BBA Challenge 5 – Ciabatta

I’ve been behind in my Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge baking.  There are a couple of reasons, but mostly because some of the recent ones have been very dessert oriented, and I’m trying to avoid that somewhat.  I’ve also been lazy, of course.

Last week, I got everything going to go with ciabatta, however.  I’ve actually done this one before, but wanted to improve on it from the first time.  I did a poolish, which is a pre-mixture of flour, water and yeast, used as a starter for a full dough recipe.

ciabatta proofing

what I love about artisan breads is the use of a mix of gadgets and centuries-old baking methods.  I use a Kitchen Aid Professional 600 mixer to mix the dough, but I kneaded by hand this time.  I let the dough rise on the counter, with plenty of flour to keep it from sticking.

Ciabatta is a loose dough, meaning it’s got a lot of water in it and doesn’t hold a shape all that well, so it rises in a bit of a pile of dough, which is fine.  Looser doughs seem to tend to have bigger holes in the crumb, which I like.  This dough proofed nicely, and I used a dough cutter to divide it into three parts after it almost doubled in size.  Part of the low tech process was that I used a couche, which is a course linen, to let the loaves proof a second time.

ciabatta on the bge

The ciabatta is pretty generously sprinkled with flour through the process, which stays white even after baking.  The flour doesn’t really get incorporated in the dough but helps it not stick to everything.

I had the Big Green Egg fired up to about 500 degrees, and I misted it inside when I put the dough on the baking stone, then twice again, 30 seconds apart.  After that, I turned the vents down to settle in around 450, and turned the loaves around after about 10 minutes.  After that, it took about 8 more minutes for the internal temperature to be about 205, so they came off the cooker and onto a cooling rack.

ciabatta cooling

The crust came out nice and crunchy/chewy, if that makes sense.  It had some depth to it and great color.  The crumb still could use bigger holes, but the texture ended up being very nice.  Overall, I was really happy with these loaves, and will try more again.  I think the next time, I’ll try King Arthur’s Sir Lancelot flour, which is very high in protein, and may help with bigger holes in the crumb.

Ciabatta slices

Over the next weeks, the challenge will be digging more into Italian and French breads, so I’ll be keeping up a bit better!

Bottom of ciabatta

Ciabatta crust

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

15 comments

  1. Looks mighty tasty especially for a first go.

  2. Your crust AND your crumb look great. :)
    I know I’m going to try this one again sometime.
    Have fun,
    Susie

  3. But first you need to make it through a few more sweet breads! :-) I just end up giving most of the sweet stuff away, although the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut bread was so good that I ate an entire loaf by myself!

    The Ciabatta looks great! The BGE is probably perfectly suited for this type of bread!

  4. Habenerogal,

    Thanks… It’s the second time I’ve tried this, & it definitely was better this time.

    Susie,

    I liked tge texture & flavor, but I want those really big holes in the crumb! :)

  5. Nicole,

    I’ll probably try a couple more sweet breads, if I have to. :)

    The bge actually works great with the sweet ones, too, as it’s very controllable. Tge Greek celebration bread was fantastic off the egg.

  6. That looks wonderful! I have not undertaken bread on the smoker yet, but someday. This is inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  7. RDOwens,

    I don’t know if you can call a bge a smoker when it’s holding 450-500 degrees. I just call it a cooker then… It’s a lot more versatile than a typical smoker.

  8. I did make it and it turned out that I did not get the big holes, like in the pictures. We did enjoy the bread. I did freeze some and brought a loaf on a camping trip. Was eaten in no time. I think you’ll enjoy the baguettes.

  9. Hélène

    LOVE the baguette photos on your blog! I’ve been using that recipe for a couple of years now, and really like it, though I’m torn between that one and Pain L’Ancienne. I did confirm a source for bulk Sir Lancelot flour this weekend, at a great price, so I’m moving up in protein.

    I think I’m also going to start kneading by hand. Next week, I’m going to try the same recipe side by side, one kneading with my Kitchen Aid, the other by hand, to see if I get a different crumb from it.

    One thing this challenge has done is get me re-interested in bread baking!

  10. That big green egg is looking more and more attractive. Love the bread

  11. Anne Marie,

    The XL BGE is the way to go for bread, IMO. The large only fits a couple of loaves, but the XL has room for several. The bread has a great taste off it, too.

  12. I have had trouble with this recipe. I just cannot get the wholes right, and I like a wholy ciabatta. It had great flavor, but it was too dense for what it is supposed to be. I tried the recipe twice, both ways the book suggests, same results each time. I have had luck with other recipes from the book, just not this one. I am still looking for my ciabatta recipe!

  13. Alicia,

    I’m going to play around with hand kneading, higher protein flour and letting it proof at a cooler temp to see if that makes for bigger holes. The cell structure was pretty good, though.

  14. Looks beautiful! I am going to have to redo by cibatta. It turned out great the first time but it can only get better. Plus it was one of my favorites to make.

    I need to invest in a Green Egg or Bubba Keg because everyone grilling bread is making me jealous!

  15. Jeff,

    We’re going to do a steak tasting on a weekend soon… can you make it on a Saturday? If so, maybe you can come down a bit early with some dough in hand and try baking on the egg beforehand if you want to try it out.

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