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.