If there is a favourite bread for me, it is the Ciabatta. I simply love the open crumb of the Ciabatta and the high hydration dough which makes it both a delicious and frustrating experience. The Ciabatta can be made with only yeast but I would totally recommend making with a sponge of some kind. That gives the loaf a chewy texture and a mouthful of flavour. It does take longer to make a ciabatta with poolish or biga but the time is totally worth it.
Key factors for a delicious Ciabatta
Time is one of the most important factors for a delicious ciabatta. You mix the flour water and a bit of yeast for the poolish / sponge and let it get active. Depending on the weather and temperature the poolish will take around 8-14 hours to get alive and bubbly. It will increase in volume significantly and be ready for use in the dough.
High hydration is another key feature of a ciabatta. Expert bakers even go upto 90% hydration but I have restricted myself to 80% of the flour weight. The poolish also adds some additional hydration to the dough. The main thing to remember is to not give in to the temptation of adding more flour to the dough when shaping it. The dough needs to be soft and tough to shape. That is what makes the ciabatta unique.
Stretch and fold the dough to give it more strength. When the dough has enough strength it will be able to take the rise of the bread well and the bread will get its light and airy touch. It also helps the open crumb of the bread. If the dough is not stretched and folded well then the bread can become dense and hard to chew.
PIN IT FOR LATER
This bread is inspired and adapted from here.
Ciabatta bread with Poolish
- OTG or MIcrowave Oven to bake
For the Poolish
- 80 gms All purpose flour
- 80 gms Water
- Pinch Instant yeast
For the Dough
- 150 gms All purpose flour
- 120 gms Water
- 1/2 tsp Instant yeast
- 4 gms Salt
- Mix the flour, water and yeast for the poolish. Ensure no dry flour remains
- Set aside the poolish for 8-10 hours at 28C till it is alive and bubbling. If the weather is cooler it can take longer to prove
- Mix the ingredients for the dough – flour, water, yeast, salt and poolish in a large bowl to ensure no dry flour remains
- Once the dough is mixed, knead for a few minutes, cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Pull the dough from one end, stretch it and fold it to the middle of the dough. Do the same for the other 3 sides so that the dough is stretched and folded from all sides. Cover and set aside
- Perform 4 rounds of stretch and fold at 30 minute intervals. So the total time at the end of 4 rounds will be 2 hours
- After 2 hours, the dough would have doubled in volume. Transfer the dough to a well floured surface and shape it into a log, around 3" wide and 9-10" long.
- Let the dough prove for 45 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 230C and add a tray with 10-12 ice cubes at the bottom rack of the oven
- Bake for 35-40 minutes till the top of the bread turns light to medium brown
- Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing