Monday, March 7, 2011

Ciabatta Poolish Version

After my bread book -  'The Bread Baker's Apprentice ' by Peter Reinhart arrived from Book Depository , I have been holding the book dear to my heart and every night I will read on it and I told myself it is time to make something out of it or the Wild Boar will surely pass a comment like " see you reading it everyday but have yet to see you making something out of it "  Well....last Saturday, I decided to surprise WB with homemade Ciabatta.  I know he will love it coz it really goes well with balsamic and olive oil dip.  My very first hand kneaded bread and it turned out satisfactory even though it doesn't have many big shiny holes as shown in the book nor was it slipper shaped LOL!   I promise ,the next one will be better with many shiny holes and slipper shaped  :p  It has a rustic look though with a crunchy crust and a soft interior.

It was definitely not a disappointment and it further encourages me to try out many more of his recipes from the book.  I told WB that I will be ordering another one by Peter Reinhart  "Artisan Breads Every Day,"  recommended by Pei Lin  :))  He didn't make any comment but digest what I have to say and of course he didn't complained since I made something out of it and he enjoyed the Ciabatta bread that I made for dinner.   The passion for making bread  is once again ignited , so hang on I will be sharing more on bread making and I hope to master the art of extraordinary bread making . At the moment I have one only , so it is dear to me and every word from the book  is being digested with passion :p 

" Ciabatta  - this bread, with its big shiny holes and amorphous has taken America by storm , as it did Italy during the past fifty years. It hails from an age-old tradition of rustic, slacken dough breads, the name ciabatta was not named until the mid twentieth century by an enterprising baker in the Lake Como region and thus dubbed his loaf ciabatta di Como ( slipper bread of Como )  You can make this dough with a large amount of either poolish or biga and formulas for both versions follow. It can also be made with the addition of milk and olive oil to tenderize the dough and as long as you make a slipper shape you can call it caibatta "  

I had a good laugh after typing this out  , I forgot to shape it slipper shape so can I call it ciabatta ???...yess Peter Reinhart says in the book " this rustic bread dough can be formed into a number of shapes beyond the classic slipper, such as the long stirato, stubby pain rustique , or round pugliese style " ....awww I am safe mine is the pugliese style then LOL!   

Ciabatta is best taken dip in balsamic and olive oil .  For me , I made my balsamic dip with the addition of fresh chopped garlic and mixed herbs . It tasted good and I served them with our fish meal as shown below . I made some green apple and cauliflower salad and some roasts purple potatoes and wild mushroom soup out of the can :p  . It was a wonderful day making ciabatta and ended  the day with a wonderful meal.  A happy Saturday it was for Wild Boar and myself .

Ciabatta Poolish Version - adapted from " The Bread Baker's Apprentice " Peter Reinhart


3 1/4 cups  ( 22.75 ozs )  poolish ( recipe below)
3 cups  ( 13.5 ) unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 tsp  ( .44 ozs) salt
1 1/2 tsp ( .17 ozs)  instant yeast
6 tbsp to 3/4 cup ( 3-6 ozs ) water ( or substittue milk or buttermilk for all or part of the water, lukewarm )

semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Remove the poolish from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough to take off the chill.

2. To make the dough, stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a 4 -quart mixing bowl. Add the poolish and 6 tbsp of the water. With a large metal spoon ( or on low speed with the paddle attachment ), mix until the ingredients form a sticky ball. If there is still some loose flour, add the additional water as needed and continue to mix. If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion  with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the glutten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 5 - 7 minutes , or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. Switch to the dough hook for the final 2 minutes of mixing . The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the vbowl. You may need to add additonal flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.

3.  Sprinkle enough flour on the counter to make a bed about 8 inches square. Using a bowl scraper or spatula dipped in water, transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and proceed with the stretch-and-fold method. Mist the top of the dough and spray oil, again dust with flour, and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.

4.  Let rest for 30 minutes.  Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with spray oil, dust with flour, and cover. Allow the covered dough to ferment on the counter for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.

