Ciabatta and holes?!

1,908
274
Joined Oct 28, 1999
I have been working to perfect my ciabatta loaves. However, I can't seem to get the crumb right. Only a few times I have been able to get the characteristic holes that you might use to identify a good ciabatta. I have been working with a wet dough (rather sticky, really!). Also, I have been working with 'poolish' starters. I did try using a 'biga', but that didn't seem to help. The starter is created the day prior then mixed into the dough. I let it rest, stretch, bench and stretch again. It rises in a rigged-up 'couche' and then hits a moisture-rich, 500* oven.
Any thoughts on technique? Thanks!
 
1,635
158
Joined Aug 14, 2000
I can only guess at two possible areas. The first is the hydration of the dough. I know you say the dough is wet and sticky, but you shouldn't really be able to handle it at all. The name ciabatta, which is Italian for slipper, is derived from the fact that this is the best shape they could get when working with such a wet dough. Someone thought it looked like a slipper. Try and handle the dough as little as possible. Use plenty of bech flour. Just my two cents :)
 
4,450
104
Joined Aug 4, 2000
You may want to consult the book indicated above - chock full of information. I just started reading it and it seems to contain really in-depth information relating to your problem than other bread books which I've perused. Check it out.
 
1,908
274
Joined Oct 28, 1999
Kyle, my dough has been soft, but not nearly un-handleable as you mention. It has been soft enough to not hold much shape, but I have been able to lift it, etc. I will look at my moisture content again.
Koko, I have been working from the Reinhart book with my students for the last month or so. For the past year or so, I had recreated about half of his recipes with fairly good success. The ciabatta loaf I am trying to complete now is from his Bread Baker's Apprentice. Thanks for the input.
 
1,635
158
Joined Aug 14, 2000
You shouldn't really be able to. It should just about ooze through your hands/fingers. That's why tons of bench flour is key:)
 
330
11
Joined Dec 23, 2003
This matches my consistency. It's very hard to work with but I get huge holes.

What brand of flour are you using? Is the protein level sufficient?
 
4,450
104
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Factors other than protein can affect extensibility and alveolar quality. I switched to some other flour at 12% protein, that is from Aspen Flour to Columbine, from the Rocky Mountain Flour Mill and got better quality bread with more oven spring and bigger holes. So it could be that the flour you're using isn't adaptable to Reinhart's Ciabatta.

Visit this site for more valuable information:

http://www.theartisan.net/
 
1,908
274
Joined Oct 28, 1999
So if the consistency will 'ooze', other than using the couche while it rises, how will it hold its shape?
 
1,635
158
Joined Aug 14, 2000
It doesn't :) Thats why it looks like it does, very wide and low. There is not enough "structure" to hold any real shape.
 

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