Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | Wild Ciabatta (ish), June 2020
I’m always a little nervous about what will be chosen for the BBBabes’ monthly project. What if it’s something that’s really really really hard? Or what if it calls for something crazy like jelly beans? Or licorice?
But Yay!! Cathy (Bread Experience) chose exactly the kind of bread we love: Ciabatta. This is our kind of bread!
a slightly flattened Italian yeast bread made with olive oil and having large air pockets within.
ORIGIN OF CIABATTA
1985-90; <Italian: literally, slipper
ciabatta [cia-bàt-ta] s.f.
1 Pantofola posteriormente priva di tomaia SIN pianella; estens. qualsiasi calzatura vecchia ma comoda [Slipper without back on the upper ALSO flat; extension: any old but comfortable footwear]
2 region. Tipo di pane piuttosto lungo e largo, piatto, croccante [regional: Type of bread that is rather long and wide, flat, crunchy]
3 elettr. Presa elettrica multipla [electrical: Multiple electrical socket]
– Francesco Sabatini & Vittorio Coletti, Dizionario della lingua italiana (cizionari.corriere.it)
Ciabatta is an Italian bread that was first produced back in 1982 by Arnaldo Cavallari. Cavallari was a miller and baker near Venice. During this time the French Baguettes were very popular and bakeries wanted to develop a product that would be able to compete with a baguette. Cavallari did lots of testing and came up with the perfect recipe for the Ciabatta. This loaf of bread got its name because of its shape. Ciabatta translates to slipper.
– Breadworks | The History of Ciabatta https://www.breadworkspgh.com/the-history-of-ciabatta/
Here is what I did to the BBBabes’ April 2023 recipe:
BBB Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta diary:
8 March 2023, 14:42 This looks like fun!! What an excellent choice.
I really like adding just a touch of buckwheat to our bread – so much so that we have almost run out. We really like the flavour it adds to the wheat. Clearly, I need to get more.
I wonder if that little bit of yeast is necessary. Surely not!
27 March 2023, 12:49 I was looking through the notes of the various bread books I read while incarcerated because of Covid lockdowns. I was positive that I had read Eric Kayser’s book, “The Larousse Book of Bread: recipes to make at home”. I was right! It was just over two years ago: February 2021. At the time, I bookmarked his recipe for pumpkin seed ciabatta and had scrawled down the ingredients. Did I make it? Ha. As if.
So, how perfect is it that Cathy chose one of his ciabattas for us to make?
I admit I was a tiny bit unimpressed about the Eric Kayser’s book because of his questionable advice to add commercial yeast to every single recipe for “sourdough” bread. But there really ARE a number of great ideas for various kinds of bread, aren’t there? Happily, it is readily available at our library so I got the book out again to look at the lovely photos of ciabatta.
Interestingly, I’m guessing that Cathy must have had the same notion, because she said that the first time she made Kayser’s recipe for ciabatta, she omitted the commercial yeast:
The first time I made this bread, I tried it without the dried yeast in the final dough, and it was a bit flat. However, that version was made with 100 grams of buckwheat (which is gluten-free) so it didn’t provide any lift. I made the second version with about 30% whole grain spelt. I added the dried yeast to that version.
– Cathy, in message to BBBabes
Fiddle-dee-dee! Lalalalalalalala Didn’t notice anything about the final dough being a bit flat without the addition of commercial yeast. Nope. Didn’t see that at all.
Because I’m NOT going to add commercial yeast! But I think I will reduce the amount of seeds in the dough itself.
5 April 2023, 16:19 I thought I’d wander around through the books on our shelves and on the internet to see what others say about ciabatta. It’s fascinating!
Ciabatta is probably the best knows Italian bread in North America. […] The reason for ciabatta‘s popularity are obvious once you taste it. This bread is delicious. […] A mixer is necessary to make ciabatta, as the dough is too wet to make by hand.
– Susan McKenna Grant, ‘ciabatta (Using a Biga Starter)’, Piano Piano Pieno, p.34
Ciabatta is a relatively new Italian bread (bakers I’ve talked to say it began to appear about 50 years ago) that has caught on in a big way. […] I first saw this peculiar and charming bread being made by “Dr. Ciabatta” at the Italian baking show in Verona. And experienced artisan baker who had perfected the technique for making the airiest and chewiest bread, the “doctor’ now demonstrated ciabatta baking […] Water,and lots of it, is the key ingredient in ciabatta. Water hydrates the starches that gelatinize and swell into glossy air pockets that distinguish this bread from other Italian loaves. Water also makes the dough extremely sticky and more challenging to handle than traditional bread dough, so use a mixer intstead of kneading by hand. Wet dough takes longer to rise, which is why the fermentation time for this bread is longer than for any other bread in this chapter. It’s during the slow rise that ciabatta develops its pourous structure. Light steam gives the bread its characteristic soft crustt, which makes ciabatta so perfect for sandwiches.
– Daniel Leader, ‘Ciabatta’, Local Breads, p.218, 219
I can’t think of a way to describe the fabulous and unusual taste of ciabatta except to say that once you’ve eaten it, you’ll never think of white bread in the same way again. Everyone who tries this bread loves it. Ciabatta means slipper in Italian; one glance at the short stubby bread will make it clear how it was named. Ciabatta is a remarkable combination of rustic country texture and elegant and tantalizing taste. It is much lighter than its homely shape would indicate, and the poous chewy interior is enclosed in a slightly crunchy crust that is veiled with flour. […] I’ve made it by hand but wouldn’t recommend it unless you are willing to knead the wet, sticky mass between your hands—in mid-air—turning, folding, and twisting it rather like taffy, your hand covered with dough.
– Carol Field, The Italian Baker | Ciabatta: Slipper-Shaped Bread from Lake Como, p.106
This is the bread that, after the focaccia (page 205), has highest water content and is therfore the very lightest in texture. The contrast of the crips firm crust and soft open crumb is a delightful shock to the senses. […] [I]n order to create an open crumb, you must have a very moist dough. Before this, I had always kneaded bread by hand. But [Brinna Sands, of King Arthur Flour] explained that in order to achieve this very sticky dough, it is best to use a mixer or bread machine, or one will be tempted to add too much flour. another interesting thing I discovered in my ten-day obsession with ciabatta was that developing too strong a framework (gluten) would make a tighter crumb, so that it is better to use a flour that is very extensible (ideally unbleached all purpose), with lowere protein-forming gluten than bread flour, and not to knead it too long
– Rose Levy Beranbaum, ‘Ciabatta (Ciabatta de Donna, or Lady’s Slipper)’, The Bread Bible, p.355
This is a large, dramatic bread full of huge holes and beautifully striped with flour. Ciabatta means “old shoe” or “slipper” (as in Grandpa’s, not Cinderella’s) in Italian […] Craig used some unusual techniques when he made this bread for me. He hardly mixes the dough at all, bragging that his dough is acutually lumpy when it comes out of the mixer (not really). But he does mix his doughs very little, and turns or folds the dough as it is fermenting to develop the gluten. […] Because of the bread’s high water content, Craig emphasized, it is especially important tnot to underbake it if you want a crisp crust and full flavor.
– Maggie Glezer, ‘Craig Posnford’s Ciabatta’, Artisan Baking in America, p.104
Literally meaning slipper, this famous bread comes from Verona in the North-East of Italy.
Its history is very recent as it was invented in 1982 by Arnaldo Cavallari, a baker who was looking for a bread to outcome the popularity of baguettes used in sandwiches. He first called it ciabatta polesana, after the Polesine region where he lived in. […] [A]ccording to some people, the ciabatta was already baked since centuries, Arnoldo respond[s]: “People can say whatever they like. Someone could say they remember eating it in the 1940s, but they have got to come forward with the proof. There is no question of that recipe having existed before. My ciabatta is the taste of an old-fashioned bread. It reminds people of the older breads, the ones that were made with natural ingredients, no chemicals.”
– Vincent, Baking History (baking-history.com/ciabatta/)
I am in the “some people” camp, and suspect that ciabatta is simply the name that Arnoldo Cavallari invented, after making small loaves of traditional Lake Como bread.
While Carol Field places her ‘Ciabatta: Slipper-shaped Bread from Lake Como’ recipe in the chapter entitled “Pane Regionale e Rustico” directly after her recipe for ‘Pane di Como: Como Bread’, (essentially saying that ciabatta is an offshoot), Rich (Them Apples) differentiates ciabatta from Lake Como bread:
The everyday loaf is the most versatile, and it can easily and quickly become a pizza base, a foccacia, a ciabatta or anything of that ilk. It’s good to have a recipe like that in the bag, something that you know and understand well, to the point when you can just make it without thinking. That’s what makes you a baker and not just somebody who makes bread every now and again, that moment when you tip over from just following a recipe to making a loaf by feel and touch.
There’s always something else, though.
This is an Italian loaf characteristic of the area around Lake Como. It has a wide, open texture in common with many other Italian breads, and a developed, subtle flavour. The structure comes from the fact that the dough is very wet, and quite sticky and difficult to handle – it’s the water that causes the open texture, and it’s worth persevering and working carefully with the dough to get it right. […] There are two stages in making Como bread – a pre-ferment and a bulk fermentation.
Essentially, that means that a small amount of dough is made ahead of time and allowed to develop and mature before being used as the base for the actual loaf. This technique of long, slow fermentation is very successful, and provides a complexity that’s entirely missing from loaves made in one go from start to finish, good as they are.
– Rich, Them Apples | Pane di Como, or Italian country bread
Susan McKenna Grant’s and Carol Field’s ciabatta recipes are both at 72% hydration (Carol Field calls for 1 part milk and 3 parts water with her hydration); Daniel Leader’s ciabatta recipe is at 85% hydration. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s ciabatta recipe is at 84% hydration. Craig Ponsford’s (from “Artisan Baking Across America” by Maggie Glezer) recipe is at 80% hydration. Rich’s (Them Apples) recipe for Pane di Como is also at 80% hydration.
Well. First of all, we don’t have an electric mixer. It’s never bothered me before (let’s pretend I didn’t fail several times when wrestling with the croc); I’m determined to make this bread work by mixing by hand. And not being even remotely tempted to add extra flour.
Now I’m torn. The BBB recipe indicates that it is 84% hydration. Do I lower the amount of water to a more manageable 70%? Or do I leave it where it is so that I might be fighting with really messy dough? What to do. What to do.
I’m going to throw caution to the winds. I’m going with the high amount of liquid! And I will take my cue from Craig Ponsford and not worry that I am mixing by hand. I will do plenty of folds. Because, after all, I’m a BBBabe; what can go wrong?
6 April 2023, 15:48 Karen reported that she added dill seeds to her ciabatta. What a cool idea! I was planning to use fennel seeds in the melange I use, but now I’m wondering if dill might not be more fun. (My plan is to use only small seeds to go into the dough, and larger seeds on the outside.)
7 April 2023, 13:54 I’ve been looking again in the various bread books on our shelf, and unlike what Cathy said, “You can use a stand mixer to mix this dough, but isn’t necessary”, ALL of the recipes say that the mixer is absolutely necessary. (The publishers must have shares in stand mixer companies!)
But we don’t have a stand mixer….
I really like seeing the following, and have been using this idea a lot ever since reading it:
[W]e find extending the autolyse particularly beneficial for breads with larger proportions of whole grain flour. […] [I]t can be left out if it suits your schedule however, it can also be extended — as there is no starter in the mix it won’t over ferment. It can last for several hours or even overnight
– Michele Eshkeri, ‘The dough process: The autolyse stage . Just flour and water’, Modern Sourdough
And this is invaluable as well:
Craig used some unusual techniques when he made this bread for me. He hardly mixes the dough at all, bragging that his dough is actually lumpy when it comes out of the mixer (not really). But he does mix his doughs very little, and turns or folds the dough as it is fermenting to develop the gluten. […] Because of the bread’s high water content, Craig emphasized, it is especially important not to underbake it if you want a crisp crust and full flavor.
– Maggie Glezer, ‘Craig Posnford’s Ciabatta’, Artisan Baking in America, p.104
I’ve decided that I’m going to do pretty much what I’ve been doing for our standard bread: mix the flour, water, and oil – but NOT the salt – together in a separate bowl, at the same time as I build up the leavener, and soak the seeds on the evening before. I’m really hoping that it will develop the flavour AND make it not insanely difficult (or at least less difficult) to deal with wet dough when I put the two together, and then add the salt and seeds on baking day. (I hope that made sense!)
14:08 Sigh It has been almost 24 hours that my site is offline. I think (not sure) that the servers are in Montreal. Which would explain why it’s off-line, considering the HUGE ice storm two days ago.
Canadian telecom companies said on Thursday their services in the southeastern part of the country were impacted due to widespread power outages caused by an ice storm a day ago. […] [F]reezing rain and strong winds knocked out power for more than a million people in Canada’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, ahead of a holiday weekend.
– Reuters, Canadian telcos say networks hit by power outages from ice storm, 6 April 2023
Hydro-Québec is aiming to restore power to most of the customers who were plunged into the dark after Wednesday’s ice storm. […] More than 500,000 customers have had their power restored so far from the peak of 1.1 million on Thursday morning. About 300,000 customers are expected to be left without power into the weekend. Some may stay without power until Monday.
– CBC News Montreal, Most Quebecers to have power back by end of Friday after ice storm causes major outages, 7 April 2023
Aha!! I can stop worrying that I might have to fully restore things myself. I just received a message from our website provider, confirming that the servers are indeed in Montreal:
Many circuits are down including the connection to the data center where the servers are. The servers are all running just there is no Internet feed. […] I will let you know when we expect things to get back to normal. But Hydro Quebec are saying 80% will be restored by midnight. 100% by Sunday. I’ll let you know as soon as I can.
– Jean V, Support
8 April 2023 There is still no internet connection to etherwork.net. Here is why:
80% of Montrealers have now had their power restored. Obviously, priority for restoration was given to emergency services, hospitals, and retirement homes. Commercial outages will be in the last to be restored.
CBC News reported that the some of power lines are significantly more damaged than others (many tree branches, overloaded by ice, were pulled down onto wires, dragging everything into a horrible tangled mess) so it means power to the 20% still affected probably won’t be restored by Easter. The servers for etherwork.net are in that 20%….
Most customers got power back by Friday, but thousands of Montrealers still without electricity […] As of 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday, just under 300,000 Hydro-Québec customers were still without power. Hydro-Québec says most households will have power back within 24 hours.
– CBC News, ‘Over 100,000 Quebecers likely without power until Monday amid carbon monoxide concerns’, 8 April 2023
Note the “most” in the above quote. There is no ETA for when everything will be restored.
In the meantime, here in Toronto, it is sunny, above freezing, and there is no forecast for rain in the near future. The day lily leaves are poking up from the ground and there are snowdrops blooming in the back garden; it appears that spring is springing at last.
9 April 2023, 11:06 Happy Easter!
I’m happy to report that my site is back online as of very late last night. This also means that even more people in Quebec have had their power restored. It will be SO much easier for them to do clean up if they have electricity in their homes, so they can rest properly.
12 April 2023, 12:58 We went for a bike ride on Easter Monday. It was beautiful out: sunny and warm enough for a light jacket.
I feel quite badly for people in Quebec though! It must be really awful for that small percentage of people who still have no power.
Thousands remain without electricity in Quebec one week after a deadly ice storm downed trees, crushed cars and damaged power lines. As of 11:30 a.m., there were roughly 100 service interruptions across the province, with around 4,000 Hydro-Quebec customers affected. […] The total number of blackouts will likely fluctuate throughout the day because of ongoing repair work and everyday outages.
– CTV News Montreal, ‘A week in the dark for some Montrealers as thousands of power outages remain’, 12 April 2023
Here in Toronto, where we have become oblivious to the misfortunes not far east of us, it was sunny again, and around 26C (!!) yesterday. We were going to go for another bike ride. But really stiff east winds made riding very difficult and we aborted.
We made beautiful stock from the carcasses of the chickens we roasted for our Easter feast. On Friday, we’ll make soup that will go perfectly with ciabatta! I’ll build up the starter on Thursday night.
I’m still working on exactly how much water to add to the final dough…. (I know. I could just follow the BBB recipe, couldn’t I? But where’s the challenge in that?!)
When working out the hydration or amount of liquid to be used in a recipe, this should include the water in the starter. Water can be changed at whim when baking — it is always up to you and what you think the dough needs. I have learnt the value in making sure there is enough water in the dough, even it it is hard to manage. […] Bread with seeds or dried fruit added often requires more water.
– Michele Eshkeri, ‘Using baker’s percentages’, Modern Sourdough
I really like getting permission to change the amount of water “at whim”.
14 April 2023, 09:12 Late last night I toasted and left seeds to soak. Then I mixed leavener and pre-dough ingredients in their separate bowls. We have been plunged directly into mid-summer this week! The daytime temperatures have been in the mid 20s since Monday, and yesterday it almost hit 30C!
Because it was so warm, I didn’t turn the oven light on for the leavener bowl. Even so, I decided to give it another little shot of flour before combining everything.
It’s already 19C, with a forecast of sunny and 26C today. I’m sort of tempted to suggest that we use the barbecue to bake this bread. But. We haven’t used the barbecue yet this year. The snow has only barely gone! There are still very few leaves on trees. The snowdrops are in bloom and our crocusses have only just shown their leaves. Maybe it’s not such a good idea….
17:02 I pre-shaped each ciabbata about 30 minutes ago. They are now shaped and languishing under our large rectangular pyrex casserole dish. I was so happy to see bubbles as I folded each piece of dough into 3.
18:36 Wow! That smells so good. And look at me! I remembered to brush olive oil over the tops. Now the bread looks so beautiful – like ancient jewelled slippers that have been polished and polished and polished.
That evening, we served the bread with salad and barbecued pork stew. And slathered the slices with too much butter – if there is such a thing.
There were a few complaints that it wasn’t crusty on the outside. Ha. That will teach me to remember to brush the crust with olive oil!
Remind me to forget that step next time.
Aside from that, dinner was delicious! We especially loved the bread.
Thank you, Cathy! That was way too much fun!
Here is the April 2023 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:
Wild Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta
based on Eric Kayser’s recipes for various versions of ciabatta in his book, “The Larousse Book of Bread”
Bread is made with olive oil all around the Mediterranean […] Nevertheless, it’s the Italian panini all’olio that we tend to think of first, as they have eclipsed all other version of olive-oil bread! […] The defining characteristics of all these breads [ — including Plain Ciabatta and its variations — ] derives from the addition of olive oil to the dough and to their high hydration level: this is what gives them such a melting, light texture.
– Eric Kayser, ‘Olive Oil’, The Larousse Book of Bread, p.206
Makes 2 ciabatte
- 9 grams mixed seeds (3 grams each of flax, millet, sesame) (The BBB recipe calls for 45 grams of “pumpkin, sunflower, fennel, sesame, millet, poppy, etc.”)
