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Sourdough ciabattas with spelt

>> Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I hadn't baked bread for days so I was eager to do it again. I spent 2 days affectionately feeding my little whole spelt sourdough, out of the fridge, till it was ready to be used for baking a bread. The black spots in the picture are raisins which I used to kick the yeastie-beasties resurrection. If you're interested in good tutorials and advice on bread baking and sourdough, check this site. There's everything you wanted to know about sourdough but never dared to ask.

I frequently use Ibán's recipe for a simple 2-pounds bread: 0.4lb sourdough, 0.6lb water and 1lb flour. (I talked about Ibán here.) As I had 0.88lb of sourdough instead of 0.4lb and I wanted to use it all, I adapted Ibán's quantities like this:

  • 0.87lb whole spelt sourdough
  • 0.37lb water
  • 0.77lb strong white flour
But I got lost somewhere on my way and I swapped the flour and water quantities... so after mixing with my precioussss radiant-red Kenwood Patissier stand-mixer I got something very similar to a baby's pap... what had happened? I had put my foot in it again? Yap. So I had to add tons of flour to get to something kneadable. Of course I didn't measure the excess flour, that's why I can't give you the exact amount. Typical of me. Scientific method is called. Thanks to my wonderful planning skills I ended up with something close to 3lb of dough. Never mind. Of course you have to add at least 2 teaspoons salt. I usually do it after the initial mixing and a 5-minute rest. Being that my stand-mixer doesn't admit any more than 1.2lb flour I had to knead by hand, not very good for my tennis elbow. I used Richard Bertinet method, perfect for very wet doughs like ciabatta's. Please check this video. I was extremely lucky to learn this method live from Ibán at La cocina de Babette. Incidentally, I strongly recommend the book by Bertinet "Dough" that, in spite of not using sourdough, it's a good book and includes a very illustrative video on his kneading method.

After the initial kneading I left my dough resting in a bowl for say... more than an hour and a half, I had some translations to do! I'm a working woman! So I had to postpone some Bertinet violent kneading till after lunch. Kneading is so amazingly good to get rid of all your frustrations... I kneaded it for 10 minutes till the dough was nicely elastic and then I put it in an oiled bowl covered with a nice plastic shower cap, the kind you get in hotel rooms (another thing I learnt at Babette).

Once the dough had doubled in volume, I spread it on a well floured counter, deflated it just a little bit with the palm of my hand and folded it in four ciabatta shapes. I carefully lay the four ciabattas in four nice linen-lined baskets, dredged in flour. There's no way I could explain it better than in this video. I put each basket inside a plastic freezer bag and put it in the fridge overnight.

The morning after I took them out first thing in the morning for them to temper and heated up my oven to the maximum (250 ºC, 480ºF). They had expanded quite a lot in spite of the cold.

I decided to try and bake them in a dutch oven, according to Bea's advice. This type of pot is called "dutch oven" in some places, but for me it's always been a "cocotte", the French name well known to many Spaniards, owners of a very famous cookbook by Simone Ortega. And I've had a "mademoiselle cocotte" for years that of course I had never used to bake bread before! Voilá!

I baked 2 ciabattas in the cocotte and the other 2 just on the garden tiles that I use as sophisticated baking stone... ahem. Frankly, dear, I didn't find a very clear difference between both methods. Maybe the crust color of the cocotte ciabattas was nicer, more golden and less chocolatey than the others. According to Bea of La cocina de Babette, spelt has a different behaviour than normal strong white flour. I should try with regular bread flour to really see the difference. Another pending test. By the way, I shouldn't say so myself, but the bread was de-li-ciousssss.

1 comentarios:

Nils May 12, 2009 at 4:29 PM  

Really good. That is one of the most difficult breads, I find. Keep it up. Nils


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