Ciabatta – Add a Lotta Watta

This week’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge bread was Ciabatta, a wonderful, holey Italian bread. I was really looking forward to making this bread. It’s a simple artisan bread, made of flour, yeast, salt, water, and maybe a little oil. I had never baked Ciabatta, so I was excited about shaping the “slippers”. And, even though I love the enriched breads we have been making so far, to be honest, I was ready for a simple, straight dough.

In typical fashion, I decided to make two versions — the poolish and the biga. I actually made the poolish a week or so before baking them both together. My first try at poolish did not result in the big holes I was expecting, so I increased the water a bit on my second attempt. 

Poolish (left) and Biga (right) Ciabatta Dough

Biga (left) and Poolish (right) Ciabatta Dough

Even though I increased the water in the poolish a bit (by about an ounce or two), you can see that it is considerably firmer than the biga version. I think if I weren’t familiar with working with wet doughs, I would have been a bit freaked out by the biga dough. It was really wet.

 

The biga (on the right) is much wetter than the poolish.

The biga (on the right) is much wetter than the poolish.

 

After fermenting - biga in front

After fermenting - biga in front

 

The poolish dough (left) held its shape better

The poolish dough (left) held its shape better

 

Poolish Ciabatta - Ready for the Oven

Poolish Ciabatta - Ready for the Oven

 

Bake-a Da Biga

Bake-a Da Biga

 I had originally planned to bake all four loaves at the same time, but by the time they were done proofing, they were too big. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I had stretched the dough, and the biga loaves relaxed a bit too much, resulting in flat loaves.

 

The biga Ciabatta (right) is a bit flat,...

The biga Ciabatta (right) is a bit flat,...

 

But look at dem holes!!!

But look at dem holes!!!

 

 
Both breads were delicious. I think I liked the biga version a little better. The crumb was open, chewy and really held the herb-infused olive oil well.
 
Up next:  cinnamon rolls and sticky buns (of course I’m making them both!)
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14 Comments

  1. Hélène said,

    July 22, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Beautiful, mine did not have big holes like yours.

  2. July 9, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Beautiful breads! Very pretty holes…

  3. Kelly said,

    July 7, 2009 at 7:51 am

    BE-utiful! Looks wonderful, just like it should. Well done!

  4. July 7, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Good looking ciabatta! You got more holes than me – I did the poolish version. But we still loved the flavour and I’ll definitely make this again. 🙂

  5. Di said,

    July 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks for the comparison! I was trying to decide which to try first. Biga it is! Your loaves look great.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 6, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      Thanks. I was really happy with the biga version. I would recommend adding the max water. Don’t worry if it seems gloppy; it will come together.

  6. July 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    AWESOME! Thanks for the comparison. Now I wish I had made some biga fir the holes. My three types of ciabatta are just about to go into the oven. Fingers crossed!

  7. July 6, 2009 at 11:17 pm

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  8. July 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    As a fellow experimenter, I greatly appreciated seeing the biga and poolish versions side by side. While a little flatter, the biga still had the better looking crumb (bigger holes). Thanks for sharing your curious nature with us. It’s biga all the way for me next time. I won’t be “poolish” again!

    • gaaarp said,

      July 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks. I enjoyed reading about your BBA vs. Cooks Illustrated experiment, too.

  9. Arundathi said,

    July 2, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    the biga version looks so much more holey – lovely! yup, guess lotta watta is the key!

  10. July 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Holy! Holier than me by a long way. Yes it’s the more wata!
    I’ve done this so many times by still don’t get consistent holes.
    Truly you got beautiful ciabatta!

  11. July 2, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Nice job! Your ciabatta looks great! I need to try it again some time as well. So many breads so little time.
    Cathy

  12. Susie said,

    July 2, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Awesome! I plan on trying ciabatta again too.
    Great job,
    Susie


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