Baking (rec.food.baking) For bakers, would-be bakers, and fans and consumers of breads, pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, crackers, bagels, and other items commonly found in a bakery. Includes all methods of preparation, both conventional and not.

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Old 16-04-2005, 10:30 AM
Her Subj.
 
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Default Bland-Tasting Ciabatta - Peter Reinhart Recipe

I recently purchased "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart
and wanted to start off with the "formula" for ciabatta. I made a
poolish culture on Wednesday morning and used it tonight (Friday
night). I don't have a stand-up mixer (yet), so the dough was initially
hard to work with but I eventually was able to get a handle on it. It
rose beautifully and I prepared and baked it according to Reinhart's
instructions what with the simulation of steam in a conventional oven
and all that. The problem with my ciabatta was that a) it was very,
very cracker-like (none of those wondrous holes associated with
traditional ciabattas), and there was ABSOLUTELY NO TASTE! It pretty
much tasted like flour and water, even with my two-day old poolish
culture.

I am not sure what the problem is --I don't have a thermometer, so I
took it out of the oven at the suggest 20 minutes and it was all cooked
inside, however, the outside was not completely "brown" as described by
the author. More like a dark tan.

I feel discouraged to try this again, and I would like any tips if they
are available. I know how to figure for the right texture next time
(more water!), but I am concerned about this lack of flavour. I do well
making enriched bread and the like, but am really earnestly looking to
make bread with the simple ingredients of flour, salt and yeast.


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Old 16-04-2005, 04:27 PM
Boron Elgar
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On 16 Apr 2005 02:30:25 -0700, "Her Subj."
wrote:

I recently purchased "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart
and wanted to start off with the "formula" for ciabatta. I made a
poolish culture on Wednesday morning and used it tonight (Friday
night). I don't have a stand-up mixer (yet), so the dough was initially
hard to work with but I eventually was able to get a handle on it. It
rose beautifully and I prepared and baked it according to Reinhart's
instructions what with the simulation of steam in a conventional oven
and all that. The problem with my ciabatta was that a) it was very,
very cracker-like (none of those wondrous holes associated with
traditional ciabattas), and there was ABSOLUTELY NO TASTE! It pretty
much tasted like flour and water, even with my two-day old poolish
culture.

I am not sure what the problem is --I don't have a thermometer, so I
took it out of the oven at the suggest 20 minutes and it was all cooked
inside, however, the outside was not completely "brown" as described by
the author. More like a dark tan.

I feel discouraged to try this again, and I would like any tips if they
are available. I know how to figure for the right texture next time
(more water!), but I am concerned about this lack of flavour. I do well
making enriched bread and the like, but am really earnestly looking to
make bread with the simple ingredients of flour, salt and yeast.



May I recommend posting this to alt.bread.recipes? Many of the
experienced "lean dough" bakers there also read this group, but
Reinhart and his recipes are discussed there often. You can also try
google groups to see past posts and perhaps find something specific to
this recipe that might help.

I did made this ciabatta recipe a couple of times and was not
interested enough in the results to try to tweak it to perfect it for
my own use, but I am sure there are some who can help your further.
You might also want to try the recipe again, just to make sure
something did not go awry (bread pun - they are hard to resist) by
accident the one time you made it.

If you have any interest in sourdough, rec.food,sourdough is another
groups you might be interested in reading.

Boron
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Old 16-04-2005, 05:44 PM
Mike Avery
 
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Default

Her Subj. wrote:

I am not sure what the problem is --I don't have a thermometer, so I
took it out of the oven at the suggest 20 minutes and it was all cooked
inside, however, the outside was not completely "brown" as described by
the author. More like a dark tan.



There are several possible issues here. One is that poolish is best
used after it just subsides. That is, it rises to a peak and then
starts to collapse. You can see contractions, or wrinkles, in its
surface. I think you let the poolish work way too long. Usually 12 to
18 hours is about right. You were up around fifty some odd. You risk
getting some serious off flavors.

Also, on the thermometer front, you should get two. One is a quick
reading thermometer to check the temp of ingredients, doughs, poolishes,
starters, roasts, and loaves of bread. You should also get an oven
thermometer. It is amazing how far off many oven thermostats are. And,
when you get an oven thermometer, you need to check how long it takes
you oven to get to the desired temperature, how far off it is for
different temperatures you use, and how well it holds temperatures.

