4 Hour Ciabatta, or how to make a single crusty loaf of flavorful bread in an afternoon
Oct. 26, 2012 11:44 am
Updated: Oct. 26, 2012 11:24 pm
Well, thinking about having a loaf of bread with dinner tonight but you don't have any biga, poolish or pre-ferment? Also, you just want one loaf, not four, not two but one. Well then this recipe with technique is for you. I've been experimenting with
various flour combinations for some time now and I've settled on a mix that gives me very good and very flavorful results. Even without a pre-ferment. The recipe uses a 50/50 blend of a strong All Purpose (AP) flour with the typically weak but highly flavored
and silky Italian dopio zero "00" flour.
A word about ingredients first. Breads like this one typically have only 4 components: flour, water, salt and yeast. Your end result will be the combination of the quality of those four and shorting yourself on any one of these will lessen the quality of your
end product. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and am lucky to have an artisan mill in the area,
Giusto's that sells top quality organic flours used by high end restaurants in San Francisco and the Napa Valley. Other good choices are King Arthur Flour or Bob's Red Mill. For the "00" flour, again Giusto's has
a wonderful "00" grind, or please use Caputo tipo "00" (Antico Molino Napoli Anitmo Caputo "00") from Naples. The Caputo flour from Napoli is one of the best flours on the planet! Next, your water. The taste of breads and pizzas are influenced greatly by the
water you use. It is said that New York Pizzas are the best because of the New York City tap water. While that could be true, it could also be that NYC pizzaiolos have learned how to work with their water. In any case, please use bottled spring water, not
your tap water. You don't know if your local water supply has added calcium or other minerals that could effect yeast growth or add flavors you don't want. I use sea salt and bulk Active Dry Yeast from Red Star. You could use instant yeast but I myself favor
the active dry. SAF is another good yeast choice.
- Flour Mix - 200g (7+ oz) - 100%
- All Purpose Flour - 100g (3.5 oz)
- tipo "00" Flour - 100g (3.5 oz)
- Spring Water - 150g (5.25 oz) - 75%
- Sea Salt - 5g (~3/4 tsp) - 2.5%
- Active Dry Yeast - 2g (1/2 tsp) - 1%
Notice that I given the baker's percentages in the formula in case you want to vary the amount of flour. The recipe above will give you ~350g of bread dough, enough for a medium size loaf of Ciabatta adequate for 2-4 people to accompany your dinner.
Alright so let's get started.
- In a mixing bowl, weigh in the 100g of AP flour followed by 100g of "00" flour. Add the 150g of bottled water and mix with a wooden spoon or wooden spatula until all the dry bits have been incorporated. Roll and fold a few times and then let sit for 20-30
minutes to autolyse. This step is important: do not skip or rush it. Let the dough sit for at least 20 minutes so the flour can absorb the water and begin to form its bonds. (See #1)
- After the autolyse, sprinkle some of the dry yeast on top of the dough and then roll/fold to incorporate the yeast. By roll/fold I mean taking your wooden spoon, roll the dough slightly, lift a portion and fold it back in. Repeat until all the yeast has
been mixed into the dough. This is a very wet dough (75%) and there's no need to hydrate the yeast first, the dough will do that for you. Today's Active Dry yeasts are very good and you don't have to hydrate them. Next, do the same with the salt (notice yeast
first and then salt in that order). Sprinkle some salt on the dough (not to much) and roll and fold to incorporate. Repeat until all salt has been added and then continue to roll and fold the dough a few turns to work the dough. Because it is a high hydration
dough I would not try and knead by hand. When you are finished remove the dough to an oiled bowl and cover. (#2)
- Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. You will turn the dough 3 times over a two hour fermentation period. After the first 30 minutes, wet your hand well and then dip it into the bowl, pick up an end and fold it back over the center gently. Turn the bowl 1/4
turn and fold again. Do this two more times and you will have completed a full turn. Lastly, pick the entire dough up and turn it over. Cover and let rest for 30 more minutes. Do this every 30 minutes for 3 complete turns with the total time being 2 hours
including the last 30 minute rest (#3). Remember to fold gently, no punching down here.
- After two hours, flour a board generously (this dough is very wet) and gently roll the dough out of the bowl onto your board. Again emphasizing the word gently, pick up the dough from one end, stretch and fold it over to the middle. Do the same from the
opposite end like you are folding an envelope. Then either gently roll back and forth to make a cylinder shape or pick up the dough and stretch lengthwise, you can even allow gravity to help you out. You should end up with a classic Ciabatta shape about 8-10
inches long. (#4)
- Take a pizza peel or baking tray and put some parchment paper on it with a slight dusting of flour. Move your Ciabatta onto the parchment, dust the top well with flour and cover with a tea towel or two and allow to proof for one hour (#5). If you have experience
working with wet doughs you could do the shaping directly on the parchment instead of the board but since the dough is very wet it will definitely stick to the parchment if it finds a spot that's not floured. The last thing you want is to rip the dough. If
you do though (rip it), just patch it up and let it rest for 15 minutes before shaping.
- While your dough is proofing, heat your oven up to 470 along with a rectangular pizza stone. You will also want to add steam. What I've done is to add a couple of adobe quarry tiles that I bought in Home Depot to an old pan on the lower rack in the oven.
The quarry tiles add more mass to the over that will retain heat and release a ton of steam when I pour 2 cups of cold water over them at 470 degrees. So if you can, put a pan in the lower rack of your oven and add a few tiles.
- After an hour, your oven and tiles are at 470 degrees and it's time to place the bread in the oven. Have 2 cups of cold water ready. Slide the dough with parchment onto the stone and then quickly pour the two cups of cold water into the pan and close the
oven door. Let this bake for 35 minutes at 470. Check when there's about 10 minutes left to go and turn the bread if one side is coloring more than the other. Pull it out, let rest on a rack for an hour and enjoy (#6, #7)
- Of course there are other things you can do with this bread (#8)
So give it a try and let me know what you think. I'm very pleased with the results and my family agrees that this is a bread with a lot of flavor. Also remember that if you substitute the tipo "00" flour with something else, you won't have this recipe and it
won't taste the same. If you want a softer loaf, substitute bread flour for the AP flour. It will be very tasty but not as crunchy.
So, 30 minutes for mixing and autolyse; 2 hours for fermentation and turning, 1 hour for proofing and 35 minutes to bake. In all, a single loaf of bread in just over 4 hours.
Next, and building on this recipe
I'll explain how to make this with "yesterday's" bread that will triple the flavor and get better every day.
#1 - Mix flour and water, then let rest
#2 - After mixing in yeast and salt, remove to an oil coated bowl
#3 - Folded dough
#4 - Shape gently into the classic Ciabatta slipper shape
#5 - Ciabatta on parchment paper
#6 - Fresh out of the oven
#7 - Crusty Ciabatta
#8 - Ciabatta Pizza!