After many attempts, this was the first time I started to get a hint of what Peter Reinhart was talking about when he talks about the addictive qualities of a ‘sweet creamy crumb’ and a ‘long nutty finish’ in a properly slow-fermented ciabatta. I worked from Rose Levy Barenbaum’s recipe, which I found simpler to follow than Reinhart’s. Basic principles: 84% hydration (ie 84g water to every 100g flour). It was really difficult not to deflate the incredibly wet (almost viscous) dough, but apparently that’s the art of ciabatta.
There were some bugger-ups too: the wax paper stuck to two of the loaves (note for next time: flour not oil, and stronger baking parchment); and the shapes of the last two got mangled when putting them into oven (recent acquisition of a baking peel/pizza spade will hopefully avert that next time!) Learning, learning!!