Ciabatta (at last)

Ciabatta (at last)

You might be thinking “ciabatta, so what?” But wait, this is big news around here. For the longest time, I had a ciabatta issue. It was my bread nemesis. I could not make good ciabatta to save my life. I tried several different recipes, repeated the attempts, and had flat, boring loaf after loaf with no airy, holey structure to be found. I would sulk and avoid wet doughs all together for weeks, and then when the sting of defeat had dulled, I would eventually try again. I was sure there was something wrong with me like I was missing the gene that allows a baker to produce good ciabatta. Just last week, I worked up the courage to try it one more time, and boom, believe it or not, I finally got great results. I’ve been reading by Jeffrey Hamelman, and that’s what inspired this latest attempt. No matter how many bread making books I read, I always learn new things when I pick up another. This book breaks down each step of making bread and clearly describes not just what to do but why and exactly how. For mixing dough, there’s a chart that shows the time necessary for different types of mixers since speeds vary. The book is detailed enough for instructing professional bread bakers, and it’s extremely informative for curious home bakers as well. Because of the chart, I knew exactly how long to mix the dough at each step of the recipe for ciabatta, and I finally got the proper gluten development that was off in all those other attempts. As the dough fermented, I could tell it looked better this time. I didn’t get my hopes up until I pulled the loaves from the oven, but I was pretty sure the dough was headed for success.

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