Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Craig Ponsford's Ciabatta
Who is Craig Ponsford, you ask?
I would ask the same question, except that I have Maggie Glezer's book, Artisan Baking, and she tells me that Craig Ponsford has a bakery in Sonoma, California. Lucky man.
And lucky us, because he was willing to give Maggie Glezer his recipe for ciabatta.
Before I start in on the bread, however, I'd like to thank Tara Snyder for listing this blog as one of the top 50 bread blogs. Although as #50, I may have been somewhat of an afterthought, I'm still honored to be in such great company. And you'll want to check out some of these blogs: the listing includes both the tried and true, and the (probably) new to you.
Back to bread. After I make a soft-crusted sandwich loaf, I often have a hankering for something with crispy crust and big holes. This ciabatta fills the bill.
Making this ciabatta is a two-day affair. The first day, however, takes just a few minutes. You mix four different flours (all-purpose, bread, rye, and whole wheat) with some water that's been merely kissed by yeast--the most minute amount of yeast possible. After 24 hours, this little lump of dough has tripled in size, and you're ready for Day 2.
On the morning of the second day, (sounds kind of Biblical, doesn't it?), this multi-grain starter is mixed in with more flour, yeast, salt, and a lot of water. It's a wet dough, and would be difficult to handle if you tried to make it by hand. The KitchenAid is a life saver here.
After five minutes of mixing, the dough is easier to handle, but still sticky.
The technical term is "gloppy."
You pour this gloppy mixture into a bowl, and let it rise for about 3 hours. But don't go away. Your work is not done.
This dough requires you to turn it every 20 minutes, until it's been turned four times. Turning simply means that you turn it out on the counter, gently stretch it into a square, and fold over all four sides. After being turned four times, the dough is still soft, but considerably easier to handle.
Finally, after about 3 hours, the dough is ready to be stretched once more, floured, and covered in a floured tea towel (or couche) for another 45 minutes. There are no pictures of the tea towel hiding the dough.
Although this bread may look misshapen, I'm actually very pleased with the way it turned out. I knew that "ciabatta" means "slipper" in Italian, and I always assumed it was a pretty satin dancing slipper. But, according to Glezer, it's meant to look like an old grandpa's slipper. I think mine definitely bears a resemblance to Grandpa's beat-up slipper, especially if Grandpa was inclined to dump flour on his slippers. No, I don't know why he would.
In order for the crispy crust and full flavor to develop, this bread needs to be completely baked, so set the timer for another five minutes after you think it's done. Then it will be perfect.
This is an excellent bread--the kind you could just keep on eating. Plain, buttered, slathered with cheese, dipped in olive oil, used to sop up spaghetti sauce--however you want to enjoy it, that's the way it's meant to be enjoyed.
The recipe in Artisan Baking makes two loaves. I made only half a recipe, which is the recipe I'm including. Obviously, it would be easy to double.
Craig Ponsford's Ciabatta
--from Artisan Baking, by Maggie Glezer
1/8 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 cup water (110 to 115 F)
100 grams unbleached bread flour
50 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
7.5 grams whole-wheat flour
7.5 grams rye flour
92.5 grams water
Sprinkle the yeat over the warm water, stir, and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Mix the flours in a bowl. Measure 1/4 teaspoon of the yeasted water into the flour mixture. Then add the rest of the water, using warmer water in winter and cold water in the summer.
Mix by hand until the flour is absorbed. This is a very stiff biga. It's ready in about 24 hours, when it's tripled in size. It may spend the day looking like it's doing nothing, but it will expand eventually.
162.5 grams unbleached AP flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 3/8 teaspoons salt
171 grams lukewarm water
Combine flour, yeast and salt in bowl of stand mixer. Add the water and biga and mix the dough on low speed with paddle attachment until it forms a rough dough. Raise speed to medium and mix for another five minutes. If the dough doesn't seem wet enough (it's "gloppy"), add a little water.
Scrape the dough into a container and cover tightly. Let it ferment until about doubled in bulk, 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn the dough 4 times at 20-minute intervals; after the fourth turn, let dough rise for the rest of the 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Flour a tea towel. Gently stretch out the dough and fold loosely into thirds, using a business-letter turn. Place seam side down on the floured cloth, sprinkle more flour on top, and cover with another towel. Proof about 45 minutes, or until the dough barely springs back when pressed.
Preheat oven to 450, putting a rack in the top third of the oven. Place a baking stone on the top rack.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a peel. Flip the loaf onto it so it is seam side up. Carefully stretch to make the dough "vaguely rectangular." Dimple the dough all over with your fingertips. Slide bread onto the baking stone with the parchment paper. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until very dark brown. Rotate loaf halfway through bsking.
Cool on a rack.
Posted by Marie at 4:36 PM