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Archive for September 2009

Eric Kayser’s Ciabatta

In the wilderness of blogsphere Ciabatta seems to be the most popular of breads. At some point every cooking blog will have a recipe for this classic Italian bread posted. It usually is made with a starter called “biga”, which is a stiff or moderately loose mixture made from water, flour and yeast. Versions made entirely from a natural leaven can be found too. Think BBQ, think an Italian-style dinner, think picnic, Ciabatta is the bread for it.

I have made this recipe by Eric Kayser many times with success. Like all breads from the book “100% pain” this one uses both, a liquid levain and a small amount of yeast, here approx. 0.35% to 100% of flour. The texture is open and light, yet the liquid sourdough enhances the crust and gives the bread crumb some ‘bite’.

Although not a product of rocket-science, it is a difficult bread, and making it requires ‘a experience’ as Borat would say. It commands the baker’s actions at correct times corrsponding to the readiness of the dough to go to the next stage of fermentation. The dough must be handled with care and ease, which is hard because it is a soft dough. By the way, my trials were best when extending the final fermentation to the point of over-proofing.


‘La Ciabatta’ (makes 2 smallish ones)

  • 250g strong white flour (here: German Type 550)
  • 175g barely handwarm water
  • 75g liquid levain, hydration: 100%
  • 7g sea salt
  • 1g fresh yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the water, let stand for 20 minutes, then mix with the other ingredients to a soft dough. Put it into an oiled bowl. Let stand for 2 hours,folding the dough every 30 minutes. The dough should have risen but not doubled or be too puffy.

Put onto the floured workbench, divide into two pieces, pre-shape into rectangles and put onto a rye-floued towel. Let rest for 45 minutes. Turn the pieces of dough over and put onto baking paper, stretching them a little. Let rest for another 45 minutes.

Optional: Slash with one deep cut diagonally to release extra tension (the dough’s, not yours)
Not optional: Put into a 240°C hot oven, which has been heated with a bowl of water sitting on the floor of the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes reducing the heat to 220°C.




Written by theinversecook

28 September 2009 at 21:47

Pizza forever

with 2 comments

Just to follow up on the pizza topic. I made seven pizze last week and as usual futzed around with the dough. This was my take on a recipe I caught on TV and might have been riddled with many errors, especially because there is never a pen handy when I watch TV.

Yeasterday I made another pizza dough which I think is very good too, even better than the one I posted about. Perhaps running the risk of making it sound like a tad too intricate; I’m trying to keep flavors separated to create clear contrasts. For example, no olive oil in the dough and only vegetable oil to prevent the dough sticking to the plastic bag I use for retardation, i.e. slow rising in the fridge overnight. Then I use a good splash of an everyday fruity olive oil for the finished pizza as flavoring. Perhaps the most ottimo result to date. Also made the dough made by hand (not counting the dough scraper).

In fairness, the oven I am using unleashes an inferno of above 350°C onto the unsuspecting dough, baking it in a closed space and in the proximity of two red hot heating elements and a thin baking stone. It’s not an absolute prerequisite but closer to a real pizza oven than the one I bake bread in.

Impasto per pizza ‘modo mio’ (makes 3 crusts)

  • 200g strong white flour (50%)
  • 200g plain flour (50%)
  • 260g cold water (65%)
  • 4g fresh yeast (1%)
  • 5g sea salt (1.25%)

Dump the flour onto the workbench, distribute it a little and make a big well in the center. Pour the cold water into it. Move one hand in circular movements gradually picking up the flour. When everything is a lumpy mass and there are no dripping wet spots, rub hands clean, use the dough scrapter to amass this white crumbly stuff in the center and knead briefly to a soft dough. Now add the yeast and keep kneading, last add the salt and finish kneading to a smooth and soft and sticky dough.

Check this video at the 1:30 mark to see how a proper baker would mix dough by hand.

Let the dough rise for one hour. Put the dough into a plastic bag, which has been brushed with vegetable oil on the inside. Seal and put into fridge overnight. The next day take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for 45 at room temperature. Divide into three pieces, shape into tight little balls and let rest covered for 1 hour. Shape pizze, spread with your favorite pizza sauce. I use crushed or blitzed canned tomatoes. Try to get rid of the seeds that are inside the tomatoes, since they taste acidic. Add the cheese, then toppings. The finished pizza can be drizzled with olive oil for flavor and a glistening finish. Many more things can be added once the pizza is baked, like prosciutto, rucola, basil, fresh oregano or even already cooked meat.

Written by theinversecook

26 September 2009 at 00:59

66 percent rye

with 6 comments

This is another close-textured, but not dense, loaf made with a good quantity of rye. The lower profile is typical of breads made with 60% or more rye flour, as rye flour weakens the dough considerably. The crust tastes sharply caramalized and the crumb, if you were to cut into it, a little flat directly after the bread has come out of the oven, but it will be a mildly flavored and delicious loaf after a 12-hour-rest in a cool place.

Also, it seems that my new sourdough starter is gaining momentum.


66 percent rye

Sourdough build

  • 175g whole-rye flour
  • 140g water
  • 10g mature rye sourdough culture, hydration: 100%

Mix and let stand covered for 18-24 hours at room temperature.


  • 120g rye flour
  • 150g strong white flour
  • 200g water
  • 9g salt
  • 4.5g fresh yeast
  • Sourdough build

Bulk fermentation: 30 minutes
Final fermentation: 1 hour
Bake at 230°C for 15 minutes, with steam, then reduce heat to 200°C and bake for further 40 minutes.



Written by theinversecook

25 September 2009 at 13:06

Posted in Bao, Bread, Brot, food, pain, pane, Recipe

…and mine

with 11 comments

Topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, oregano, red chile peppers, garlic and artichokes.

–Bigger picture–


Written by theinversecook

23 September 2009 at 16:23

Alfons Schuhbeck’s pizza

with 2 comments

From the Latest installment of ‘Lanz kocht, a German cooking show hosted by Markus Lanz. Alfons ‘Don Alfonso’ Schuhbeck strikes again. Pizza with shrimps, cabanossi, rabbit meat, artichokes, porcini and pesto. The dialogues that ensued were quite legendary. I have to say though, given that the pizza was made in a normal oven using a pizza pan, it looked good. And all the other guest cooks agreed that it was superb.

Later they discussed ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ and the host Markus Lanz spotted that cook Steffen Henssler was doing the ragù the way Giorgio Locatelli describes in his book ‘Made in Italy’, leaving the meat for a couple of minutes before stirring.

Schuhbeck: “Ecco, my Pizza Orlando di Lasso”

Lanz: ‘That’s a lot of stuff to go on a Pizza, Alfons. Especially to South-Italians, it must be strange.”

Schuhbeck: “Why not? Rabbit has a very mild flavor and can be combined with shrimps and cabanossi sausages. Perhaps this Bavarian can teach one thing or two to the Italians.”

Written by theinversecook

20 September 2009 at 16:08

Posted in food, Recipe