July 14, 2009

whole wheat ciabatta

I have to say, there have been times when I believe my sourdough starter has a mind of its own. At times it turns out sourdough breads the way it wants to so I just have no control of the outcome : ) Somewhat like breads with personalities.

A fine example is this ciabatta that I baked over the weekend. I made it using the same proportion of flour and water as I've been using but the end result was a totally different texture with a more open crumb which I haven't made before. I was surprised considering that it was partly made with whole wheat flour. The dough was also much harder to handle and to form. I just let it do it's own thing and transferred it into the sheet pan as quickly as I could to bake. I have no complaints about it and it was actually the way a ciabatta is supposed to look like. Next time another variation may come out. As for now, I've made peace with my starter and I just patiently wait for whatever bread it comes up with. So far I haven't been disappointed.

For a light weekend meal, shown above, the ciabatta made great mini muffuletta sandwiches and bruschetta with olive tapenade served with extra slices of cheese.

1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 cups spring water
Combine above ingredients and mix well. Let it stand at room temperature for about 4 hours or until the mixture is bubbly. Add the following ingredients then knead by hand or using a stand mixer or bread machine for 10-12 minutes:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
After kneading, let the dough sit at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Divide the dough in half. Fold it over once and roll into a ball or loaf shape. I have two bread baskets that I use for this proofing stage to maintain the shape. Let rise for another 1-2 hours depending on how active the starter is. I had to let it rise for an hour only since the dough was about to overflow. Mist the loaves with water, sprinkle with flour, then try to slash the dough before baking. Bake at 425-450F for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for an hour.

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