Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ciabatta Biga Version - Peter Reinhart

When I first bought the book' The Bread Baker's Apprentice ' by Peter Reinhart, I was more diligent in making my own bread LOL! after a year, I have become more lazy - the culprit is ASTRO and all its lastest dramas- korean and HK :p  Thank God, the passion for homemade bread is ignited once again and last two weeks I have been baking from the book :)  I had baked Ciabatta -Poolish Version a year back and last week, I baked Ciabatta using Biga Version.   Please don't ask me what is the difference...for it looks and taste the same except the starter dough method is slightly different :p   I enjoyed Ciabatta dipped in olive balsamic vinegar sauce.  Yummy!

I will make 2 loaves each time or it will not be worth my time to make my own bread :)  I enjoy making bread without the machine.  Very relaxing and when you smell the aroma of freshly baked bread, it is worth the time and all the sweating!   I like Artisan bread for their crust....love the crunch and the soft interior....can you see how soft the interior is....the more holes you see , the better the bread.  I have yet to achieve the holes effect...I need to practice more :p

see how lovely the crust is.....nicely browned

the base of the ciabatta....cornmeal dusting...mmmm
it gives me the feel of living in the 30s LOL!

the air holes are there but not large enough
I am still not satisfied ,
 so looks like I will be baking more
Artisan bread in the future....Ciabatta I guess :)

mmmm....when I think of the delicious dip, I dont mind
baking my own Ciabatta :)

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

Making the Biga

2 1/2 cups  ( 11.25 ounces)  unbleached bread flour
1/2 teaspoon (.055 ounce)  instant yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons to 1 cup ( 7 to 8 ounces)  water, at room temperature


1. Stir together the flour and yeast in a 4 quart bowl ( or in the bowl of an electric mixer) Add 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the water, stirring until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball ( or mix on low speed for 1 minute with the paddle attachment)  Adjust the flour or water, according to need, so that th dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.  ( It is better to err on the sticky side, as you can adjust easier during kneading. It is harder to add water once the dough firms up ).

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes ( or mix on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes ), or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. The internal temperature should be 77º to 80ºF.

3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, or until it nearly doubles in size.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it lightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.  You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it in airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.

To make the Ciabatta bread


1. Remove the biga from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough . Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife.  Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.

2. To make the dough, stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a 4 -quart mixing bowl. Add the biga pieces and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water and the oil.  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.

Click here for the Ciabatta Poolish Version

Enjoy !

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  1. The ciabatta in balsamic vinegar looks divine. That is one gorgeous loaf!

  2. yeah, the holes are bigger compared to the previous ones and your crust is wonderful! i hope to try his marble rye bread next.