Friday, July 24, 2009

BBA Challenge #7: Ciabatta Redux


I had already deemed the Ciabatta a failure in the post about it, and it was only after the fact that I realized that I had not even bothered to take pictures of the crumb.

I wasn't going to do it again, but the bakery across the street has beautiful Ciabatta and with olives, and I was determined to make it this time.

So the night before, I started the biga. It was a no biga deal, but I decided not to take pictures. Actually, it wasn't until the next morning that I actually set up the light stand and the flash.

I do know that I'm supposed to use sunlight, but that would require bringing everything into the living room. And even though the sun sets at some crazy hour like 21:30, I don't really use sunlight. The reason being that the flash allows me to obtain an aperture of f4.0, for the depth of field that I really want.

We begin on the day of baking with the biga. I cut it up into several small pieces to bring it up to temperature. Okay, I lie. I actually left it on the counter in the bowl for an hour before referring back to the book and realizing I was supposed to cut it up into pieces.

Here it is after the first rise, all puffed up in its silky high-hydration glory.

The last time I had made a couche I actually put a double batch on it and it didn't come out so good. This time I made sure each ciabatta had room enough to expand.

Rising in the traditional folded over letter-style.

The first loaf I baked (and yes, I did them one at a time, as my baking stone is only 30x30 cm square) stuck a bit to the couche, so the backside of it came out a bit long from being stretched.

Still, the loaves came out quite beautiful. All dusted and rustic. I would have actually liked them darker, but wanted to go by the book so as not to fudge up anything.

I brought this loaf to a 19km hike the next day. Everyone had a piece, but I actually had a raisin nut loaf as well, so that bread proved much more popular.

This one was actually my fave. I brought it along to our Book Club, and everyone except the children loved it. I think it was because of the lower salt content, or the two tablespoons of olive oil I added in for flavor.

The underside was also a bit pale.

I even remembered to take a crumb shot and even got some decent holes.

Of course the loaf you see here in these last two pictures was devoured an hour after coming out of the oven in an egg, cheese, tomato and soy slice sandwich.

I am actually glad I re-did this recipe, as the bread was much softer than last time, and had a nice moist crumb. Last time, the bread dried out immediately and was tooth-breakingly chewy the next day that I had to throw it out.

I'm actually thinking of making the mushroom ciabatta version pretty soon, so I'll post when I do.


  1. Awesome. You're making me want to bake it again but it's too hot. :)
    Great job,

  2. I'm glad you tried again and it was a success. Yes, make the mushroom one. I did and it was absolutely wonderful.

  3. Congratulations!! What beautiful holes. You're making me want to try it inspirational!

  4. Yea! A Ciabatta Win! And bigger holes, too. Jealous, but inspired to try again. :)

  5. You've also inspired me to try it again. I want holes, damn it!

  6. Nice holes! The mushrooms ciabatta sounds yummy, I have yet to try those.

  7. Daniel!

    Your post gives me hopes in trying the Ciabata recipe again. I used Poolish the first time but it seems many BBA members weren't getting the nice big and shiny crumb -

    GAbi @