Not Degassing the Ciabatta
I made my first Ciabatta last night, using the Biga recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice. They came out a little pale and bulge-y, but basically looking okay; the crumb, however, was way too tight. Any advice for shaping Ciabatta without losing all of the gas in the dough?
I found that the final stretch ("Lift the dough from each end and tug the dough out to a length of 9 to 12 inches") was the worst -- even applying lighter and lighter pressure on each successive loaf, they all seemed to completely deflate when tugged in the slightest. I was also confused by some of the pictures showing the shaping -- the "left to right" fold seemed another degassing culprit. Are the loaves supposed to rise in the clouche with the fold facing up, and then bake with the fold facing down (onto the stone)?
Any suggestions for successfully stretching, folding, tugging, and shaping, without degassing at the same time? Thanks!
Following up on my own post, I looked through a bunch of other books' Ciabatta recipes. Jeffrey Hamelman, Rose Levy Bernbaum, the King Arthur Baker's Companion, and a few others all say not to fold or stretch the dough after it is divided. They all seem to be going for a flatter, bigger, more dimpled loaf.
The only recipe that resembled Peter Reinhart's (the one I used) was in Maggie Glazer's Artisan Baking Across America, from Craig Ponsford of Artisan Bakers in Sonoma, California. His recipe is somewhat different in other respects, but fairly similar in the folding and shaping. It sounds like he is much more aggressive about stretching and turning the dough during fermentation, and he also mentions that an over-developed biga may lead to a deflated loaf. (I had made the biga two nights before baking the loaves; after the first full day in the fridge, I degassed and lightly kneaded the biga again, and then put it back in the fridge for a second day.)
Anyway, it looks like some combination of these recipes might work better for me.
I have tried folding the ciabatta over itself in the bowl before. I have tried the strech fold method also (which produces very rustic looking things, courtesy of the flour amount used). I think they both work quite well. But u have to be extra careful with the strech fold method.
Also, i usually let it overproof slightly before baking it.
Or perhaps ur dough hydration wasn't high enough for the open crumb? :)
I have to suggest the recipe in "the bread bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It is easy and for me produces the most consistant loaf. It has it all. Large holes and flavor. I have shortened the final rise because the loaf just takes off in the oven. Check the book out of your library and give it a shot, then buy the book if it appeals to you. I can't keep a loaf around for too long and now bake two at a time. Goes that fast.
No folding or stretching. Just a little forming nice nice.