Peter Reinhart’s ciabatta

I’ve always wanted to try this but I also wanted to go partly whole wheat so I used Peter Reinhart’s “transitional” recipe. I think the shape isn’t quite right (definitely “rustic” though) and don’t yet know about the crumb since this is just out of the oven.


I’d prefer a bit lighted color but that’s probably only possible with the white flour version so the dull brown is probably what I’m stuck with.

I should have taken a picture but what was interesting was the overnight rise in the fridge. This recipe is the à l’ancienne adaptation which is a very wet dough and immediate refrigeration. I was surprised to see how much it had risen this morning but even more interesting was the pattern (since I used my transparent container) where very large holes appeared at the bottom (when the dough was still warm from mixing) and much finer holes at the top as the dough chilled. This was all cultured yeast (instant) so technically not a sourdough even though this technique is often considered a sourdough technique since the long ferment should bring out a little acid. I wonder about the America’s Test Kitchen approach of adding a little lager and/or vinegar to drive further toward the tangy side on flavor, but we’ll see.

The shaping requires minimal handling which is still a bit tricky for me so I ended up with three very different and irregular loaves, none of which exactly look like a little slipper, but oh well, let’s hope the taste is the rustic version I’m after. The high volume ciabatta used a lot in restaurants looks quite a bit different than these which might mean I need a bit more hydration and/or oil to get a bit lower rise and wider spread.

But it’s always fun to try a new shape and recipe.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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5 Responses to Peter Reinhart’s ciabatta

  1. dmill96 says:

    Something went wrong. The crumb was very fine, closer to sandwich bread than rustic. Yet the bread also rose a lot (almost too much, should have been a little thinner and wider). I’m having trouble thinking what might have gone wrong, but here’s a few things: a) I think it could have been just a little wetter, but that hardly explains it, b) I really wonder if this doesn’t need some kneading (the dough was stringy (like Lahey long ferment) but not quite as much), surprised there is no kneading since other ciabatta recipes do knead, c) I’m now wondering if I actually turned oven back on when I reset the temp down (my oven requires off and on again to reset) and so maybe the baking was not hot enough, d) given the poor crumb I wonder if adding a little wheat gluten might help, or, e) I’m wondering too about a soaker since Reinhart frequently says that whole wheat flour’s bran is rough and “cuts” the gluten.

    So it appears I should try some other recipe (possibly all white first) to figure this out.

    btw: The taste was good, slightly sweet, presumably from the long ferment, but not at all tangy which might have improved it. Basically it was kinda bland but not unpleasant.

    So just disappointing.

  2. dmill96 says:

    No obvious answer from other posts I find at with slight exception of easier handling during shaping (that might be influenced by having too small a container for first rise and thus too rough getting it out for shaping).

    I think I should try the Italian Baker version for contrast, but that’s not whole wheat which I like (for taste, not due to alleged magical nutrition properties).

  3. dmill96 says:

    This one, and this one, both look great, but aren’t the whole wheat version so let’s first try these since I have that Reinhart book as well

  4. This is why bread making intimidates me…so many variables! Looking forward to seeing if you find a recipe you like. Would love to make ciabatta bread some day!

    • dmill96 says:

      But the variables also make it fun. With just such a few ingredients but many different ways to use them each “experiment” is an adventure. What I’ve found, however, is that almost any recipe or experiment creates a product that is better than you can buy at almost any place than the very best artisanal bakeries, if you’re fortunate enough to have one available. Thanks for the comment and try ciabatta someday, great for sandwiches.

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