Monday, 2 July 2012

Ciabatta with wild yeast

This blog is in English to accommodate our friends in the English speaking world.
My bread-making experiments have now grown to include the making of my own yeast. None of this instant yeast stuff anymore!

The rye sourdough that started it all
The recipes here is a concoction of material that I found in various places on the internet, with the blog at and being specifically helpful, especially with the yeast spotting part.

This specific recipe is not suited for making aboard a small vessel, as one needs an oven. If your boat has such, you are halfway there. The effort is not much and the results outstanding. Making small loaves perhaps helps with the handling of the loaves afterwards.

I started this yeast by putting half a cup of broken rye through the blender for about a minute. The resultant flour went into a container along with another half cup of white bread flour. To this lot was added a spoonful of honey and some warm water to make up a mushy dough. The water temperature was such that I could comfortably hold my finger in it. This concoction was then left for two days to start fermenting.
The 3 mixes and their wild yeast
Once it was fermenting, I fed it by taking out some of the sourdough and adding some water and more white bread flour. This sourdough went through three cycles of feeding before I started using it to make bread. It started out smelling like German beer, now it smells like sour German beer. It is lively enough to make the dough rise in the same time as for instant yeast.
The ciabatta was an experiment to see what comes out using different mixtures of flour. In this case I used one cup of flour per type. There were three types, one using white bread flour only, one using a 50/50 mix of white and brown bread flour, and the last one was 25% rye, 25% brown and 50% white bread flour.
The three mixes after a night's rest.
Good yeast development after a night's rest
All three mixes were treated the same. The flour got three tablespoons of my wild rye yeast, some salt and enough warm water to make a soft dough. These three lots were then left to rise until they doubled in volume, about two hours. I use my oven by switching it on for about five minutes at 50° C (about 120°F). They were then kneaded back to original volume, rolled out and folded many times. Each for about five to eight minutes. They were then put back in the now cooled oven to rest overnight. This was part B of the experiment. My missus grew up on a farm where they did not have a refrigerator for many years and that is how they did it there. Except they left the dough out on the table. We have cats, so in our house the dough needs to be protected from their attentions.
Fermentation bubbles
The next morning the dough was again kneaded back to original volume and rested for about half an hour. I then made three bread rolls out of each mix and baked them at 215°C for thirty minutes. After about twenty-five minutes I painted them with water to help with the crust forming. The oven was switched off after thirty minutes and the bread left to rest inside for another ten minutes, after which the bread was removed from the oven and left to cool.
The result was ciabatta that I could not believe! Perhaps slightly overbaked, but very tasty and chewy. There is also a slight sour taste of the yeast, adding a wonderful flavour to the bread. These loaves are quite heavy and one slice per person keeps away the pangs of hunger a lot longer than the local commercial bread. We had some of these with cheese and wine for a Saturday night dinner. Needless to say, the salt crackers were left uneaten on the board!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12

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