I have made Ciabatta bread before, but never with sourdough and since I’ve been on a sourdough kick for a while now I figured it was worth a try. I decided to combine a recipe I found on www.thefreshloaf.com from Bwraith with a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s ARTISAN BREADS EVERY DAY. You can see the original recipe here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2577/sourdough-ciabatta. I used the ingredients from Bwraith’s recipe and changed some of the procedures to fit into my schedule by using Peter Reinhart’s method.
First I converted my 68% hydration white flour starter to a 100% hydration starter. I made enough to have the minimum requirement of 16 ounces. I also used KAF All Purpose which has a slightly lower protein level than bread flour. The idea is that this should help develop the large irregular shaped holes you want in this style of bread.
The original recipe called for refreshing the starter 3 times over the course of a day at room temperature. I did not see the point of this since my starter is more than lively enough after coming to room temperature out of the refrigerator. I simply used my refreshed starter right out of the refrigerator after letting it get a little warm first.
Here are the ingredients and procedure I followed:
16 oz. 100% Hydration Starter using KAF All Purpose
15 oz. KAF All Purpose Flour
2 oz. KAF Rye Blend Flour (if you don’t have this you can substitute Medium Rye)
12 oz. Water (90 degrees F.)
0.5 oz. Salt (14 grams) (3 Teaspoons) Note: My scale could not go low enough to measure such small weights so I converted to teaspoons.
Mix the starter with the water in the bowl of your mixer to break it up slightly. Add the flours and salt and mix for 1 minute on the lowest speed of your mixer. The dough should be rather sticky and rough at this point. Let it rest for 5 minutes in the mixer.
Mix on medium low using your paddle attachment for one minute. In my case I have a Bosch which only has one mixing/kneading attachment. The dough will still be very sticky but should very soft and much smoother. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl using a dough scraper or spatula. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface. Make sure you oil your hands and do a stretch and fold on all sides of the dough and flip it over and form it into a ball. Put the dough back in the bowl and let it rest for another 10 minutes at room temperature. Do this stretch and fold process three more times over the next 30 to 40 minutes. You can do the stretch and fold in the bowl itself if you prefer. I personally like to do it on the counter.
After you do the last stretch and fold put it back in the bowl and cover it. Then let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours and cover it tightly and refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days. The dough should rise to almost double its size in the refrigerator.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator at least 2.5 to 3 hours before you plan to bake and let it sit at room temperature. Place a large piece of parchment paper either on your work area or the back of a baking pan and dust with flour to cover it completely. Using an oiled or wet dough scraper gently remove the dough to the work surface. You want to be very careful so you don’t degas the dough and kill the big air holes you want to achieve.
Flour your hands and lightly dust the top of the dough. Use your hands and a metal dough scraper and form the dough into a 9″ square and be very careful again not to manhandle the dough and degas it.
Next, cut the dough into either 3 small ciabatta or 2 larger size loaves. I opted to go with the 2 larger size but probably would have been better making 3 smaller ones.
Gently fold the individual dough pieces into thirds like an envelope. Make sure to be very careful and not to apply any pressure. Roll the folded dough in the flour to coat it and lift it onto the parchment paper and roll it in the flour again. Rest the dough seam side down and repeat with the other piece(s) of dough.
Spray the tops of the dough with oil (I use a baking spray) and cover the pan with plastic wrap very loosely. You can also use a clean lint free kitchen towel.
After 1 hour of resting, roll the dough pieces very gently so the seam side is now facing up and lift them with your floured hands to coax them into either a 7″ rectangle if making the larger size or 5″ rectangle. Try to get them to be as close to a rectangle shape as you can when you put them back down on the parchment paper.
Let them rest covered loosely again for 1 hour.
About 45 minutes before baking, pre-heat oven with baking stone (I use one on bottom and one on top shelf of my oven), to 550 degrees F.
Place an empty pan in bottom shelf of your oven or a cast iron skillet.
Pour 1 cup of boiling water into pan and place loaves into oven. I also spray the side walls of the oven with water 2 to 3 times for added steam.
Lower oven to 450 Degrees and bake for 12 minutes and rotate the bread and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until bread has a nice golden brown crust and the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. The bread should have puffed up a little and should be hard when you tap it.
Let it cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes (good luck waiting that long!) and enjoy!
My only failure with this bread was due to me not using enough flour on the parchment paper. When I went to finish forming the dough I ended up slightly flattening one of my loaves and it didn’t end up as high as the other but still tasted great.
This post has been submitted to the Yeast Spotting Site here: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting