Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Obsession

Recently I am obsessed with artisan breads. I made baguettes some time back and there was room for lots of improvement. I knew that I needed a good bread book on my bookshelf. After much consideration, I decided on Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which had some very good reviews, not only from the Amazon buyers, but other sources. I ordered mine through Amazon (as it's cheaper than asking Kinokuniya to bring in for me). I was really excited when the book arrived in my office, and surprising 'punctual' (on the first day of their estimated delivery period).

After getting the book, I was reading for about 2 weeks, yes, there is a lot of useful background info, from the type of yeasts, flours to the baking techniques etc. Finally decided on a ciabatta recipe using a biga (an Italian style firm pre-ferment).

As a pre-ferment is involved, this recipe took 2 days to complete. The first day for preparation of biga and letting it rest chilled overnight, and the next day to continue with 3 fermentations and finally baking. Ciabatta doughs are notorious for being very very wet, some are almost pourable. It is this which accounts for the large holes so important to an authentic ciabatta. See here for a pic of a gorgeous ciabatta. For mine, it was not as wet as I expected, I should probably have held back some of the flour or added more water. As a result, I didn't manage to get the 'hole-y' crumb that I had hope for, but it's a good start to more rustic bread making.

Another look

10 comments:

gattina said...

Angie,
you're a very good baker indeed. The other ciabatta photo you shown has very brown crust. I can't remember if it's supposed to be that dark. What do you think?

Angie said...

Gattina, you're too kind, I still have lots to improve on.

You mean the ciabatta photo from The Fresh Loaf? Yeah, I felt it's a bit too brown also. In Peter Reinhart's book, he showed a nice medium brown color. I've actually never had a 'true-blue' ciabatta before, so not sure if it's supposed to be really dark.

Rene said...

Hi Angie,

Your ciabatta looks good to me.

Eva said...

Angie,
Your ciabatta looks very very very good.....well done!!!

evan said...

hey angie, your loaf looks good, seriously. i think u r better in baking bread than anybody else. and so far i've never seen much of bread enthusiasts around. keep up the good work ya? i was particularly impressed with your grissini torinesi. so pretty to look at, and must taste good as well. i havent baked breads b4 but i hv the "phobia" i'm not sure why. i keep fearing...what if the yeast doesnt work or doesnt rise? coz maybe i had bad experiences abt cake which didnt rise...so it was a disaster to me.

however, this few weeks' U-Weekly mag teaches how to bake sausage, ham & pork floss bun - such as those sold in breadtalk. with color photos + step by step instructions, i feel more confident to wanna try out :p so i hope im able to succeed! bread is lighter & more versatile than cakes, definitely lower in calories oso, so i must bake more of these hehe.

by the way angie, do u know where to buy those thin aluminium paper that normally those breadtalk use as the backing of their breads? i don't recall i seen them in phoon huat b4...thx dear.

Angie said...

Rene, Eva, Evan, thanks so much for your kind words. I'm encouraged to continue my 'bread journey', hee...

Evan, I understand your 'fear' of bread making. I personally had many failures before I could produce some 'decent' breads. Actually I think failures are good, they help to pin-point the mistakes and strengthen our knowledge and skills. I do hope you give bread making a try. I enjoy the process and nothing beats the aroma of baking breads wafting thru the kitchen ;p. I'm a huge bread addict. Er..I'm not so sure of the 'lower calories' part, depends on what you add on it :)

Regarding the aluminium foils base, I've never really search for it. There are a few more bakeware shops to try, like: Chong Trading at the Adelphi(opp Funan), Gim Hin Lee at Haig Road, Sia Huat at Temple street.

gattina said...

Angie,
I don't know either... the over-browness can be the characteristic of being rustic? or simply just the baker's preference???
Love to see more of your beautiful bread coming!

Angie said...

Gattina, does the italian baker in your area bake ciabatta, maybe can go there and spy? *lol*

There will defintely be more breads, beautiful or not is another story, ha ha...

gattina said...

Angie,
the photos here are the prove, you can't deny their beauty, kekee...
Ok, will be your secret agent when I go to the baker next time!

Angie said...

Gattina, thanks for being my special agent 008 ;p