As 2009 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on all the successes and challenges I’ve had in the kitchen this year. One of the greatest successes – this Focaccia. One the biggest challenges – this Ciabatta. But a challenge can sometimes teach you the greatest lesson of all.
Not ever being satisfied with just so-so, I decided to give the ciabatta another try. Even though I thought my dough had been wet enough the first time, the bread lacked the large holes that earn ciabatta its self-respect. So this time I made sure to keep the dough as wet as possible making sure it just came together but was still very sticky. The result? A dough that bubbled and rose, and baked into a glorious hole-y ciabatta (pictured below) that didn’t have to hide.
The lesson? Wetter is better.
I applied this same lesson to my focaccia with equally grand results, and it garnered the most raves of any bread I have made so far. It could most likely be applied to all yeast recipes to insure you a greater chance for success.
These two particular recipes can be found in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. If you don’t have it, you can preview the book here.