Ciabatta With Spelt

A Ciabatta. I substituted out 20% of the bread flour and replaced it with Spelt. For reference, the finished bread is about 12″ across:

190527 spelt ciabatta

I started baking with Spelt in 2018. Those blog posts are now gone as part of the move to the new site. For background, Spelt breads will hold air bubbles but the structure Spelt provides is very fragile and it requires gentle working and handling to avoid degassing.

The Recipe and Process: 

400 grams KA bread flour, 100 grams Spelt flour (Bob’s Red Mill), 360 grams water (72% hydration), 15 grams olive oil (3%), 10 grams kosher salt (2%), 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast. That’s less than half the yeast that I’d use if I planned to bake the bread a couple of hours after mixing, but I had other ideas.

The dough was mixed for eight minutes, covered, and allowed to proof for around 4 hours. I then did a two “stretch and folds”, shaped the dough into a ball, and allowed the dough to proof  on a parchment covered pizza peel for another two hours. (I covered the dough with an inverted large bowl during the 2nd rise.)

For baking: The oven and baking stone were preheated to 425F for 30 minutes. I added 1 cup of water to a sheet tray and placed it on the bottom shelf. When the water in the sheet tray was steaming I slid the parchment and dough from the peel onto the baking stone. Total bake time was 35 minutes. (At 30 minutes the internal temperature was only 192F, so I gave it another 5 minutes.)

Postmortem Thoughts:

From Bakerpedia:

Baked goods made with spelt flour will be more dense and heavy than those from wheat flour.

Spelt flour has a much higher water absorption capacity, giving a somewhat smaller loaf volume than common wheat flour.

Which is basically describes the finished loaf. While proofing the dough spread more “out” than “up”, and there wasn’t much oven spring, even though I’d slashed the loaf prior to baking and provided steam in the oven. The crumb wasn’t “tight” but it wasn’t “holey and rustic” either.

Spelt provides a nice nutty taste, and some je ne sais quoi, which is part of the reason I chose to include it in a same-day preparation. I also like Spelt because it tastes less refined and sugary than regular bread flour.

Overall it was a pleasant loaf. I sliced it thinly so that each piece wasn’t heavy and we served it with good butter. It didn’t last even half-way through dinner.

Hearth Breads

-A.J.

161130-done-closeup

I’ve been meaning to try out the combination of banneton + baking stone when making a “hearth” bread. Hamelman recommends a 73% hydration dough for his Ciabatta, but I knew if I went that high the odds of “disaster” would be pretty high too. I settled on a more moderate 65% hydration for this first pass, something along the lines of a French Bread, though it’s really a “65% hydration boule” (ball).

The recipe involves light mixing followed by three folds at one hour intervals, then a two hour rise in a banneton.

The first picture was taken right after the light mixing:

161130-fold0

Notice how the dough is somewhat shaggy. It’s fairly sticky too. Over the next few hours it’s going to shape up.

Here it is after fold number one:

161130-fold1

The “folding process” involves taking one edge of the dough, stretching it out, then folding it back on the mass. Then the stretch is done to the opposite side — repeat until all four sides have been stretched and folded back onto the mass. If you look closely you can see the last fold sitting on top with a slight seam running left to right.

Here it is after fold number two:

161130-fold2

Not much evidence of the seams this time. The dough has gained a lot of structure, and it’s not nearly as sticky as it was — now it’s just sort of tacky.

An hour later was the third fold, and the dough placed placed into a well-floured banneton:

161130-banneton

I should mention because it isn’t pictured:  During every rise the bowl/banneton was covered with plastic wrap.

The dough was allowed to rise for two hours. An hour prior to baking the stone was placed in the oven and the oven was preheated to 460F.

The dough ready to be flipped onto the pizza peel:

161130-risen

And out of the oven (I baked one at a time):

161130-done

The appearance is due to the floured rings of the banneton, combined with slashing the dough prior to baking. It looks involved, but it’s really pretty simple.

Overall the structure was a little tighter than I would have preferred — the “right” answer to that is probably more steam and higher hydration. The first dough stuck to the pizza peel, which was the “disaster” I was trying to avoid, and it’s why I used a moderate hydration in the first place. (And it degassed the dough somewhat, which is not what I wanted.) I used ample flour for the second dough and that one released fine.

There’s definitely a “wow” factor with this approach. I’m sure I’ll do it at least once again during the holidays.

—–

The recipe is based around Hamelman’s “Ciabatta with Poolish” (Bread:  A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes)

The day before — make the Poolish  (120g bread flour, 120g water, a few grains of yeast. I added 2% salt to the Poolish, which is not classically correct — I wanted the Poolish to not go totally crazy and overproof.)

Baking day:

  1.  Combine the Poolish with 280g bread flour, 140g water, 1/2 tsp yeast (up to 1 tsp might work better next time), 6g kosher salt. Total recipe is 400g bread flour, 260g water (65%), yeast, 8g salt (2%)
  2.  Mix for 3 minutes on low speed, then 3 minutes on 2nd speed.
  3.  Fold the dough, move to a lightly oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour.
  4.  Fold the dough. Cover and let rise another hour.
  5.  Fold the dough. Cover and let rise a third hour.
  6.  Fold the dough, place into a well-floured banneton or bowl. Cover and let rise two hours until doubled. With one hour to go preheat the oven and stone to 460F.
  7.  Gently dump the dough onto a pizza peel. Slash the dough.
  8.  [Late Edit:  SeattleAuthor brought it to my attention that I left out a step in the directions — Steam The Oven.]  Bake for 40 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool.

Again, it looks like a lot of steps, but it’s really pretty easy. Just set the timer and forget it for a while.