- water to cover, for soaking the seeds
- 45 grams water
- 45 grams 100% “no additives” whole wheat flour
- 15 grams Jane Mason whole wheat starter from the fridge
- 250 grams unbleached “no-additives” all-purpose flour
- 5 grams rye flour
- 5 grams buckwheat
- 15 grams wheat germ
- 155 grams water
- 15 grams extra virgin olive oil
- All of the pre dough
- all of the drained presoaked seeds from above
- 10 grams water (including seed soaking water from above)
- all of the above leavener
½ tsp. instant yeastNONONONO
- 7 grams salt + 5 grams water
- Mixed seeds (pepita, sunflower) UNROASTED, UNSOAKED
- olive oil
- On the evening before the day you will be baking the bread,
- Seeds: Spread the seeds in a single layer in a cast-iron frying pan. Turn the burner on to medium to toast the seeds for 7 minutes or so. As soon as you smell them, they’re pretty much ready. Depending on the type of seeds you choose, it could take more or less time. Watch the seeds so they don’t burn.
– BBB April 2023 recipe
Immediately pour the toasted seeds into a small bowl and cover with water. Allow the seeds to soak overnight. (The BBB recipe says to soak for 2 hours.) Remember that you will be reserving any excess water after draining the seeds the next day.
- Leavener: Using a wooden spoon, mix leavener ingredients in a smallish bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on if it’s cool at night (or with the light turned off if it’s warm outside).
- Pre-dough: In a bowl large enough for the final dough to triple, sift in all-purpose flour. Stir in rye flour, buckwheat, and wheat germ. Add 135 grams water and olive oil. Use a dough whisk (or wooden spoon) to mix everything together into a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest on the counter overnight.
- Final Dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking ciabatta,
- Seeds: Drain the seeds, making sure to keep the water. Weigh the drained water, and top it up to 30 grams, if necessary. Set aside for a moment or two.
- Notice that the leavener has a concave surface. This indicates that it has eaten everything and needs refreshing. Sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour and the same amount by weight of water. (Say 10 to 15 grams each.) Cover the bowl with a plate and wait for about 30 minutes (or so).
- When the surface of the leavener is convex and bubbly, it’s very likely that it will float, indicating that it’s ready to go. Just to be sure, take a small spoonful of the leavener to make sure it floats in a bowl of cool water. When it floats, proceed by adding it to the flour/water mixture in the big bowl. Dump the drained seeds overtop, as well as the 30 grams water. Use a dough whisk (or wooden spoon, or your hands) to mix everything together. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes.
- adding the salt: In a small bowl, whisk the salt into 5 grams of water. Pour the salt mixture over the dough.
- Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, repeat this step 1 more time. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest until the dough has almost doubled.
- Pre-shaping: Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Use a dough scraper to divide the dough into two equal pieces. Fold each piece over in half. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Shaping and adding un-toasted seeds:
- Scatter some flour evenly on top of one of the preshaped pieces of dough. Using the palms of your hands, gently flatten the dough into a rectangle that is 4cm thick or so. Use the dough scraper to turn it over, and then fold the disc in thirds, like a letter. Transfer the dough rectangle to sit seam-side down on a parchment papered rimmed cookie sheet. If you are planning to put seeds on top, run your hands under water and gently wet the top of the shaped loaf. Scatter UN-TOASTED seeds overtop. Cover with a tea towel.
- Shape the other piece of dough in exactly the same way, adding (or not) seed topping, as desired.
- Allow the shaped loaves to rest in a draught free area of the kitchen for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven: About half an hour before baking, turn the oven to 455F with a baking stone on the middle rack.
- Baking: Just before putting the loaves in the oven, liberally spray them with water. Then transfer the bread (including parchment paper and baking sheets) onto the hot stone. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the trays around half way through baking (to account for uneven oven heat) until the bread is a deep golden brown.