I have found that oven thermostats are often off by different amounts at
different temperatures, so it can be off 25 degrees at 350 but 100 at
450. And, many ovens don't hold temperatures well.

If your oven doesn't hold a temperature well, or if your thermostat is
off, clean your oven and then make sure that the thermostat's sensor is
not touching the wall of the oven.

Finally, most of bread's flavor is in the crust. If it is too light, or
too thin, you won't get ful flavor. Many Americans are afraid to let
the bread get too dark. Many more are afraid to buy bread if the crust
is too dark. Both are missing out on much of the greatest joys of bread.

Good luck,
Mike


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Old 17-04-2005, 06:11 PM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Mike Avery" wrote in message
news:[email protected] l.otherwhen.com...
Her Subj. wrote:

I am not sure what the problem is --I don't have a thermometer, so I
took it out of the oven at the suggest 20 minutes and it was all cooked
inside, however, the outside was not completely "brown" as described by
the author. More like a dark tan.


There are several possible issues here. One is that poolish is best used
after it just subsides. That is, it rises to a peak and then starts to
collapse. You can see contractions, or wrinkles, in its surface. I think
you let the poolish work way too long. Usually 12 to 18 hours is about
right. You were up around fifty some odd. You risk getting some serious
off flavors.

Also, on the thermometer front, you should get two. One is a quick
reading thermometer to check the temp of ingredients, doughs, poolishes,
starters, roasts, and loaves of bread. You should also get an oven
thermometer. It is amazing how far off many oven thermostats are. And,
when you get an oven thermometer, you need to check how long it takes you
oven to get to the desired temperature, how far off it is for different
temperatures you use, and how well it holds temperatures.

I have found that oven thermostats are often off by different amounts at
different temperatures, so it can be off 25 degrees at 350 but 100 at 450.
And, many ovens don't hold temperatures well.

If your oven doesn't hold a temperature well, or if your thermostat is
off, clean your oven and then make sure that the thermostat's sensor is
not touching the wall of the oven.

Finally, most of bread's flavor is in the crust. If it is too light, or
too thin, you won't get ful flavor. Many Americans are afraid to let the
bread get too dark. Many more are afraid to buy bread if the crust is too
dark. Both are missing out on much of the greatest joys of bread.

Good luck,
Mike

I am interested in your statement "...most of the bread's flavor is in the
crust...." No matter what crust I end up with; i.e., light, medium, dark,
my crust taste NEVER is tasty to me. It always has a slightly bitter taste.
Sometimes I've wondered if it is the water I'm using to spray the oven with;
my oven isn't clean enough and the crust takes on the oven smell; the pan in
the oven that I pour hot water in for steam might not be the correct metal,
such as iron vs. stainless? It doesn't matter what flour I use, it always
has this taste to me. I use mostly King Arthur flour nowadays, but when I
wasn't, it was the same. Sometimes I make biga, polish, other called for
"starters," but it is always the same -- just can't figure it out. When I
buy bread from markets; i.e., Wegman's, Whole Foods, it doesn't have this
bitter taste.
Dee


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Old 17-04-2005, 06:11 PM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Mike Avery" wrote in message
news:[email protected] l.otherwhen.com...
Her Subj. wrote:

I am not sure what the problem is --I don't have a thermometer, so I
took it out of the oven at the suggest 20 minutes and it was all cooked
inside, however, the outside was not completely "brown" as described by
the author. More like a dark tan.


There are several possible issues here. One is that poolish is best used
after it just subsides. That is, it rises to a peak and then starts to
collapse. You can see contractions, or wrinkles, in its surface. I think
you let the poolish work way too long. Usually 12 to 18 hours is about
right. You were up around fifty some odd. You risk getting some serious
off flavors.

Also, on the thermometer front, you should get two. One is a quick
reading thermometer to check the temp of ingredients, doughs, poolishes,
starters, roasts, and loaves of bread. You should also get an oven
thermometer. It is amazing how far off many oven thermostats are. And,
when you get an oven thermometer, you need to check how long it takes you
oven to get to the desired temperature, how far off it is for different
temperatures you use, and how well it holds temperatures.

