Sliced whole wheat sourdough ciabatta

Attempting a 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Ciabatta

I’d love to be able to move away from commercial yeast in favor of my wild yeast sourdough as much as possible. I’ve been wanting to try the recipe for 100% Whole Grain Rustic Bread and Pizza Dough from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day as a ciabatta bread, so I decided that would be a good placed to start with this substitution.

Process notes

Formula

Levain

Dough

  • All of levain
  • 210 gm water (this was upped from the original formulation of 180 gm)
  • 7 gm salt
  • 15 gm sugar
  • 22 gm olive oil

Day 1

4:00 p.m.: Mix together ingredients for levain.

Day 2

9:15 a.m.: Mix dough and perform 4 stretch & folds with 10-minute intervals.

10:00 a.m.: Cover and refrigerate.

6:20 p.m.: Remove from refrigerator and sit on counter.

7:20 p.m.: Cut into three pieces and shape into ciabatta loaves.

9:45 p.m.: Stretch out the loaves a bit, coat well with flour, and place on pan liner, covered in plastic.

Day 3

7:00 a.m.: Dough is very flat, somehow even flatter than the previous night.

7:45 a.m.: Re-folded one piece into a fat ciabatta shape, and kneaded the other two pieces together into a boule shape. Place ciabatta on pan liner and boule in 6-inch cake pan, sprayed with oil.

Ciabatta after re-forming into slipper shape

Since the dough was so flat, I reshaped this roll into the slipper shape before baking

Ciabatta shaped as boule

Sourdough ciabatta shaped into boule in 6-inch cake pan

9:30 a.m.: Preheat oven to 550° convection. Place baking sheet with 2 cups water in bottom rack, and move stone to rack above.

10:15 a.m.: Cover boule pan with foil. Bake loaves for 10 min. Spritz ciabatta roll 3 times with water. Rotate after 10 minutes. Lower temp to 450°. Bake 3 more minutes, and remove ciabatta roll (internal temp 188°). Remove foil from pan and bake boule for 17 more min. Cool on rack.

Results

Very dense, heavy loaves, not light and airy like they should be. I’m not entirely sure where things went wrong, but I think part of it has to do with the overnight counter proofing. The loaves are really sour and didn’t really rise well. I was shocked there were any irregular holes inside at all!

Dense and heavy sourdough ciabatta

Dense and heavy sourdough ciabatta

After a few loaves that I felt were over-baked, I wanted to play it safe and took these out earlier than instructed. But it was too early — they are underdone inside and not enough moisture evaporated out of them.

I did like the result of spritzing with the spray bottle. I’ll probably continue that. I’m not convinced the pan of water contributed much, so probably won’t bother with that next time.

This loaf tastes better when toasted. It plays nicely with the sour flavor and dries up some of the moisture.

Luckily the boule released from the cake pan with no trouble — I was really worried that it would become cemented to the pan. I’ll definitely try baking in the 6-inch cake pan again for boules since they flatten out too much on the stone, and my Dutch oven is too large to contain the sides of wet doughs.

Some ideas to try next time:

  • dilute the sourdough by refreshing 2 times with 25% sourdough + 100% flour + 100% water
  • sift all of the flour that goes into the dough
  • look for a 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 increase during rise instead of double
  • if proofing overnight, refrigerate shaped loaves instead of leaving on counter
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