Wholewheat Ciabatta

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My first attempt at wholewheat Ciabatta. Not sure why it cracked on top.  I used Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his book Whole Grain Breads
and followed the transitional rustic bread formula on page 264.  I did attempt his Ciabatta recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice book and that didn’t turn out well either.  I figured I must have used too much milk on that recipe or probably the dough was not wet enough because it didn’t have the “holes” I was aiming for inside the bread.  However, that version didn’t crack on top.

With this wholewheat version, my dough was wet and I had no difficulty “stretching” it when folding. I even measured the ingredients by weight instead of by volume.  I made the mistake of putting all three in a small sheet pan so when they expanded, they were too close to each other and it was difficult to separate to put on the peel.

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Transitional Rustic Bread adapted from Peter Reinhart’s book Wholegrain Breads

Ingredients:

  • 283 grams (2 1/4 cups) wholewheat flour
  • 283 grams (2 1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • 11 grams (1 1/2 tsp) salt
  • 3 grams (1 tsp) instant yeast
  • 454 water (2 cups) at room temperature
  • 28.5 grams (2 tbs) olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients (except olive oil) in a bowl and mix by hand (wet hands) for 2 – 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky but fairly smooth. Adjust water and flour as needed.
  2. Add the olive oil and mix for another 15 seconds, long enough to coat dough. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 5 minutes, uncovered, and then mix again for 1 minute. The dough will be smoother but still sticky.
  3. Lightly oil bowl or dough bucket (big enough to hold dough when it rises to double its size), form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately for an overnight cold fermentation.\
  4. Gently transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, trying not to tear dough. Form into 2 or 3 rectangles, careful to degas the dough as little as possible (perhaps this is where I went wrong!) when shaping it.
  5. Raise the loaves on proofing cloth or sheet pan lined with parchment paper, dusting with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cloth towel and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 minutes until nearly 1 1/2 times its original size.
  6. Preheat over 500F and prepare for hearth baking. Place dough seam side up in the oven and pour 1 cup of hot water into steam pan.
  7. Lower temperature to 450F and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate 180 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes until bread is golden brown all over and registers at least 200F in the center. The crust will be hard but will soften  somewhat as it cools.
  8. Transfer bread to cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

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It didn’t have the signature ‘holes” either when I sliced it.  The bread was great, though.  I sliced it lengthwise and made a nice sandwich pack for our ski lunch (turkey pastrami, tomatoes, provolone cheese and lettuce with mustard dressing). It held very well and didn’t get soggy (as with the normal sandwich breads).  Hmmm…I may have to try this again and see if I can get those darn holes.  I would like to serve this next time with olive oil and grated parmesan instead of using it for sandwiches!

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