I have found that oven thermostats are often off by different amounts at
different temperatures, so it can be off 25 degrees at 350 but 100 at 450.
And, many ovens don't hold temperatures well.

If your oven doesn't hold a temperature well, or if your thermostat is
off, clean your oven and then make sure that the thermostat's sensor is
not touching the wall of the oven.

Finally, most of bread's flavor is in the crust. If it is too light, or
too thin, you won't get ful flavor. Many Americans are afraid to let the
bread get too dark. Many more are afraid to buy bread if the crust is too
dark. Both are missing out on much of the greatest joys of bread.

Good luck,
Mike

I am interested in your statement "...most of the bread's flavor is in the
crust...." No matter what crust I end up with; i.e., light, medium, dark,
my crust taste NEVER is tasty to me. It always has a slightly bitter taste.
Sometimes I've wondered if it is the water I'm using to spray the oven with;
my oven isn't clean enough and the crust takes on the oven smell; the pan in
the oven that I pour hot water in for steam might not be the correct metal,
such as iron vs. stainless? It doesn't matter what flour I use, it always
has this taste to me. I use mostly King Arthur flour nowadays, but when I
wasn't, it was the same. Sometimes I make biga, polish, other called for
"starters," but it is always the same -- just can't figure it out. When I
buy bread from markets; i.e., Wegman's, Whole Foods, it doesn't have this
bitter taste.
Dee




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Old 17-04-2005, 07:25 PM
Mike Avery
 
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Default

Dee Randall wrote:

I am interested in your statement "...most of the bread's flavor is in the
crust...." No matter what crust I end up with; i.e., light, medium, dark,
my crust taste NEVER is tasty to me. It always has a slightly bitter taste.
Sometimes I've wondered if it is the water I'm using to spray the oven with;
my oven isn't clean enough and the crust takes on the oven smell; the pan in
the oven that I pour hot water in for steam might not be the correct metal,
such as iron vs. stainless? It doesn't matter what flour I use, it always
has this taste to me. I use mostly King Arthur flour nowadays, but when I
wasn't, it was the same. Sometimes I make biga, polish, other called for
"starters," but it is always the same -- just can't figure it out. When I
buy bread from markets; i.e., Wegman's, Whole Foods, it doesn't have this
bitter taste.


Start by getting the thermometers and cleaning your oven. Also, it is a
matter of taste. Europeans love breads that most Americans think are
burned. Dr. Calvel dedicates a lot of his book to encouraging people to
bake bread longer.

So, is it burned, or just not to your taste?

Well.... get the temperature under control, get the oven cleaned (I like
the lye free easy-off), and then see what happens.

Mike

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Old 17-04-2005, 07:48 PM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Mike Avery" wrote in message
news:[email protected] il.otherwhen.com...
Dee Randall wrote:

I am interested in your statement "...most of the bread's flavor is in the
crust...." No matter what crust I end up with; i.e., light, medium, dark,
my crust taste NEVER is tasty to me. It always has a slightly bitter
taste. Sometimes I've wondered if it is the water I'm using to spray the
oven with; my oven isn't clean enough and the crust takes on the oven
smell; the pan in the oven that I pour hot water in for steam might not be
the correct metal, such as iron vs. stainless? It doesn't matter what
flour I use, it always has this taste to me. I use mostly King Arthur
flour nowadays, but when I wasn't, it was the same. Sometimes I make
biga, polish, other called for "starters," but it is always the same --
just can't figure it out. When I buy bread from markets; i.e., Wegman's,
Whole Foods, it doesn't have this bitter taste.

Start by getting the thermometers and cleaning your oven. Also, it is a
matter of taste. Europeans love breads that most Americans think are
burned. Dr. Calvel dedicates a lot of his book to encouraging people to
bake bread longer.

So, is it burned, or just not to your taste?

Well.... get the temperature under control, get the oven cleaned (I like
the lye free easy-off), and then see what happens.

