Monday, February 24, 2014

Ancient Grain Ciabatta

Related posts:
All About Ciabatta: notes from a class
Chocolate Ciabatta with Dried Cherries and Roasted Hazelnuts
Of Bread and Bridges: a baking weekend in San Antonio

As mentioned in All About Ciabatta, we made several different ciabattas during the class last May. The formulas have all been posted on the Bread Bakers' Guild of America's website but they are only available to BBGA members. We are authorized to post the ones we make at home provided we also post the following note (and I quote): "The mission of The Bread Bakers Guild of America is to shape the knowledge and skills of the artisan baking community through education.  Guild members have access to many other innovative professional formulas, both online and in the Guild’s magazine, Bread Lines. For more information about membership, please visit"
I have been a Guild member for over five years now and, between you and me, I never regretted joining. Not only do I look forward to getting the magazine every quarter but I enjoy having access to the archives, to a zillion tested formulas, to the lively online forum, to the classes taught by the Guild, etc. BBGA describes itself on its website as "an independent and creative group of professional bakers, farmers, millers, suppliers, educators, students, home bakers, technical experts, and bakery owners and managers." But to me, it is a big family centered around the craft of making bread and I really like it. And just so that you know, nobody is twisting my arm or promising me a free membership!
That being said, eighty-five dollars a year - for an individual - isn't exactly peanuts and while BBGA isn't in the money-making business (it is an educational non-profit and mostly run by volunteers), only you can say if joining it is worth your while...
Now on to ciabatta. Why make this particular one? Well, we both happen to love teff (and to have some in the pantry) and while I am not a huge fan of amaranth, I have some on hand which is desperately calling for attention. Besides, we saw amaranth plants at the Botanical Garden in Montreal a few years back and I can't resist the idea of baking some of these colors into our diet (never mind the fact that, when all is said and done, amaranth flour is made from the seed, not the flower and it is, well, flour-colored)...


For those of you who are using BreadStorm (including the free version), please click on this link to import the formula.  For more on BreadStorm, you may want to read this post.

A bit of care needs to be taken with this ciabatta because the protein in ancient flours is soluble in water and has no gluten, which means in practical terms:
  • A shorter mixing time
  • A very low fermentation tolerance: if the oven isn't ready when the dough is, put it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Variable water absorption: you may need to add water until you get the right consistency.
  • A possible fold: if you find that the dough is very extensible and has no elasticity, then you will need to do one fold

Ancient grain ciabatta dough as it came out of the mixer during class

The night before the bake
  1. Mix the amaranth poolish, cover it loosely and let it ferment overnight (12 hours) at 73°F/23°C
  2. Mix the teff sponge, cover it loosely and let it ferment overnight (12 hours) at 73°F/23°C
On baking day
Desired dough temperature (DDT): 73°F/23°C to 76°FF/24°C
(Depending on the room and the flour temperatures, you will need to use cooler or warmer water in the final dough to obtain the DDT at the end of the mixing process)
  1. Scale the flour, yeast and salt. Whisk yeast and salt into the flour and reserve
  2. Place the poolish, the sponge, the dry mix (flour + yeast + salt) and water 1 in the bowl of the mixer
  3. Mix on first speed (on a spiral mixer) or speed 4 (on a Kitchen Aid) for 4 or 5 minutes
  4. Mix on second speed (on a spiral mixer) or speed 8 (on a Kitchen Aid) for 2-3 minutes
  5. Check gluten development. When gluten is 80% developed, add water 2 by increments on first speed (4 on Kitchen Aid) and mix for about 3 minutes
  6. Transfer to oiled dough tub, cover and let ferment at 73°F/23°C - 76°FF/24°C for 2 hours and 30 minutes
  7. Transfer the dough to a generously floured surface (see relevant video in All About Ciabatta: Notes from a Class), taking care not to let it fold over itself and going easy with the stretching as the dough will be fragile
  8. Divide and scale at 500 g (you should have four ciabattas)
  9. Proof on floured linen, top down, for one hour (or 30 to 40 minutes if room temperature is warm)
  10. Dust with a mixture of teff, amaranth and white flours
  11. Bake with steam on a baking stone in a 420°F - 216°C oven for 30 minutes (turning oven down to 400°F-204°C after 10 minutes, tenting with foil if over browning after 20 minutes and propping the oven door open (with a wooden spoon) for the last five minutes
  12. Cool on a rack
  13. Enjoy!
During the class, someone asked Didier about changing the percentage of ancient grain in the formula and here is what he said in response: "Twenty to twenty-five percent total ancient grain compared to total flour is optimal for flavor, structure and volume."



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