.
|Warm Water (~95°F)||421g|
2 X 700g loaves
Make the Poolish. The night before, make a 400g 100% hydration poolish. Cover tightly with plastic and let it sit overnight on the counter. By morning, it should be filled with bubbles and slightly domed on top. Don’t worry if it has collapsed or you see a bit of hooch around the edges.
I highly recommend using a mixer. This is a very wet dough and while you could mix it by hand, you’ll get a more uniform consistency with a mixer.
Roast the Garlic. You can do this at any time. Just have it ready for when you mix. I use peeled garlic drizzled with olive oil then loosely wrap it in foil. I roast the garlic at 375℉ for 30-35 minutes to where it’s fork-tender. After roasting, transfer to the garlic to a bowl and mash it well.
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, then add the poolish-water mixture to the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and mix at low speed until the dough (it’s more like batter) starts coming together. Stop the mixer again and add the roasted garlic mash. At this point, mix at medium-low until smooth and the dough starts climbing up the hook a bit.
At this point, you can transfer the dough to another bowl (I like to use a glass mixing bowl going forward) or just let it rest in the bowl for 45 minutes.
Bulk Fermentation. About 2 hours at 70℉ ambient temp.
First Fold. After 45 minutes, fold the dough in the bowl. Make sure you stretch the dough adequately enough to feel the tension building in the dough. After several folds, rest for 45 minutes.
Second Fold. Generously flour your work surface (and I mean generously), then pour the dough out. With closed fingers, work your hands under the dough and shape it into a rough rectangle less than an inch thick throughout the mass. To make it easier to understand, the long side should be the East-West side. Take one of the long sides, stretch it out away from the sheet, then fold it back over almost to the end. Gently pat the dough down, then repeat with the opposite end. Do the same for the North and South sides. When you do the North-South side, you may notice that the dough fights you a little. This is a good thing! It means the gluten strands are aligning and you’ve built strength in the dough. Gently roll the dough mass onto the seams and let it rest for several seconds to seal.
Transfer the dough seam-side-down to a well-oiled bowl. You can use the same mixing bowl, but this time, you need to oil it down. Cover the bowl and let the dough double in volume. At around 70℉, this will take about 30-45 minutes.
Divide and “Shape.” At this point, I personally like to scale my dough, but you can eyeball it as well. As with the second fold above, transfer the dough seam-side-up onto a generously floured surface. Work the mass into a rectangle with even thickness, then cut the dough in half. With ciabatta, there’s really no shaping. What I like to do is take a piece, gently work it into a slightly long rectangle, then transfer it to a generously-floured couche. Once on the couche, I’ll tug it into the final rectangle shape I want.
Final Fermentation. This can take as little as 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes depending on your ambient temperature and yeast activity. The purpose of this step isn’t for more expansion, but to let the dough relax before baking to ensure that the bubbles will expand in the oven.
Bake. Bake at 475℉ with steam for 12 minutes. Remove steam/steaming container, then bake for 12-15 minutes at 425℉.