Ciabatta al Formaggio (Cheese Ciabatta), Double Hydration Method
I couldn’t bake as scheduled last Sunday because of an unexpected delay. The cause of this delay was pie but I won’t delve deeply into that subject. Let’s just say that Diana (my baking partner) and I’s attempt to bake a sweet potato pie wasn’t too successful. Interestingly, on the following day, we discovered that we mistook yams for sweet potatoes.
Unperturbed by the delay, I prepared my ciabatta after work on a Tuesday night, finishing at two in the morning.
TWO IN THE FRIGGIN’ MORNING!!!
Was it worth it?
Yes… Yes, it was.
(This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.)
The primary objectives for the cheese ciabatta were the following:
Adapted from the website Bread Cetera, the following adjustments were made to the original recipe:
Additionally, if available, I’ve listed brand names of the food products I used in the tables below. Disclaimer: This isn’t an endorsement. I’m simply indicating the names of the branded products used in my baking experiment.
Yield: 4 cheese ciabatta (loaf)
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 35 + 35 + 35 + 35 minutes
|Type 00 flour, Chilled||576 g||Divella|
|Instant yeast||2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp||DSL|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||576 g||Mineré|
|Type 00 flour, Chilled||544 g||Divella|
|Medium rye flour / Type 1150 rye flour, Chilled||60 g||Ireks|
|Instant yeast||8 g||DSL|
|Roasted sea salt||20 g||Hakata Noshio|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||381 g||Mineré|
|Fresh mozzarella, Certified, Grated||150 g||Casablanca|
|Extra virgin olive oil||N/A||Campagne|
|Rice flour||N/A||Double Squirrel|
|Type 00 flour||N/A||Divella|
|Corn meal / Polenta||N/A||Origins|
|Countertop convection oven, Refrigerator, Electric kettle, Sheet pans, Parchment paper, Table cloth (Couche), Spatulas, Strainers, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Plastic bin, Plastic bag, Mechanical kitchen scale, Graduated cylinder (Measuring spoons), Chinese chef’s knife, Paring knife, Scissor, Box grater, Spoons, Wire rack, Cutting boards, Unglazed clay tiles (Baking stone)|
Warning: Do not attempt my “recipe” (i.e., experiment) without considering the following; variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen utensils and equipment, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.
Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes:
- placing unglazed clay tiles onto the middle rack of the oven
- lining the sheet pan with parchment paper
Step 1: As the crickets buzzed with high pitched hymns, I prepared the poolish—a type of pre-ferment—by gathering the following materials: type 00 flour, instant yeast, strainer, and mixing bowl.
Step 2: Once sifted into the mixing bowl, the type 00 flour and instant yeast was whisked until well blended.
Step 3: Next, I fetched the bowl of mineral water and a plastic spatula.
Step 4: Pour, stir, stir, stir…
Note: While waiting, the mixing bowl containing the poolish was inserted into a large plastic bag to reduce the risk of contamination.
Step 5: In the meantime, I rinsed and washed the used kitchen equipment.
Step 6: After three hours had elapsed, the mixing bowl containing the now bubbly poolish was sealed with plastic wrap, then placed into the refrigerator for eighteen hours (chilled at approx. 6°C / 42.8°F).
Step 7: *Fast forward eighteen hours.*
Wakey, wakey, my dear poolish.
Step 8: After weighing and allotting my ingredients (including the poolish) for the final dough, I assembled the poolish, mineral water, plastic spatula, and mixing bowl.
Step 9: Poured into the mixing bowl, the poolish and mineral water (217 g) were mixed with the spatula to achieve a smoother consistency.
Suffice it to say, the resulting mixture wasn’t very smooth. It was rather runny and lumpy.
Step 10: Thereafter, the type 00 flour, type 1150 rye flour, instant yeast, roasted sea salt (what the heck is roasted sea salt?!), and a strainer were retrieved.
Now, about the roasted sea salt… I don’t know. It was discovered in the supermarket and I thought its fineness was suitable for baking.
Step 11: Sifted onto the over-hydrated poolish, the dry ingredients (i.e., flours, yeast and salt) were incorporated into the mixture by performing a series of “folding” with the plastic spatula.
“Wait, that ain’t right.”
Step 12: Concerned with the dryness of the dough, I poured a small amount of mineral water into the mixing bowl, then proceeded to fold the dough until the above consistency was reached (i.e., well hydrated and sticky).
Subsequent to that, the dough was rested for fifteen minutes. (To my understanding, this rest period is for purposes of proper hydration and gluten development.)
Note: I spent the majority of that fifteen minutes rushing to eat dinner. Reason being, my tummy was starving, which hindered me from thinking clearly.
Step 13: Once fifteen minutes had passed, I transferred the wet, sticky dough onto a cutting board and implemented the “French kneading method“.
