I feel I’ve come a long way since my very first ciabatta. I’m not afraid of dough so runny that it must be corralled like oozing honey. I’ve over-baked, under-baked, and dropped it. Once I made 13 loaves of ciabatta in someone else’s oven after mine broke down. And I always think there’s a better way. This weekend I tried a third method, based on Jason’s Coccodrillo ciabatta. This one has you beat a dough of almost 100% hydration into complete submission in the mixer, using brute mechanical force to create gluten in what would normally be runny pancake batter. Here’s how it turned out:
Verdict? Structure: good. Flavor: lacking the complexity of either the Team USA or the no-knead. I suspect this is because it doesn’t have any ferment time. Method: sound, but I found a shortcut. The recipe has you beat the dough for 10 to 30 minutes. I decided to be lazy, and let my mixed dough sit for almost 20 minutes, preferring to let the autolyze method do my work for me. When I started mixing, it took just four minutes to get the dough to the required consistency. Again, this proves that time is as good a method of creating gluten as kneading. And you can hold a beer in one hand and the remote in the other with the autolyze method, so that gets my vote.
So where does this leave the great ciabatta challenge? If you plan ahead with the Team USA, you have to make a poolish the day before, then mix up the dough with several intermediate folds on the next day. With the no-knead, you mix up the entire dough the day before, then just turn it out and bake it the next. If you decide at breakfast that you want ciabatta for lunch, your only option is the Coccodrillo ciabatta. Personally, I would rather plan ahead and have a tastier bread, so I declare the no-knead ciabatta the winner. Hooray!
It will be going up, with some slight modifications, on the bread section this week. Please try it out for yourself and let me know how it turns out. Happy baking!