I’ve been dreaming of light, open-crumb breads for a long time now and especially Ciabattas, these very light but crisp Italian bread have been tempting me for quite a while. So when I found Jason’s quick Cocodrillo Ciabatta recipe and saw all the gorgeous airy breads there, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t expect to much flavorwise, because it’s a straight, rather quick dough, but I had big hopes for the crumb.
So, I started the fight with this extremely high-hydration dough. I followed the second formula there, the one with semolina. But I divided the batch into two and substituted in one part the semolina by whole-wheat flour and kneaded them seperately.
I was very impressed by how well the dough pulled together after some kneading. I have never experienced that like this time before. The whole-grain share of the dough was allowed to rest somewhat longer than the semolina part, so it felt rubbery already after less than 15 minutes in my Kenwood on Speed 3. The Semolina share needed about 20 minutes at speed 3 to clean up the bowl.
I used somewhat less yeast (1 teaspoon for 500 g of flour) and it worked well. The dough tripled in size within three or four hours and slackened a lot. The gluten was still very strong, it felt somewhat like chewing gum.
The dough was very challenging to handle after the second fermentation. I found out that it’s the easiest to proof every “loaf” on a well-floured piece of cloth which you can turn around in order to let it “drop” on the peel. (I overdid it, I had too much flour on my piece of cloth so that I had to brush some of the flour of before I threw it into the oven.) without the cloth-technique it was pretty much impossible to not harm the dough and degass it completely. I used this method for the last piece of dough, and this was the one which did rise the most. The other pieces were smaller or bigger disasters . . .
I took the crumb shots below while I was preparing a lunch sandwich. It’s the whole-grain version of the Ciabatta, and as you can see the crumb is indeed very open and light. It made a dream of a salmon sandwich!
So, conclusion: I will continue to try my luck on ciabattas, especially formulas with some whole-grain included sound very tempting to me. The sandwich was so delicious and I’d like to have more ciabatta sandwichs to come. I’m sure that it should be possible to make open crumb ciabattas with some whole wheat even at lower hydrations. This was just to much of juggling for my taste.