5.  Set up a couche ( as described on pade 38 ) ( I used aluminium foil to hold the dough in this case ) . Carefully remove the plastic from the dough and proceed to shaping the dough. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and dust the dough with more flour, then cover the cloth with a towel.

6.  Proof for 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, or until the dough has noticeably swelled.

7.  Prepare the oven for hearth baking , making sure to have an empty steam pan in place. Preheat the oven to 500ºF .

8.  Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and very gently transfer the dough pieces to the peel or pan, using the pastry scraper if you need support. Lift the dough from each end and tug the dough out to a length of 9 to 12 inches. If the dough bulges too high in the middle, gently dimple it down with your fingertips to even out the height of the loaf. Slide the 2 doughs ( or bake one at a time if you prefer) onto the baking stone ( or bake directly on the sheet pan)  Pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pand and close the door. After 30 seconds, open the door, spray the side walls of the oven with water, and close the door.  Repeat twice more at 30 seconds intervals. After the final spray, turn the oven setting down to  450ºF and bake for 10 minutes.  Rotate the loaves 180 degrees, if necessary, for even baking and continue baking for 5 -10 minutes longer, or until done. The bread should register 205ºF in the center and should be golden in color ( but the flour streaks will also give it a dusty look ) The loaves will feel quite hard and crusty at first but will soften as they cool.

9. Transfer the bread from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing or serving.

Poolish - makes 23 ozs ( enough for Ciabatta, Poolish Version )

2 1/2 cups (11.25 ozs) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups ( 12 ozs ) water; at room temperature
1/4 tsp ( .03 oz ) instant yeast

Stir together the flour, water and yeast in a mixing bowl until all of the flour is hydrated. The dough should be soft and sticky and look like thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 3 - 4 hours, or until the sponge becomes bubbly and foamy. Immediately refrigerate it. It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

" Just as bread nourishes the body, The Bread Baker's Apprentice nourishes
the baker's soul. Peter Reinhart's explicit recipes and detailed instructions
are so well written that he takes the mystery out of the mastery,
giving you the sense that he is standing right beside you,
coaching you to success. " 

 - Flo Braker, author of The Simple Art Of Perfect Baking

*            *            *


  1. Nice job, Elin. Finally, after waited for so long! haha... The crust looks perfect & crispy. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward for more.*wink*

  2. My family loves ciabatta, but I've never made one. After seeing your beautiful photos, I now will!

  3. Elin, baking is really addictive, lol! Your family can enjoy fresh breads from now on. Wonderful!

  4. looking good and rusty!! i'll also try to keep this book in mind for my next order..

  5. i learnt something new, about what's ciabatta (: it look realy nice! (:

  6. hi Elin

    you are going to be quite the bread baker when your done with those books! I cant wait to see what else you come up with, your Ciabatta looks wonderful!

  7. Your bread looks really lovely, Elin. Ciabatta is a favorite of mine and I serve it a lot. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. Claire...yup but the most important it is tasty :)

    Kristy...thanks...haha I am happy it turned out great :)

    Lizzy...oh you must try ...once you get round to it you will love to make your own :) are right ...bread making is addictive and now I am trying to think which one I am going to try out next from the book :) will love the book...lots of tips and by the time I finished with it..I will be a pro :p

    Jasmine...hahah yup everyday we learn something new :P

    Chef Dennis...thank you so much for your words of encouragement :) I hope I will good in bread making....I love making them...the kneading is so therapuetic for the soul :p

    Mary....thank you Mary. You and Chef Dennis always a blessing to me whenever you drop by :) Have a nice day too Mary and God Bless you too :)

  9. i've recently got hooked on bread looking forward to get my hands on the book as well! your bread looks really country and rustic :)

  10. Thanks for sharing your recipes. I've tried some of your recipes and they're delicious and reliable. I'll try this recipe one day.
    This recipe is a high hydration dough like sour dough so it requires a different approach of handling the dough without adding to much flour.
    This is an interesting video on how to handle sourdough

    This is blogger has a lovely ciabatta recipe.