Almost every bakery in America makes Ciabatta these days. Our Durum is based on it, and shares many of the same characteristics. When we opened, we chose to do something different, and that’s where our durum comes from. Ciabatta is a yeasted bread. Sometimes, it’s made with various yeasted starters, sometimes with a little sourdough. I don’t know of any bakeries making it 100% naturally leavened, but why not?
Once upon a time, much like France, Germany and any other great European baking nation, Natural Leavening would’ve been used to leaven bread exclusively. The French call it “Levain”. Germans “Sauerteig”. Italians “biga naturale”. Americans any of the above or simply sourdough. All of these very traditional pre-ferments or starters are the same, but very different. The way it is manipulated creates different flavors and textures in the bread. The Italians and French don’t want sourness in their bread, considering it a defect. Commercial yeast didn’t exist until the industrial revolution. It was made in a factory, so it doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch to think that any bread could be made with sourdough.
This months bread will be made like Ciabatta, but it’ll be 100% Biga Naturale. Sourdough. Naturally leavened. A new version of Ciabatta? How about just a good loaf of bread? I hesitate to call it sourdough, because of the connotation it gives. This shouldn’t be overly sour. It should have many of the same texture nuances of a sourdough bread, but hopefully it won’t be overly sour.
First version. Unfortunately, some of the loaves stuck to the proofing linen, and I lost quite a bit of volume as a result. These are some of the “good” ones. Nice hole structure. Tastes great, with slight acidity. I hesitate calling this Ciabatta, because frankly, it doesn’t really taste like it, but it is a great loaf of bread!