Mike


It happens whether or not my oven is clean -- I use the automatic oven
cleaner. I do use thermometers in oven, and often when making the bread.
The bread crust whether very dark brown to medium brown always tastes bitter
to me. My husband doesn't notice it as much as I do. So many times I
actually don't eat the crust. And I LOVE crust!
Dee


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Old 17-04-2005, 08:00 PM
Margaret Suran
 
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For the sole purpose of research on the above subject, I bought two
Ciabatta rolls yesterday, each in a different gourmet market with a
fine bakery department, Agata & Valentina and Citarella.

I tasted half of each yesterday, first just the roll and then with
unsalted butter and Italian Fontina cheese. Neither roll had much, if
any taste, but it was nice and fresh and I liked the consistency of
the dough and with the addition of the butter and cheese it was very
enjoyable. I drank a glass of Mondavi Merlot with it.

I had the second halves for brunch today. I toasted the rolls, as
they were quite dry this morning. They still had not much taste, at
least none I could identify, but with butter and a very special Prize
Winning Peach Jam, it was delicious. I guess it is the crunch more
than anything else I liked.

Perhaps Ciabatta Bread is not supposed to have much flavor?

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Old 17-04-2005, 10:18 PM
Alan Zelt
 
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Default


"Margaret Suran" wrote in message
...
For the sole purpose of research on the above subject, I bought two
Ciabatta rolls yesterday, each in a different gourmet market with a fine
bakery department, Agata & Valentina and Citarella.

I tasted half of each yesterday, first just the roll and then with
unsalted butter and Italian Fontina cheese. Neither roll had much, if any
taste, but it was nice and fresh and I liked the consistency of the dough
and with the addition of the butter and cheese it was very enjoyable. I
drank a glass of Mondavi Merlot with it.

I had the second halves for brunch today. I toasted the rolls, as they
were quite dry this morning. They still had not much taste, at least none
I could identify, but with butter and a very special Prize Winning Peach
Jam, it was delicious. I guess it is the crunch more than anything else I
liked.

Perhaps Ciabatta Bread is not supposed to have much flavor?


Ciabatta bread gains much fame as the two slices of bread holding together
many sandwiches with many varying ingredients. That is the only way that I
use this bread. For me, I am not looking for a bread that deflects from the
fillings.

Alan


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Old 17-04-2005, 10:55 PM
Her Subj.
 
Posts: n/a
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I think ciabatta most certainly has a flavor...perhaps it comes from
different ingredients, say, olive oil or milk that is used sometimes,
but I find it to be avery flavorful bread. At least with my ciabatta,
it was definitely not as tasteful as ciabatta I've had from some
bakeries around town.

I kind of liken ciabatta to a less-dense and wider (typically) french
bread. I also think the flavor of ciabatta leans more towards the
"savory" side.



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Old 17-04-2005, 11:48 PM
Boron Elgar
 
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Default

On 17 Apr 2005 14:55:23 -0700, "Her Subj."
wrote:

I think ciabatta most certainly has a flavor...perhaps it comes from
different ingredients, say, olive oil or milk that is used sometimes,
but I find it to be avery flavorful bread. At least with my ciabatta,
it was definitely not as tasteful as ciabatta I've had from some
bakeries around town.

I kind of liken ciabatta to a less-dense and wider (typically) french
bread. I also think the flavor of ciabatta leans more towards the
"savory" side.



There is an excellent web site, one of whose creators posts to Usenet,
that has extensive writing about ciabatta, as well as other Italian
breads and foods. They are a fine source of information and may give
you some hints or you may find a recipe that is more to your liking
than Reinhart's.

This will take you right to their main bread page.

http://www.theartisan.net/bredfrm.htm

I did read in one of your post (IIRC) that you used a half recipe.
Sometimes, when trying a bread recipe for the first time, it can be
tricky to halve the ingredients. Something may have not worked well
because of that.

In addition to suggestions others have made, there are any number of
reasons why a loaf fails and, as anyone who bakes bread regularly can
tell you, sometimes you can tell what went wrong and sometimes it
remains a mystery as the next time the recipe is used, everything
works. Flour and water are quite cheap and though we invest our time
and efforts, the experimenting can be fun. It can take awhile to
perfect a recipe, even when it comes from a book or author that is a
trusted source.

If you wish to conquer the Reinhart recipe, forge on, or try another
that may result in something more to your tastes.

Boron




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