Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Whole Wheat Ciabatta – Not Bad, Which is Great!

I’ve never had much of a taste for whole wheat bread, which is not surprising if you grew up during the Wonder Bread years. Whole wheat flour is significantly stronger tasting, and its earthy, bitter aftertaste is the reason white flour is the much preferred choice for, well, everything.

Besides the taste, it’s also a little harder to work with, and fairly easy to turn out something with a density that would make a brick blush. But, thanks to many years of requests, I decided to give the old no-knead ciabatta a higher-fiber makeover. Since I don’t have much whole wheat baking experience, I did what any good chef would do…I didn’t do any research, and just tried to figure it out.

I was quite happy with the taste and texture, and going 50/50 with the all-purpose flour provided just enough of that crusty, chewy “normal” bread experience, and we still get a decent amount of whole grain.

The procedure is straightforward, but as I point out in the video, pay attention to when you start. I recommend doing the sponge in the afternoon, mixing the dough at night, and baking it in the morning. Speaking of which, be sure to dust your dough with flour before covering. I didn’t, and had a little sticking problem.

I know many of you have made and enjoyed the traditional ciabatta bread we posted, so I’m looking forward to hearing from those of you who give this whole wheat version a try. Please let me know, and as always, enjoy!

For the sponge:
1 cup tepid water
1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 oz (1/4 cup) rye flour (you can sub wheat flour)
2.25 oz (about 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
2.25 oz (about 1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
let sit until very bubbly, about 5 hours

Then add:
1/2 cup room temp water
1 3/4 tsp fine salt
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 tbsp polenta
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp shelled sunflower seeds
4.5 oz (about 1 cup) all-purpose flour
4.5 oz (about 1 cup) whole wheat flour
-Bake at 450 F. for 30-35 minutes


Sebas R said...

I have access ti an oven with humidity control, What percentage should I use?

Sebas R said...

What percentage of humidity should I use in my oven?

Roberto said...

I frequently use your "no-knead" recipe but I bake it differently. I plop the mass into a screaming-hot, large, cast iron pot and bake it covered for 30 minutes at 500F and an additional 15 minutes uncovered. The trapped steam makes for a better crumb and the pot helps shape the loaf a little bit. I plan to try this version soon.

Matt_W. said...

Thanks for this Chef John! But what would I need to do if I wanted to make this into smaller loaves?

Matt_W. said...

Thanks for this Chef John! But what would I need to do if I wanted to make smaller loaves for individual sandwiches for example?

Unknown said...

Putting in a small amount of pre-boiled water for the first five minutes of baking usually works for me. I hear it's so that the forming crust stays moist enough during the expansion period and doesn't crack.

Whenever I use seeds in bread, I use sunflower and pumpkin. Not only are they delicious, they add a lot of texture to the crumb and crust both.

Rye is an interesting addition. It can be super delicious when properly fermented, but on it's own it is really dull and makes working a dough a nightmare, seeing how it forms absolutely no gluten at all and sticks to everything.

Finland has myriad varieties of bread that uses 100% rye flour and the most popular commercial bread here is a flat rye rectangle that has readily separable top and bottom halves.

Chef John said...

You can shape into any size you want! Just adjust cooking time for smaller rolls.

Chef John said...

Sebas, sorry, no idea! I've never used an oven with that feature.

Jasmine Terwilliger said...

You may find this interesting Chef, I've been using your no-knead ciabatta recipe for the past nine months at my café. We're sort of a health café, so I make the dough half white half wheat, just like that. The dough is made fresh every day. I shape them into buns and use them for sandwiches. The customers love it.

Blogger said...

Two unrelated questions chef,

Have you ever done any TV spots like a morning show or news? you should.

What kind of freshly ground black pepper do you use? tellicherry?

Chef John said...

No, no interest! I don't need that kind of stress. :)

I just buy your standard grocery store whole peppercorns!

Chef John said...

No, no interest! I don't need that kind of stress. :)

I just buy your standard grocery store whole peppercorns!

af05de08-a79b-11e3-9b99-000f20980440 said...

May I suggest white whole wheat flour? It's lighter and milder than regular whole wheat flour and every bit as nutritious.

Tony Arra said...

The bread came out awesome...but there's something I can't figure out. When my bread came out of the oven, the crust was perfectly crispy on top. But by the time it cooled and was ready for dinner, the crust had softened up considerably. How do you keep the crust crusty?

ספירו גהשאן said...

My bread has a thin chrom.
I spray water in the oven and the temp' is 230 deg and still the chrom is thin.
What do you suggest to make a thicker chrom.