The loaves should sound hollow when thumped lightly on the bottom.
– BBB April 2023 recipe
- Cooling: Remove the bread to a footed rack. If you would like a softer chewy crust, brush the tops lightly with olive oil. Then allow the bread to cool completely before breaking it open; it is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat them after they have cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.
Set the bread on a rack and (this is one of the hardest parts of bread baking) keep your hands off that beautiful crusty bread for at least an hour, or until it is completely cool. You will be dying to cut into that gorgeous warm bread, the crust crackling as it cools, but remember that it’s still cooking inside; the crumb is still jelling, and the crust still developing. The crust will soften partway through the cooling time, but it will crisp again as it cools completely.
– Thomas Keller, ‘Breads: Cooling’, Bouchon Bakery
Wild yeast vs commercial yeast: The BBB recipe calls for making a leavener using commercial yeast, as well as adding more commercial yeast to the actual dough. We have been making wild yeast bread almost exclusively since July 2017; I could not bring myself to insult our wild starter by adding commercial yeast. (Bread made at home with commercial yeast still tastes pretty darn good. But it just doesn’t taste quite as good as bread made with our Jane Mason 100% whole wheat starter.) There is something really magical about making bread with only flour, water, salt, olive oil, and time. Then there is the flavour. It just tastes better!
Halving the recipe: The BBB recipe makes twice as much dough and 4 loaves. We don’t have room in our ridiculously small freezer to store 2 loaves. I halved the recipe.
Salt: The BBB recipe calls for a slightly smaller amount of salt than I added (10 grams for the full recipe). We prefer to add about 2% baker’s percentage of salt.
Salt helps develop the gluten in the dough but most importantly makes it taste of something. When using baker’s percentages, a rule of thumb is 1.8-2% of salt to 100% flour — though this can be changed to suit personal tastes.
– Michele Eshkeri, ‘Using baker’s percentages’, Modern Sourdough
Mixed grains: The BBB recipe calls for using wheat flour and various pre-soaked seeds and grains. I made an executive decision to add a little rye flour (mostly because one of the many ciabatta recipes I looked at called for a small amount of rye flour), and buckwheat. I wanted our ciabatta to be truly “Mixed grain”.
Seeds: The BBB recipe calls for a lot of pre-soaked seeds. I was worried that it would make the final bread heavy and/or too much like healthfood (it might cause too much sulking from 100% of the inhabitants…), so I reduced the amount pretty drastically. Also, I chose to use only very small pre-soaked seeds in the dough itself. Then to add larger seeds on the outsides of just one of the loaves.
Bread Baking Babes Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta
Cathy is hosting April 2023’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:
Spring is almost here in Georgia so I chose a bread that represents new growth.
We’ve been making enriched breads for the past couple of months, so I thought we needed a bread that didn’t include any eggs or milk. I went round and round with this one. I tried several breads and finally landed on this Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta. My version is adapted from the seeded ciabatta and buckwheat ciabatta formulas from The Larousse Book of Bread Recipes to Make at Home by Eric Kayser
– Cathy, excerpt of message to BBBabes
We know you’ll want to make seeded ciabatta too! To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make yeasted corn bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 April 2023. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.
For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:
- BBB Kitchen of the month:
Cathy, Bread Experience | Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta, BBB April 2023
- BBBuddy guidelines
- about the BBBabes
Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ February 2023 flaounes:
- Aparna, My Diverse Kitchen
- Cathy, Bread Experience: Enjoy this Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta with Buckwheat or Spelt (kitchen of the month)
- Judy, Judy’s Gross Eats: Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta
- Katie (BBBBB), Thyme for Cooking: Bread Baking Babes have a seedy history
- Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories: Mixed Grains and Seeds Ciabatta
- Kelly, A Messy Kitchen: Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta #BBB
- Pat (aka Elle), Feeding My Enthusiasms: BBB – It’s The Seeds
- Tanna, My Kitchen in Half Cups
At first glance, this book seems perfect. It is full of excellent photos, as well as some very good advice on how to mix, knead, shape, score, and bake.
