Wednesday, April 27, 2011

tears in my ciabatta

in an effort to distract myself, not to mention i was hungry & we were low on bread, i decided to give the ole ciabatta another try. for reals this time though, no no-knead type like i made before. the bread was pretty good, i just don't like having to plan like 18 hours in advance for my baking. i'm lucky if i think about such things 4 hours ahead of time. since then i've made french bread, rolls & a few types of breadsticks; so i figured i could handle traditional made ciabatta. even when i make breadsticks they're served after the 1st round of spaghetti bc i don't plan well, 18 hours is way out of my league.

i looked for recipes & then from all the talk, i started to get a little nervous. i decided to go with this recipe. which probably wasn't a good idea bc hello, conversions, my first hurdle, not a big one though thanks to the internet. i went through the trouble of going to a few different conversion sites to make sure i got it right, bc conversions are so not my thing.

recipes states 475g = ~2c water, ergo 500g = ~2+c flour, no? grams are little right?
also, when converted i got 15g = 3+tsp salt, i'm on the fence thinking that may be too much, but i went with it. i've worked with enough bread dough to know measurements are all estimates & that's why i can do it, i'm not precise when i cook.
the recipe also says to use your KA (kitchen aide)-like mixer. um, i have a $30 handheld from walmart, will that work? if i have to go buy a KA-like mixer i might as well go buy 300 loaves of bread....

so with all odds against me & occasional tears before i even get the flour out, the adventure begins. it says expect pancake batter & yes, that's what i started with. i used my dough hooks (which i initially mocked when i got the mixer, never mock, not even inanimate objects, it will come back to you) & beat, then rested hoping gluten strands would form, repeated like 4 times & still had pancake batter. not even kinda thick pancake batter.

i decided to switch on over to regular mixer dohickeys; not sure if the blades would destroy the gluten strings but i needed more motion. the batter is supposed to thicken up with the mixing, pull away from the sides & even the bottom of the bowl, yet i still had a bowl of soup. i beat for 10 minutes, not much changed, i let it rest, then beat again & this time i reviewed the recipe again. more importantly i read the comments bc i remember seeing someone saying they beat their pancake batter by hand & their's turned into ciabatta dough so wtf????

then i read a note that for some reason, again me & conversions not friends, the 500g of flour does not equate to 2+c flour, it equals somewhere along the lines of 4+ (i think it was 4.2 or 4.3 but, i don't give a F now....) so my pancake batter was never, ever, ever gonna turn into ciabatta dough without more flour.

easy fix, but now i had frankenbatter.

i added 1+c more of flour so i no longer had soup, but still had messy, sloppy, sticky dough. then i put it in the micro (no heat, just closed environment) to rise. that was 2 hrs ago & it's about to spill out of the bowl. rise it has, i'll bake it, but it will probably be tougher than nails.


  1. I couldn't make a decent bread to save my life (and I AM a baker...better baker than cook, actually), until I got a serious kitchen Aide mixer. I kid you not, it's worth every penny. That Easter Bread you had the other day? 4 cups of flour, and I didn't knead it ONCE. Mixer did it all, no sweat. Ok, there's also the trick of knowing what temp the water should be... That's a doozy. Before the mixer, it was all I could do to knead in a little more than three cups of flour before I threw in the towel...

  2. i meant to write about my recent cooking/baking failures, couldn't find the post, so it must only exist in my head, but yes, i've made the water temp mistake & cooked the yeast -> french bread weapons of destruction...


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