Week 68: Rustic Ciabatta

ITALY, by way of NEW ORLEANS: It took me a long time to find a recipe for a ciabatta that was not made with 100% white flour. and that actually worked (whole wheat can be tricky to work with). This is from Bellgarde Bakery in New Orleans, whose mission is to “connect community and ecology through gastronomy”. All of their grains are identity preserved and single origin, and they use olive oil sourced from San Antonio, and salt from Avery Island.

Whole Wheat Ciabatta

STEP 1: Hydrate flours

  • 300g bread flour
  • 150g white whole wheat flour
  • 90g whole wheat flour
  • 2g yeast (1/2 tsp)
  • 410g room temperature water
  1. Place bread flour, whole-wheat flours, yeast, and warm water in a large bowl. Using your hand as a claw, stir until dough forms a shaggy mass and no bits of dry flour remain. You can use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you prefer.
  2. Cover bowl with a tea towel; let stand 20 minutes. 

STEP 2: Add salt + oil

(You add the salt later so that it doesn’t absorb all the water in the first step.)

  1. Add salt to the remaining 3/4 cup warmish water, and stir to dissolve.
  2. Add oil to the water.
  3. Add this warm, salty, oily water to the wet dough and mix with the handle of of wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated and dough becomes cohesive. Again, you can use the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you prefer.
  4. Cover with a towel; let stand 15 minutes.

STEP 3: Proof

  1. (Transfer to an oiled bowl if you’ve been using the stand mixer.) Using wet hands, do some long stretch and folds — in the bowl — 3 times, rotating bowl a third turn with each fold. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
    • Repeat this 3 times, totaling 4 folding cycles over 1 hour.
  2. Lightly oil a 10″ x 8″ rectangular plastic container. Transfer dough to bin.
  3. With wet hands, do a coil fold, every 15 minutes over a period of an hour.
  4. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.

STEP 4 (Next day): Shape

  1. Preheat oven to 550°.
  2. Generously flour work surface
  3. Lay a tea towel in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and dust with flour
  4. Remove dough from fridge, and holding the container close to the work surface, tip it so the dough gently slips out.
  5. Dust top of dough generously with flour;
  6. Cut in half across the short side.
  7. Gently stretch each dough rectangle by hand into a roughly 8″ x 4″ rectangles.
  8. Place stretched dough rectangles on towel, pulling up small folds of cloth between each rectangle to keep dough separated. Cover dough rectangles with outer edges of towel or with a separate floured towel if necessary; let dough proof until slightly increased in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

STEP 5: Bake

  1. Just before baking, spray oven to create a steamy environment
  2. Gently invert the loaves onto a floured bread board (or piece of cardboard), then lay them on a baking sheet lined with an oversized piece of parchment paper. Create a tent in-between and on either side of them.
  3. Bake 5 minutes, then spray, bake 5 minutes then spray and reduce oven temperature to 500°F; bake until loaves are golden brown and a thermometer inserted in center of loaves registers 205°F, 1about 10 minutes more.
  4. Transfer baked loaves to a wire rack. Do not cut open until completely cooled.


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