Around the late nineties, the French rediscovered bread — not just any old bread […] It’s a short journey from the quest for good bread to making it yourself […] “People today are seeking authenticity in all kinds of things,” [Éric Kayser] explains. “And what could be better than bread, when it is made honestly, with no trickery or artifice, to convey this feeling of authenticity?”
– publisher’s foreword, p9
Alas, looking more closely, the book proves (no pun intended) to be a tiny bit disappointing; there may be just a little trickery or artifice included after all. Indeed, I cannot believe that every single “sourdough” recipe in the book calls for adding at least a little commercial yeast!
Yeast As An Aid To Natural Starters
If used in the correct proportion, yeast need not be avoided entirely. […] I add a small quantity to most of my sourdough recipes. Yeast can be used if you need to fine-tune the fermentation time, but not to sidestep it. If its use is limited to that of supporting role, yeast can prove a marvelous ingredient, as it will correct over-acidic natural starters.
– Eric Kayser, Fermentation, p28
This may be something to do with Éric Kayser running a bakery and not being able to afford the risk of having the bread be slightly flatter than last time, or worse: fail entirely. So, it’s not a matter of the natural starter not being good enough. It’s a matter of having not enough faith in it. Frankly, it is a needless step for the home baker to make.
Remember, bread wants to be bread. Even if it’s a little flatter than expected, it will still taste better than a lot of commercially prepared store-bought bread.
Having said all those slightly mean things about the book, I still bookmarked the following recipes (but to be made without adding any commercial yeast):
» Daisy Loaf, p76
» ZigZag Bread, p84
» Broa, p136
» Sesame Buns, p142
» Hazelnut & Butter Bread, p172
» Pumpkin Seed Ciabatta, p212
» Poppy Seed Rolls, p270
And. Did I mention that there are gorgeous photos? And clear instructions for everything? Just don’t pay attention to the questionable advice to add commercial yeast to the sourdough bread recipes.
- The Larousse Book of Bread: Recipes to Make at Home
by Éric Kayser
Published 20 April 2015 by Phaidon Press
ISBN: 9780714868875 (ISBN10: 0714868876)
Your loaves look great! I love the seeds on the outside too. I don’t mind the addition of a bit of yeast, but clearly your results prove (no pun intended) that you don’t need (no pun intended) it!
edit 17 April 2023, 11:54: Thank you, Karen! – Elizabeth
Never too much butter! I forgot the olive oil on top, but would have omitted that step anyway. This bread had a really delicate crust anyway. You got lovely shine in your crumb, it’s beautiful! No need for a mixer, right? I’m just lazy.
edit 17 April 2023, 11:55: Exactly! Butter rules. Although… I bet that this would be really really good dipped into herbed olive oil too. (I’m not too lazy to have a mixer; I’m too cheese-paring to buy one. ) – Elizabeth
I love the part where you chose not to hear that I included dried yeast. Your loaves look fabulous. “…like ancient jeweled slippers that have been polished and polished and polished.” My sentiments exactly.
By the way, this is the only bread I’ve made from his book where I added dried yeast in addition to the sourdough. For all of the other breads, I’ve only used sourdough. So, don’t discount it completely.
edit 17 April 2023, 11:57: Thank you, Cathy! We’re quite pleased. While they do look beautiful, we especially love the flavour of the seeds on the outside. Thank you again for an excellent choice for this month’s project.
That’s good to know that other recipes in Eric Kayser’s book definitely don’t require yeast. – Elizabeth
I love all those seeds ! I love seeds in bread !. Must go to Bio store tomorrow and buy seeds….
edit 19 April 2023, 13:12: Yes. You must, Katie. You must. I like seed in bread too, but I especially love seeds ON bread. – Elizabeth