For a little while, I thought I had lost all the photos for this post. Ironically, it wasn’t that big a loss, as none of them looked very… appealing. I tried and tried, but I could not make this recipe work.
But, then I found them! And there was much rejoicing. (Yayyy)
So without further ado, Ciabatta.
Bakers time: 3 hours My time: 6+ hours
Did you know Ciabatta translates literally to slippers. Supposedly, because they look like slippers, and I guess they do?
The bakers got 3.5 hours to bake one of Paul Hollywood’s recipes. Paul Hollywood, one of the show’s judges, is the “bread guy”. He is very into bread and into kind of being a know-it-all about breads. If this show could have a “mean judge,” he would be it. But I’ve got to tell you – this recipe didn’t work for me.
I followed it to the letter. I used a scale rather than just measuring, so I could follow the British recipe (and because it’s just smart to use one). But it just wouldn’t work. I ended up baking the whole thing through twice, which it turns out is only partially responsible for why my time is so much longer.
This is a pretty basic dough, where bread is concerned. I’m actually not sure why it’s so beloved. Its a simple flour-salt-yeast recipe, with a little oil.
Ciabatta recipes call for a very wet dough. Check. Seems a little wet to me at this point, but who am I to judge? I’m no Paul Hollywood.
You’re supposed to put it in a square container to rise, supposedly in order to help it keep it’s shape. Ha ha, jokes on you Paul Hollywood. This dough never had a shape.
I put a little dot on the container so I’d be able to tell when it doubled.
It puffed up maybe… a fourth of what it should. I left it longer and and got maybe another centimeter. Okaaaaaayyyy…. The instructions call for you to not punch down the dough, you want to maintain the air. But this dough was so wet, I couldn’t even cut it. It just oozed right back together.And forget putting it into a loaf form on a baking sheet. Ridiculous. It was like trying to make loaves out of pancake batter. Ok, maybe not that bad. But it was pretty crazy scooping this “dough” over to a pan, and I can pretty much guarantee that it did not retain any of that precious air. I went ahead and baked them, but they looked awful. I decided to try again, and this time, I would be more careful.
Now this is a technical challenge, so usually you would want to stick as closely to the recipe as possible, or pay the price. But I went rogue. Given that either my scale is wrong or the recipe is, I decided to hold back on the water. Even leaving out just a few tablespoons seems to have done wonders for this recipe.
Although it still rose very slowly and never in fact doubled, I was able to work with the dough as a dough, rather than as a liquid! This time, when I cut the loaves, they stayed loaves. Transferring them to a pan was still quite tricky (Note to self – invest in large flat metal spatula?), I got it done. After a second rise, they still looked unimpressive. But they were much better than last time! It didn’t taste terrible, but it was far from what a ciabatta is supposed to look like, I think.
I get an F in this technical challenge. Next time, I think I’d use even less water, or maybe more yeast? Maybe both!