Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ciabatta with Olive Oil and Wheat Germ. We are ugly but we have the music.

Unlike regular French and Italian bread, ciabatta is a wet, slack dough that gets sliced and gently stretched rather than being shaped. This leads to some funny looking loaves. Ciabatta means slipper in Italian - even they find them funny looking.

But the ciabatta is known for its light interior and its crunchy crust, what is ugly on the outside is beautiful on the tongue.

This particular ciabatta strays from the norm and contains wheat germ and olive oil. I find that those additions gave my bread a somewhat denser, more wheaty texture and flavour but it was tasty nonetheless. Would this be my go-to ciabatta? No. I still like the traditional white one in which the slightly sour tang of the preferment shines through. I enjoyed giving this one a go though, and it made for excellent toasts for my French onion soup (to be posted tomorrow).

Ciabatta with Olive Oil and Wheat Germ
Adapted from Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman
online recipe sourced from California Olive Ranch
for the Mellow Bakers



    * Bread flour 9.6 oz. (2 ¼ cups)

    * Water 9.6 oz. (1 ¼ cups)

    * Yeast 1/8 tsp, instant dry
Final Dough      

    * Bread flour 1 lb, 4.8 oz. (4 ¾ cups)

    * Wheat germ, toasted 1.6 oz. (3/8 cup)

    * Water 13.4 oz (1 5/8 cups)

    * Salt 0.6 oz (1 T)

    * Yeast 0.13 oz, instant dry (1 ¼ tsp)

    * Poolish 1 lb., 3.2 oz. (all of the above

    * Extra virgin olive oil 1 oz. (2 T)


   1. POOLISH: Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour, and mix until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70° F.

   2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the polish and toasted wheat germ, but not the extra virgin olive oil. In a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid-type mixer, mix on first speed for 2 ½ minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. If necessary, correct the hydration by adding water or flour in small amounts. Turn the mixer to second speed and begin to add the extra virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Mix on second speed for 4 ½ to 5 ½ minutes, until gluten development is evident. The dough will be rather loose and sticky, but when tugged on, some definite dough strength should be noted -- there should be some “muscle” to the dough. Notice the nice flecks of what germ spread throughout the dough.
      Desired dough temperature: 75° F.

   3. BULK FERMENTATION: 3 hours.

   4. FOLDING: Fold the dough twice, after 1 hour of bulk fermentation and again after 2 hours. To do so, flour the work surface, using somewhat more flour than you think is necessary. Excess flour will not be incorporated into the dough because it will all be brushed off. Turn the dough out onto the work surface, so that the top of the dough is neatly turned over and spread onto the floured work surface. Now take one side, say, the left side of the dough, and lift up about one-third of the bulk and turn it vigorously onto the body of the dough. With spread fingers, use both hands to pat down the dough and degas it. Don’t attempt to drive out every bit of fermentation gas; just press enough to expel the major portion of the gases. Now take about one-third of the dough from the right side and fold it in toward the center, overlapping the first fold. Again press to degas. Be sure, before that second folding and prior to all folds, that any raw flour on the top surface of the dough is brushed away. After folding the right-hand third of the dough into the center, reach over to the far side of the dough, bring about one-third toward you, and fold this portion. Finish by taking the dough closest to you and folding that portion away from you and into the center. When this fourth side has been folded, turn the dough over on the work surface so the seams are underneath, bring your hands under the dough from the left and right sides, pick it up in a mass and replace it in the dough container. The folds give a final strengthening to the dough.

   5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Flour the work surface copiously. Invert the dough onto the work surface and gently pat out the larger air bubbles -- but remember that for the most part the fermentation gasses and the associated interior holes and pockets in the dough should remain intact. Lightly flour the top surface of the dough. Have ready a sufficient number of bread boards that are thoroughly (but not too thickly) covered with sifted bread flour. Cut the dough into three approximately equal rectangles. Each should weigh about 18 ounces. If the dough is too light, place the additional bits of dough needed to correct the weight on top of the dough piece. Place each dough piece on a floured bread board, with the scrap on top. If they are more square than rectangular, give a gentle stretch, but be careful not to tear the dough. When all the dough has been scaled, cover the boards with baker’s linen and then plastic.

   6. FINAL FERMENTATION: Approximately 1 1/2 hours at 75° F.

   7. Prepare the oven. About 1 hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack. Heat oven to 460 degrees Fahrenheit.

   8. BAKING: To transfer the proofed ciabatta dough to the baker’s peel, spread the fingers of both your hands wide. Bring them alongside the long length of the dough and, with a quick, deft stroke, invert the dough piece so that the side that was touching the bread board is now on top. Now, place one hand at each end of the dough piece, bring your fingers underneath, and pick it up. Here you will slightly bunch the dough for easier transport. There should be wrinkles in the center of the loaf as you transfer it to the peel. Carefully place the loaf on the peel and, as you do so, unbunch your hands so the loaf is again at its full length. Take care to place the loaf exactly where you want it on the peel -- it is so fragile that you must minimize any excess moving of the loaves. Presteam the oven. After placing the loaves in the oven, steam again. For a loaf scaled at 18 ounces, with normal steam, 460° F for 20 minutes, then, because of the olive oil in the dough, lower the oven temperature to 440° F and bake for 16 to 20 minutes longer. This prevents the loaves from getting too dark.

   9. EATING: After taking the loaves from the oven, let them cool fully before slicing and eating.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!