I've been working on this Italian ciabatta for a couple of weeks, writing about the process as I go. I'm not sure where it will all end up, but it has been fun. This bread is made with a biga, or a hunk of stiff prefermented dough with a pinch of yeast, that rose for 16 hours. I then mixed the biga into the final dough, which itself rose slowly in the refrigerator for another 19 hours. The result was a light, sweet, and chewy crumb and crisp dark crust that made for a perfect sandwich—or actually two.
Here's the recipe. Far more important than the recipe is knowing how much to mix, how long to let the dough ferment, and how to shape the loaf—things that you learn the more you bake. But in response to requests, here's my latest, which builds over two days to develop flavor. You can see this and other terrific loaves over at Yeastspotting.
Quantity: two loaves, 475 grams each.
Time: 16 hours to rise preferment, 12-24 hours final dough
Formula, baker's percentage
• flour 100%
• water 78%
• instant yeast 0.4%
• salt 2%
• percentage of prefermented flour: 20%
• 110 grams flour (King Arthur or 365 brand organic all purpose)
• 55 grams water
• two pinches instant yeast (pinch some between thumb and forefinger, add and repeat)