Week # 7 Dueling Ciabattas

Cook's Ciabatta on left, BBA Ciabatta on right.

At one time I subscribed to about 13 different magazines, most of them food related.  However, over time I have let most of them lapse because I just never had time to read them.  Now I only get Gourmet and Cook’s Illustrated. Even with just those two, I am still behind in my reading.  However, in this instance being behind happened to be a good thing.  Last week I picked up the March/April issue of Cook’s Illustrated and began to look at the Table of Contents. And there on page 22 was an article titled “Authentic Rustic Ciabatta”.  How about that?  In the very same week I was about to tackle the Bread Baker’s Apprentice version of ciabatta!As I read through both versions I began to compare and saw that these were two very different breads.  The BBA bread used bread flour, while Cook’s called for all-purpose. Both recipes call for a starter of some type but the ratio of starter to flour in the final dough differs.  In the BBA version, the ratio is approximately  2:1 (16 ounces biga: 9 ounces bread flour).  In the Cook’s  version, the ratio is about 1:1 (9 ounces biga: 10 ounces all-purpose flour).   The shaping method in the Cook’s version is also quite different.  They propose a method which reminded me of making puff pastry, where you fold and turn the dough about 16 times.

I was intrigued.  I had never made Ciabatta before and was very curious to see which one I’d prefer.  In order to make this as scientific as possible, I decided to make them at approximately the same time. This is where it got interesting. Note to self (and others who may try this), if you are testing two recipes, do them sequentially, not simultaneously.  I got a bit mixed up in the instructions and ended up using the Cook’s instructions on the BBA dough.

Day One was a breeze!   I made the Poolish for the BBA version and let it sit on the counter for 4 hours and then put it in the fridge overnight.  I made the Cook’s Biga and let it sit overnight on the counter for 12 hours.

BBA Poolish after overnight in fridge