Thursday, May 7, 2009

Non Stop No-knead Ciabatta Posting

No-knead CiabattaOK, so I've settled on what I'm going to try. It's going to be a fairly straightforward modification of the March 2009 Cook's Illustrated recipe found here (if you pay $$$). I've only made bread twice and I burned it both times, so I'm not sure I should be so cocky as to think I can be modifiying recipes yet... but what the hell? Baking is supposedly the most "sciency" of all cooking, what with the digital scales and chemical reactions and whatnot, so maybe that explains my hubris... and though hubris hasn't served me so well in my cooking adventures, this time is going to be different... really!

I did get an oven thermometer and just in the course of making frozen pizzas discovered my oven is too hot by something like 25 degrees, so that probably explains my burnt bread... though we were only trying to get it to 400, not a range of temperatures, so I'm not entirely sure it's a fixed offset(but I certainly hope it is!). Supposedly there should be a little screw underneath the knob that you can adjust to get the temp right, so maybe I'll mess around with that before I bake anything. If you're planning on embarking on some bread baking like yours truly, it might behoove you to get the oven thermometer first, so you can skip the burning phase. Up to you though. My way makes things a lot more mysterious though, which is pretty sexy.

Biga
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1/2 cup water (4 ounces), at room temperature 

That's ingredient for ingredient from the Cook's recipe. Since their recipe uses the same total amount of flour (15 ounces - 5 for the biga and 10 for the dough) I'm going to use the same total amount of yeast as in the standard no-knead recipe... 1/4 teaspoon. I thought of using it all in the biga and then just using the biga as my leavening agent, but since I'm probably going to leave it for 18-24 hours, I don't want it to have to worry about my poor bacteria starving to death or anything... and for whatever reason, having that 1/8 teaspoon of yeast to add in to the rest of the dough with the biga makes me more confident that the long rise won't be a total disaster.

So anyway... I'll just mix that together until it forms a ball, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit over night at room temp. I'll make it tonight some time before I go to bed so that I have some leeway after I get home from work on Friday for the next step.

Dough
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 1/8 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 cup water (6 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk (2 ounces), at room temperature 

Yeah, so like I said... I'm only adding 1/8 of a teaspoon of yeast in the next step since I'm doing a 18 hour long slow rise instead of Cook's use of a stand mixer for kneading. This may be really dumb, but I can't see why... it should work, shouldn't it? Heh, I guess it's pretty obvious I'm not very comfortable modifying recipes.

I'll take the biga and dump it in a big bowl with all of these ingredients and mix with a spatula until a shaggy ball forms. Then I'll cover it in plastic wrap and let it sit again for another 12-18 hours. The main thing I worry about here is that all this crazy yeast-on-flour action is going to make the flavor too strong... but other people certainly use a biga in no-knead recipes, so it'll probably be fine. If it tastes like beer it tastes like beer. I like beer. So see? I can't lose.

That's all for now... I'll post more later.