In total, the dough was kneaded for nine to ten minutes.
Step 14: *Picks up dough and dumps it into the mixing bowl.*
Stay! I’ll be right back!
Step 15: As promised, I returned to the dough and poured the remainder of the water into the mixing bowl (above). Shortly afterwards, I repeatedly folded the dough until the water was absorbed.
Truth be told, throughout this process I was instilled with doubt and fear.
Step 16: *Deeply exhales in relief.*
Ten minutes of continuous folding resulted in the above.
Step 17: After coating the bottom of a large plastic bin with extra virgin olive oil, I poured the very wet and unruly dough into the bin. Following that, I waited five minutes, “stretched and folded” the dough with wet hands, inserted the bin into a plastic bag, then rested the dough for thirty to forty minutes.
Meanwhile, I grated the fresh mozzarella with a box grater.
Note: I didn’t expect the dough to raise so high and purposely neglected to oil the sides of the bin. That was a mistake I will not make again.
Step 18: Upon the passage of thirty to forty minutes, I removed the plastic bag from the bin and observed a flattened dough.
“Good,” I thought. “I can sprinkle more toppings.”
Accordingly, I dispersed the grated mozzarella and a pinch of each dry herb onto the dough. Subsequently, I repeated another stretch and fold, reinserted the bin into the plastic bag, then rested the dough for an additional thirty to forty minutes. This process was later repeated, with the exception of resting (i.e., fermenting) the dough for an hour.
Step 19: Now came the tricky part.
Wetting the dull blade of my Chinese chef’s knife, I slashed and tore the dough into four portions. Thereafter, I used my wet hands to fold each dough (akin to a letter), then transferred each dough onto my homemade couche (i.e., linen table cloth) heavily dusted with rice flour.
Sometime at this point, I realized that my self-calculated recipe was faulty. I had a large surplus of dough and could not chill any portion inside my refrigerator. It was completely full!
Note: Above, each portion of dough was laid upon a sprig or two of Thai basil. This was done for decorative purposes.
Step 20: While proofing (i.e., fermenting), the oven was preheated to 250°C / 482°F (convection mode on).
As soon as thirty minutes had elapsed, I liberally dusted the surface of a single dough portion with type 00 flour, then clumsily transferred the dough onto an inverted sheet pan sprinkled with corn meal (i.e., polenta). Soon after, the dough was again transferred onto the parchment lined sheet pan, also sprinkled with corn meal.
Note: It was impossible to directly transfer the dough from the couche to the parchment lined sheet pan, without damaging the neighbouring doughs on the couche.
Step 21: As quickly and smoothly as possible, I “loaded” the dough onto the unglazed clay tiles (on the middle rack of the preheated oven), poured boiled water into a separate and empty sheet pan, placed the said water-filled sheet pan onto the bottom of the oven, closed the oven’s door, and baked the dough for ten minutes at 230°C / 446°F (convection mode off).
Step 22: After ten minutes of baking, I removed the water-filled sheet pan, rotated the dough, and baked the dough for an additional twenty-five minutes at 220°C / 428°F (convection mode on).
Thereafter, the firm crusted ciabatta was removed from the oven and cooled on a wire rack for several hours at above room temperature.
Note: Each remaining portion of dough was transferred, baked, and cooled in the same manner, following steps 20 to 22.
Step 23: So… sleepy… Need… rest.
After twelve hours of being baked, the crust of the ciabatta was fairly firm and somewhat crispy, whereas the crumb was soft, springy, and faintly moist. Overall, the ciabatta tasted slightly nutty and mildly savoury (presumably from the fresh mozzarella), accompanied by a faint but pleasant odour of herbs. When emaciated, the initial mouthfeel was marked by acute dryness, likely caused by excess rice flour.
Note 1: The cheese ciabatte (plural of ciabatta) were stored at above room temperature.
Note 2: Above, the top crumb is the first cheese ciabatta, proofed for 30 to 40 minutes; the bottom crumb is the fourth cheese ciabatta, proofed for approx. two hours. The lesson here is, proofing times can significantly affect crumb structure.
One of my biggest issue, as you may have already guessed, was transferring the wet, sticky dough from my homemade couche to the sheet pan. After consulting and receiving much needed advice from The Fresh Loaf (TFL) community, I will now proof my high hydration dough directly on parchment paper.
Another piece of advice offered by the TFL community was to use wheat flour in place of rice flour when dusting the couche. Evidently, rice flour isn’t easily absorbed by dough, which can leave unwelcome streak marks on the bottom of the bread, which contributes to a dry mouthfeel.
My future objective: Prepare and bake a palatable sourdough ciabatta, with a wildly open and translucent crumb.
My dear readers, I bid you a farewell and happy baking. :D