Under normal circumstances, I'd set up a few experiments to figure out exactly where this recipe went wrong. But I have a 3 year old and 6 week old on my hands right now and baking more bread that ends up in the trash is not my idea of fun at the moment. Besides, the texture of Cook's focaccia seemed much more appropriate for ciabatta. That's what I decided to learn to make inspired by the lovely open crumb (big holes) of my unsuccessful focaccia experiment.
At first, I thought I'll modify Cook's recipe to turn it into a ciabatta, but on the second thought decided to go with Rose Beranbaum's ciabatta from The Bread Bible. As most of Rose's recipes, it turned out extremely well even on the first try. But once I messed with it a tad, it was absolutely fantastic. I upped the salt from 3.3 grams to 4.5 grams and decided to add another rise before shaping and proofing. The basic schedule looked like this:
- make a biga, let rise for 6 hours, deflate and refrigerate overnight
- make dough and let rise until tripled (4 hours at about 65F)
- knead a bit by folding with a plastic dough scraper right in the bowl where the dough is rising
- let rise again until almost quadrupled the original volume (4 more hours at about 65F)
- shape, and proof for 1.5 hours
The only annoying thing about this bread is the schedule. If I could get rid of biga and replace it with another rise retarded in the fridge, the whole thing would be much more doable on regular basis. If I manage to make it work, I'll post the recipe. Meanwhile, try Rose's. It's lovely.